Hypocalcemia is the lack of adequate calcium in the bloodstream and body. Without calcium, the nervous system cannot function effectively. Along with magnesium, sodium, and potassium, calcium acts as a gate through which nerve impulses are conducted. Patients who lack any of these electrolytes will experience adverse side effects, some of which include muscle stiffness, soreness, a lack of feeling in fingers or toes, irritability, fatigue, and depression. Several factors can cause hypocalcemia. Take a look at the most common now.
Vitamin D Deficiency
An inadequate amount of vitamin D in the body prevents the digestive tract from absorbing calcium. A vitamin D deficiency can occur in one of two ways: either you aren't eating enough foods with vitamin D, or your body lacks a specific protein that breaks down vitamin D so it can be absorbed. This lack of protein often stems from a lack of sunlight. The ultraviolet radiation aids in breaking down proteins into molecules that can bind with vitamin D. Everyone needs to get approximately half an hour of natural light each day. If this is not possible, look for an ultraviolet lamp or a blue light, as they mimic the sun.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble substance, and individuals who have a higher percentage of body fat need to eat more of it. Consult a doctor or dietitian for the exact amount. Milk is one of the leading sources, but others include cheese, egg yolks, and fatty fish.
Renal failure occurs when the kidneys stop working properly. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste from the blood, converting vitamin D into calcitriol, and maintaining a balance of calcium and phosphorus in the body. When the kidneys malfunction, phosphorous waste builds up in the blood and overrides calcium, leading to hypocalcemia.
Kidney failure occurs due to age, infection, high blood pressure, or genetic autoimmune disorders. It's important to get a checkup regularly to monitor your body for signs of potential kidney issues. Some of the symptoms of kidney failure include a lack of appetite, swelling in the feet and ankles, muscle cramps, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Although these symptoms individually can have other causes, taken collectively they are a sign of renal malfunction.
You can also improve the likelihood that your kidneys will remain healthy by eating a balanced diet, getting moderate exercise, and drinking plenty of water. Water decreases the work kidneys have to do and helps them last longer. Maintaining a healthy diet also keeps blood pressure low.
Hypoparathyroidism is a deficiency in parathyroid hormone (PTH). This hormone, secreted by the parathyroid gland in the throat, regulates calcium and phosphorus in the blood as kidneys do. Without the parathyroid gland and the regular thyroid, the body cannot metabolize food and liquids properly.
It's rare to have this disorder, but it is possible. Some of the contributing factors are magnesium deficiency, an incorrectly-performed thyroid surgery, or congenital genetic disorders. It can also be caused by trauma to the neck, which can damage the blood vessels. The only ways to treat this disorder and counteract hypocalcemia are calcium carbonate tablets, intravenous vitamin D, or synthetic PTH.
Intolerance To Foods High In Calcium
Another factor that can cause hypocalcemia is an intolerance to foods high in calcium. Many individuals confuse this for lactose intolerance, but it isn't the same thing. The main factor in this symptom is an inability of the body to break down the calcium in certain foods, leading to its elimination through urine or feces. The cause of this intolerance is unknown, but many believe genetics is connected. The only way to counteract this intolerance is to monitor intake carefully, and have urine checked regularly to ascertain calcium levels. The patient may receive calcium supplements, which are easier to absorb.
Hormonal changes occur due to stress, weight gain or loss, life changes, and events such as pregnancy, menopause, or andropause. The most common hormone that deals with calcium is the parathyroid hormone (PTH), which is secreted by the parathyroid glands and is essential in bone remodeling. Bone remodeling is an ongoing process where bone tissue is continuously resorbed and rebuilt over time. Parathyroid hormone is secreted due to low blood serum calcium levels, resulting in hypocalcemia. However, there are a host of others. Estrogen treatments for osteoporosis can disrupt the body's ability to absorb calcium as well. Regular blood tests are needed to determine hormone levels, and medications or injections can help counteract the effects of hypocalcemia.