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Calcium Deficiency & Toxicity Symptoms

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  • 0:02 Calcium
  • 0:53 Deficiency
  • 2:51 Toxicity
  • 3:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Calcium helps strengthen your bones and is also needed for muscle contractions and proper nervous system function. Learn how blood calcium levels are regulated and what happens when there is too little or too much of this mineral in your body in this lesson.

Calcium

Besides your teeth, there's no harder structure in your body than your bones. Your bones form the sturdy framework of your body, just like the boards in the walls of your home make up the sturdy framework of your house. But what makes your bones so hard?

Well, your bones are hardened by minerals. Minerals are inorganic compounds needed by your body to regulate chemical reactions and maintain structures. There are many different minerals needed for optimum health, but when we're talking about bone strength, calcium is at the top of the list. You get calcium into your body through food sources such as dairy products, legumes, almonds and some dark green vegetables. In this lesson, you will learn more about calcium and what happens when you have too little or too much of this mineral in your body.

Deficiency

If you were to look inside your body, you would see that 99% of calcium is found in your bones and teeth. The amount that's left over might be small, but that doesn't mean it's unimportant. Calcium is a mineral needed not only for strengthening bones and teeth, but also for proper muscle contractions, the transmission of nervous system messages, and other important functions dealing with the regulation of heart function and blood clotting.

It's hard to believe that your body only requires 1% of the available calcium to carry out all of these important non-bone-related functions. Yet this system works because your body uses your bones as somewhat of a storage locker for calcium. You see, the level of calcium floating around in your blood is very closely monitored by your body.

If you're consuming too little calcium or calcium is not making it into your body due to a problem with calcium absorption, your blood calcium level drops, alerting your body to the calcium deficiency. When your body detects this, it allows bone resorption, which is the process of breaking down bone to release minerals. So if the blood needs more calcium, it goes to the bone storage locker and reabsorbs as much as it needs. If this process continues over time, the prolonged deficiency of calcium can lead to the reduced bone mass associated with osteoporosis.

We learned that calcium has many functions in your body, so a calcium deficiency will not only affect your bones. For example, we know that calcium helps with your muscles and nervous system function, so it's easy to see that a deficiency would affect these systems and show up as symptoms of muscle cramps, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, and mental confusion. If these symptoms show up, it's likely a good indication that you should get some more calcium into your body.

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