Calcium is another mineral that is included in the Basic Metabolic panel blood test. It is the most abundant mineral in the body, An average healthy male has 2.5 – 3 pounds of calcium, while an average healthy female has about 2 pounds. Yet 99 percent of the body’s calcium supple is in the bones and teeth, which leaves about 1 percent in the cells and body fluids. Just about everyone understands that calcium is essential for strong teeth and bones. However, Calcium is “essential” for proper nerve impulse transmission, enzyme function, blood clotting and energy production. The level of calcium in the body is regulated by what I refer to as a “phone type loop” a pathway that controls a certain physiological function – involving the parathyroid hormone (PTH), vitamin D, and calcitonin. The amount of magnesium and phosphorus in the body also affects our calcium levels.
We should be getting calcium intake through the foods we are eating, the majority of people rely on the “dairy” category for their calcium ratio’s to be met.
Another good source is from fish that have bones like salmon and sardines; and from the plant family sesame seeds and leafy green veggies have calcium too. Understand, as we age, we need to maintain a balance and adequate intake of the mineral since both high and low levels can increase the chances of developing bone deterioration, like osteoporosis. Low calcium levels can affect the heart, kidneys, nerves and of course our teeth. Taking proper care of your teeth is IMPORTANT, you cannot eat if you cannot chew your food.
However, another issue is referred to as “hypercalcemia” which means high calcium; which puts your kidneys at risk.
A blood calcium test (also referred to as an ionized calcium test) indicates the amount of calcium in the BLOOD not the BONES. This amount is reflected in the results of a total calcium test, which measures both the “free” (meaning circulating) and the “bound” forms of calcium in the blood. The reference ranges for blood calcium levels, which are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg.dL), are below.
Results that fall within the normal range generally mean that calcium is being properly metabolized, so there is NO specific target range for this one.
REFERENCE RANGES FOR CALCIUM
Calcium (mg/dL) Category
Greater than 12 Very high (moderate to severe hypercalcemia)
10.2 to 12 High (mild hypercalcemia)
8.6 to 10.2 Normal
less than 8.6 Low (Hypocalcemia)
So if for instance, a person is exhibiting classic symptoms of kidney stones, a urine calcium test may also be ordered. Men should produce less than 300 mg. of urine calcium per day, and ladies, less than 250 mg per day. Amounts greater than 300 mg. per day may indicate that too much calcium is being consumed or, alternatively, being pulled from the bones. High urine calcium levels may also indicate that too much calcium is being absorbed from the intestine, which occurs in certain diseases. Leaking, or the loss of calcium due to having compromised kidney function, may also be one of the contributing factors. In general, 100-300 mg. per day can be considered normal, depending on the person.
WHY WOULD SOMEONES CALCIUM LEVELS BE TOO HIGH?
The medical term used to describe too much calcium in the blood is hypercalcemia, a condition that affects less than 1 percent of the population. In most cases, hypercalcemia is caused by parathyroid disease or hyperparathyroidism, which is when an over production of parathyroid hormone is being released by the glands. These glands, there are 4 lobes that sit on each side of your thyroid. The number one cause of this issue ; the growth of benign tumors in the parathyroid glands, which are responsible for controlling the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood.
Kidney disease can also cause the parathyroid glands to become overactive, as it disturbs blood calcium and phosphorus levels and, therefore, disrupts that telephone call, (when the body NEEDS something, it makes a phone call in a variety of ways to ask for what it needs and where it needs it.)
Other contributing imbalances would be:
- adrenal gland issues
- advanced liver disease
- certain cancers, including breast, lung, leukemia and prostate with bone metastasis
- diet high in calcium (more than 2,000 mg. per day)
- a hereditary condition that hinders the body’s ability to regulate calcium as it should
- high levels of vitamin A and or vitamin D
- kidney disease or failure
- medications, like calcium containing antacids, lithium and thiazide diuretics
- prolonged immobilization
Hypercalcemia can be detected and, in most cases, effectively treated, long-term issues are unlikely. But there are several health issues that may be connected to hypercalcemia. like heart arrhythmias which is having an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, intestinal issues like peptic ulcer issues, kidney stones, thyroid disease, vitamin D toxicity, and on some occasions, vitamin A toxicity. You may also have low iron levels, magnesium, vitamin K and/or zinc, which share absorption sites with calcium in your intestines and, therefore, do not absorb as easily when calcium intake is too high.
High calcium levels are also associated with changes in the nervous system, that contributes to confusion and dementia. Although, osteoporosis which is when the bones begin to thin, is more commonly linked to low calcium, it is possible to develop this condition as well as other bone diseases, as a result of having too much calcium over an extended period of time.
ARE THERE SYMPTOMS YOU WOULD HAVE WITH HIGH CALCIUM?
Mild hypercalcemia usually doesn’t have symptoms, but moderate or severe cases can cause abdominal pain, constipation, depression, fatigue, headaches, nausea and in some vomiting. Loss of appetite may also be an issues, while thirst and the urge to urinate increases quite a bit as well.
SUPPLEMENTS THAT MAY HELP WITH CONDITIONS RELATED TO HAVING HIGH CALCIUM
Green tea extract: is reported to decrease kidney stone formation, which may be due to high calcium levels, as well as improve bone density in older women.
Magnesium: I recommend Magnesium aspartate, taurate, glycinate or amino acid chelate. These support bone building and balance calcium intake. The ratio of calcium to magnesium intake should be 2 :1
Magnesium has been reported to improve blood vessel function and insulin resistance, in addition to decreasing LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides. Also essential for phase-I liver detoxification.
Eating foods like artichokes, asparagus, celery, melons, and parsley, have detoxifying properties and can help with cleansing your kidneys.
Drink more water, it improves your kidneys ability to filter
Incorporate more low calcium foods into your diet. like : apples, asparagus, beets, cantaloupe, chicken, cottage cheese, eggplant, grapes, pineapple, pinto beans, strawberries and tomatoes.
Limit your use of painkillers. Like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium which can contribute to kidney failure with over use.
WHAT ABOUT LOW CALCIUM ISSUES?
Low blood calcium has a number of causes, but the most common is hypoalbuminemia, which is a protein in your blood that acts as a carrier for calcium, so when levels are low, blood calcium also will be. This is usually seen in someone who has been in the hospital recovering from an acute injury, illness or malnutrition.
Some other causes:
- not gonna sugar coat it, but “age”
- diet low in fat and high in fiber
- excessive alcohol or caffeine use
- high intake of phosphorus, which is going to be in carbonated drinks, lunch meats, sea foods, cheeses, milk, whole grain breads and lots of processed snack foods.
- under active parathyroid glands
- intestinal malabsorption issues, i.e. Celiac’s disease
- kidney disease or kidney failure
- low intake of magnesium, protein and/or vitamin D
- inflammation of pancreas
MEDICATIONS & LOW CALCIUM ISSUES:
Sometimes, low blood calcium is NOT caused by diet or health issues, but by prescription medications. The following drugs may affect the level of calcium in your body that can lead to low calcium issues.
- aluminum and magnesium antacids
- antacids or anti ulcer drugs like proton-pump inhibitors called Prilosec, and histamine receptor blockers like Tagamet
- Antibiotics, including aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones, tetracycline, and isoniazid.
- anticonvulsants like Tegretol, Dilantin, and Solfoton
- Bile acid sequestrants, like Questran, which are used to lower cholesterol
- Bisphosphonates, like Fosomax
- Colchicine, a gout medication
- Digoxin, which treats congestive heart failure
- Diuretics like Lasix and potassium sparing Triamterene, or Dyazide and Maxide
- EDTA, chelating agent
- Levothyroxine, a hormone replacement to treat a underactive thyroid
- Mineral oil
ARE THERE SYMPTOMS YOU WOULD RECOGNIZE IF YOU HAD LOW CALCIUM ISSUES?
In early stages there typically aren’t any symptoms that would get your attention. As the condition worsens, some experience abdominal discomfort, anxiety, tingling in their fingers, muscle cramps or spasm. Irritability, lethargy, and even frequent bone fractures. a symptom of osteoporosis.
SUPPLEMENTS THAT MAY BE HELPFUL FOR LOW CALCIUM
Calcium: in a highly absorbable form like aspartate, or hydroxyapatite. Citrate is NOT my favorite form in line with mineral co-factoring, as if any inflammation or irritation is already happening citrate can add to the irritation.
Magnesium: aspartate, taurate, glycinate, or amino acid chelate. Supports bone building and balances calcium intake. The ratio of calcium to magnesium should be 2:1.
Vitamin D3: is needed for proper calcium absorption. I want to add that taking a ridiculously high “I.U.” (international unit), of Vitamin D can increase the risk of hardened arteries, and high blood calcium levels. 4,000 I.U. would be a safe limit, and I always recommend taking in smaller I.U. capsules multiple times a day for better metabolism vs. one over the top large dose at one sitting.
SOMETHING TO CONSIDER
So many people think no further than “dairy” for calcium intake. I always try to encourage my peeps to think outside the box and broaden their horizons… Kale offers (100 mg. per raw serving,) Bok choy (74 mg. per raw serving,) and broccoli (21 mg. per raw serving,) these are all great choices of adding more calcium into the diet.
Dr. Norman Walker in “Fresh Vegetables & Fruit Juices” states “Juicing raw carrot ,beet, and cucumber juice is a benefit for gallstones, kidney stones and gravel in the gall bladder and kidneys are the natural result of the inability of the body functions to eliminate from the system the inorganic calcium deposits formed after eating concentrated starches and sugars.” He goes on to say ” Vital organic calcium is needed by the entire system, and such calcium, the only kind that IS soluble in water, can be obtained ONLY from fruits and vegetables, and their juices when these are raw and fresh. As such, it passes through the liver and is completely assimilated in the process of gland functions and cell and tissue building.” Later he also states that ” one pint of carrot juice, daily, has more constructive body value than 25 pounds of calcium tablets.”
Ok, that covers Calcium, the next stop on the Basic Metabolic Panel will be Potassium.
Thanks to all of you who take the time to read, follow and share the topics I post about. You are all helping me plant the seeds one post at a time towards helping people learn more about how to gain a deeper understanding of supporting their health by incorporating more natural applications through foods and high quality raw whole food supplements.
Dr. Jodi Barnett N.D.
Harvested Health LLC
James B. LaValle, RPh, CCn “Cracking the Metabolic code”
Dr. Kurt W. Donsbach; “The Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research”
N.W. Walker D. Sc. ; “Raw Vegetable Juices, What’s Missing in Your Body?”
Henry G. Bieler, M.D. “Food is Your Best Medicine”
Featured Image: http://www.Organicfacts.net