You need calcium to keep your body strong and functional, so it’s a good thing calcium is the most abundant mineral in your system.
This mighty mineral helps your blood clot, your blood vessels contract and dilate, your nerves transmit signals, your muscles flex and relax, and your organs secrete hormones — and it only takes 1% of your calcium supply to do all of that. The other 99% of your body’s calcium resides in your bones and teeth where it’s stored in reserve in case you ever need it elsewhere.
If you don’t get enough calcium from food and/or supplements, it can lead to hypocalcemia, a calcium disorder that can weaken your bones, lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures, and cause problems with your nerves and muscles. In severe cases, hypocalcemia can increase your risk for heart disease, hypertension, stroke, vision problems, and some cancers.
Our board-certified physicians at The Endocrine Center in Houston, Texas, specialize in correcting calcium disorders and their underlying causes.
Did you know that your skin and nails can tell you if you’re running low on calcium? Here, we take a closer look at how your skin and nails may be sending up a flare to warn you about hypocalcemia — calcium deficiency.
Symptoms of hypocalcemia
You can live with a calcium deficiency for a long time without realizing it. That’s because your other systems draw from the reserve in your bones to get what they need. This gradual siphoning weakens your bones over time. Your bones can’t tell you they need more calcium until they break or you get them tested, but other symptoms can alert you.
If you’re not getting enough calcium, you might feel fatigued, constipated, and unable to concentrate, but those could be signs of anything, including lack of sleep. You may notice that your muscles are stiff and achy or that your fingers and toes get tingly sometimes, but again, you can chalk that up to any number of benign issues.
Early signs of calcium deficiency are difficult to spot. Often, they show up first in your skin and nails, but even then, it’s not a definitive diagnosis. However, paying attention to the condition of your nails and skin can let you know when to come see our team for diagnostic testing.
Signs that your nails are hungry for calcium
When your body lacks calcium, your nails become thinner, weaker, and brittle. You may notice that they break easily and just don’t look as healthy as they used to. Although nails and bones are made up of different substances, they’re similar enough that poor nail health may be an early marker of bone density problems.
Calcium-deprived nails also grow very slowly. That said, almost all nutrient deficiencies can slow down the growth of your nails, so you can’t assume the culprit is calcium, but it’s one of the top contenders.
Signs that your skin is hungry for calcium
Like your nails, your skin relies on a good diet that contains plenty of calcium. Starve your skin, and you notice the signs right away: a dry, dull appearance and itchiness.
In fact, calcium deficiency is directly linked to childhood eczema, so children with food intolerances or allergies that preclude them from consuming dairy products may develop eczema as a result.
Hypocalcemia is also a risk factor for psoriasis, and studies suggest that patients with this condition can benefit from incorporating calcium-rich dairy foods into their diet.
The treatment for hypocalcemia depends entirely on the root cause.
One of the reasons you may have a calcium deficiency is that your parathyroid gland may be malfunctioning and not producing enough parathyroid hormone.
Hypocalcemia can also stem from dietary deficiencies, medications that interfere with absorption, hormonal changes, and genetics.
Our team gets to the bottom of your calcium deficiency and treats accordingly with medications, supplements, and weight-bearing exercises as needed to protect your bone health.
If your skin and nails are trying to tell you they’re starving for calcium, schedule a consultation at The Endocrine Center to find out for sure. We have three locations in the Houston area to serve you. Simply call the office closest to you or book online today.