Normal Calcium Levels
Along with a number of other vitamins and minerals, it is important to maintain normal calcium levels in the body throughout one’s lifetime. Calcium is one nutrient that is essential to the proper functioning of the body, and as such, anything outside of the recommended calcium levels can cause significant medical problems.
Importance of Normal Calcium Levels
Most people are aware that calcium is an essential nutrient, part of a healthy diet. Especially key to maintain strong bones and build bones as children grow, this mineral
also helps to ensure muscles and nerves function properly. Even one’s heartbeat is dependent on maintaining normal calcium levels, as well as the necessary aspect of blood clotting in case of both major and minor wounds.
Dangers of Low and High Calcium Levels
Abnormal levels of calcium are not a problem in the short term, as the body is able to return to equilibrium in short periods of time. However, abnormal calcium levels that last long periods of time can cause a number of painful, dangerous health problems, some of which can even be fatal.
Low levels of calcium, or hypocalcaemia, can result in widespread involuntary muscle contractions, increased susceptibility to bruising, tingling in the extremities, and changes in the heart beat. In extreme cases, problems may become life threatening, with complications such as laryngospasm (random, involuntary spasms of the vocal cords) and cardiac arrhythmia (irregular, too fast, or too slow heart beats).
High calcium levels in the body, or hypercalcemia, can also cause a number of problems including peptic ulcers, kidney stones, constipation, and bone pain. Minor symptoms include fatigue, increased urination, and constipation. At extremely high levels of blood calcium, cardiac arrest and coma are possibilities.
Maintaining Optimal Calcium Levels
Oddly enough for such an important aspect of human health, separate laboratories can set different ranges for what they consider to be normal calcium levels. Most labs set the acceptable range for blood calcium between 9.0 to 10.5 mg/dL in adults, and 7.6 to 10.8 mg/dL in children. Calcium levels are naturally lower in children than adults due to their body’s demands for this mineral to help build bones as children grow.
Current guidelines to maintain normal calcium levels recommend 1,000 mg of calcium per day for adults age 19 to 50. Younger individuals with growing bones and older people who face the dangers of osteoporosis need higher levels of calcium intake to maintain normal calcium levels. Children ages 9 to 13 should consume about 1,300 mg daily and anyone older than age 50 should aim for around 1,200 mg per day.
Most people can easily obtain enough calcium from their diet, particularly those that already follow a healthy diet and lifestyle. Just one 8 ounce serving of yogurt offers approximately 415 mg. of calcium, while an 8 ounce glass of milk offers around 300 mg. In addition, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and collard greens pack a nutritious punch all around, supplying necessary calcium and a host of other nutrients with minimal calories.
Many processed items are now fortified with calcium as well, such as bread, cereal, and fruit juices. While these are great for individuals that eat a less healthy diet, anyone that
eats a healthy, balanced diet should skip these products to avoid consuming too much calcium in their diet. However, these can help anyone that needs to consumer higher levels of calcium in their diet to meet their daily intake requirements without having to take supplements or drastically change their diet.
For anyone who cannot get enough calcium from their diet for one reason or another, calcium supplements are readily available over the counter. Calcium carbonate is
surprisingly inexpensive, and is easily absorbed by the body when taken with food. Individuals with low stomach acid can take calcium citrate instead, which is easier for the body to absorb and put to work.
Calcium is an essential mineral for any person’s body to function efficiently, regardless of health, age, or other medical problems. An annual physician’s check up, obtaining
blood work as ordered, is generally prevention enough for any problems with calcium levels. By eating a healthy, balanced diet, most individuals can prevent problems related to calcium level.