Hypocalcemia (Calcium Deficiency Disease)

What is calcium deficiency disease?

Calcium is a vital mineral. Your body uses it to build strong bones and teeth. Calcium is also needed for your heart and other muscles to function properly. When you don’t get enough calcium, you increase your risk of developing disorders like osteoporosis, osteopenia, and calcium deficiency disease (hypocalcemia). Children who don’t get enough calcium may not grow to their full potential adult height.

You should consume the recommended amount of calcium per day through the food you eat, supplements, or vitamins.

What causes hypocalcemia?

Many people are at increased risk for calcium deficiency as they age. This deficiency may be due to a variety of factors, including:

  • poor calcium intake over a long period of time, especially in childhood
  • medications that may decrease calcium absorption
  • dietary intolerance to foods rich in calcium
  • hormonal changes, especially in women
  • certain genetic factors

It is important to ensure proper calcium intake at all ages.

For children and teenagers, the recommended daily allowances for calcium are the same for both sexes. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the daily allowances are:

Age group Daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA)
Children, 9–18 years 1,300 mg
Children, 4–8 years 1,000 mg
Children, 1–3 years 700 mg
Children, 7–12 months 260 mg
Children, 0–6 months 200 mg

According to the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines, calcium requirements for adults are:

Group Daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA)
Women, 71 years and up 1,200 mg
Women, 51–70 years 1,200 mg
Women, 31–50 years 1,000 mg
Women, 19–30 years 1,000 mg
Men, 71 years and up 1,200 mg
Men, 51–70 years 1,000 mg
Men, 31–50 years 1,000 mg
Men, 19–30 years 1,000 mg

Women need to increase their calcium intake earlier in life than men, starting in middle age. Meeting the necessary calcium requirement is particularly important as a woman approaches menopause.

Women in menopause should also increase their calcium intake to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and calcium deficiency disease. The decline in the hormone estrogen during menopause causes a woman’s bones to thin faster.