What is calcium?

Calcium is a mineral found in many foods. The body needs calcium to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions. Almost all calcium is stored in bones and teeth, where it supports structure and hardness.

The body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and every body part. Calcium is also used to help move blood throughout the body and to release hormones and enzymes that affect almost every function in the human body.

Insufficient intakes of calcium do not produce obvious symptoms in the short term because the body maintains calcium levels in the blood by taking it from bone. Over the long term, intakes of calcium below recommended levels have health consequences, such as causing low bone mass (osteopenia) and increasing the risks of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of calcium deficiency include:

  • Numbness and tingling in the fingers
  • Convulsions
  • Abnormal heart rhythms that can lead to death if not corrected

These symptoms occur almost always in people with serious health problems or who are undergoing certain medical treatments.