Everything You Need to Know About Your Calcium Levels

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Everything You Need to Know About Your Calcium Levels

Date of Content: January 9, 2024
Written by: Jess Gayo
Reviewed by: Maarit Tiirikainen, PhD


What is Calcium?

Ever wondered what keeps your bones sturdy, muscles robust, and nerve signals firing seamlessly? Scientifically, calcium ranks as the fifth-most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, and within our bodies, it commands a similar reverence. Not confined to skeletal strength alone, calcium acts as a cellular messenger, influencing vital processes ranging from blood clotting to neurotransmitter release. 

With the symbol Ca and atomic number 20, calcium is a vital mineral essential for various physiological functions in living organisms. As one of the key building blocks of bones and teeth, approximately 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in the skeletal system, providing structural support and strength.

Beyond its role in maintaining bone health, calcium plays a crucial role in numerous biological processes. It acts as a signaling molecule, participating in cell communication, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission. Calcium ions serve as cofactors for various enzymes, influencing blood clotting, hormone secretion, and cellular membrane stability.

Calcium Levels

Where is Calcium Found?

As a quintessential mineral for life, calcium can be found abundantly in diverse sources, showcasing the intricate interplay between geology, biology, and nutrition. In geological terms, calcium ranks as the fifth-most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, manifesting in various forms such as limestone, gypsum, and fluorite. These mineral deposits are foundational sources, contributing to the calcium cycle that sustains life.

In the biological realm, calcium is prevalent in living organisms and is predominantly concentrated in bones, teeth, and soft tissues. Dairy products like milk and cheese stand out as rich dietary sources, providing a readily absorbable form of calcium. Leafy green vegetables, fortified plant-based milk, nuts, and seeds also contribute significantly to calcium intake.

Understanding the bioavailability of calcium is crucial. Dairy products are efficient sources, but absorption from plant-based sources can be influenced by factors like oxalates and phytates.

You may also like: Optimizing Vitamin B6 Levels for Overall Wellness

Does the Body Need Calcium?

The human body’s demand for calcium is not just a nutritional preference; it is a biological imperative rooted in fundamental physiological processes. As a principal component of bones and teeth, calcium stands sentinel in providing structural support and integrity. Bone remodeling, a continuous physiological process, involves a delicate equilibrium of calcium absorption, release, and deposition, ensuring skeletal strength and density.

Beyond its skeletal stronghold, calcium is a linchpin in cellular signaling. Intracellular calcium ions function as versatile messengers, modulating a myriad of cellular activities. Muscle contraction, neurotransmitter release, and hormone secretion all hinge on the orchestrated rise and fall of calcium concentrations within cells.

Calcium homeostasis, the body’s meticulous regulation of calcium levels, involves a complex interplay between the digestive system, kidneys, and skeletal system. Inadequate calcium intake can lead to health issues such as osteoporosis and impaired neuromuscular function.

What Can Affect Calcium Levels?

Genetic Factors

Among several significant studies,  a groundbreaking genome-wide association study was performed in 2013, involving 39,400 individuals from 17 different population-based cohorts. The study delved into the genetic determinants of serum calcium levels and identified seven genetic loci, including six new regions to be associated with serum calcium, shedding light on genes previously unknown in this context.

Of particular note are associations with genetic variants (SNPs) near genes implicated in rare monogenic calcemic disorders, such as CYP24A1, GATA3, and CARS1. Additionally, SNPs associated with genes linked to the hormonal control of serum calcium, like DGKD, DGKH/KIAA0564, and GCKR, were identified. The study explored the expression of these genes in key organs like the gut, kidney, and bone, revealing their modulation in response to dietary calcium in mice.

This research has significantly advanced our understanding of the genetic basis of calcium homeostasis. It not only confirmed the role of known genes like CASR with SNP rs1979869 but also unveiled novel players in the intricate orchestration of serum calcium levels. The findings underscore the importance of considering genetic factors in comprehending the nuances of calcium regulation and give way for personalized approaches to calcium-related health issues.

Environmental Factors

Calcium, a vital mineral orchestrating various physiological functions in the human body, is subject to the influences of environmental factors that can shape its availability and absorption. The intricate interplay between the environment and calcium metabolism underscores the importance of understanding these factors for maintaining optimal health.

  1. Dietary Calcium Intake: The primary source of calcium for the body is dietary intake. The variability in individuals’ diets can significantly impact calcium levels. A diet rich in dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods ensures an adequate supply of calcium. Conversely, diets low in calcium-containing foods can lead to deficiencies, affecting bone health and overall calcium homeostasis.
  2. Vitamin D Levels: Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in calcium absorption. Synthesized in the skin in response to sunlight, vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium in the intestines. Insufficient exposure to sunlight or low dietary intake of vitamin D can impair calcium absorption, leading to potential deficiencies despite adequate dietary calcium intake.
  3. Age and Developmental Stages: Calcium requirements vary across different life stages. During periods of rapid growth, such as childhood and adolescence, or in pregnancy and lactation, the body’s demand for calcium increases. Environmental factors impacting these life stages, such as inadequate nutrition or limited sunlight exposure, can affect calcium levels and compromise skeletal development.
  4. Physical Activity and Exercise: Regular physical activity positively influences calcium metabolism. Weight-bearing exercises stimulate bone health by increasing bone density and promoting calcium retention. Conversely, sedentary lifestyles or lack of exercise may contribute to calcium loss from bones, potentially impacting overall calcium levels.
  5. Medications and Health Conditions: Certain medications and health conditions can influence calcium levels. For instance, medications like corticosteroids or anticonvulsants may interfere with calcium absorption or utilization. Chronic kidney disease can also disrupt calcium balance, affecting its excretion and retention in the body.
  6. Environmental Exposures: Environmental factors such as pollution and contaminants may indirectly impact calcium levels. Exposure to pollutants like heavy metals can affect bone health and disrupt calcium homeostasis. Additionally, regions with variations in water hardness may influence the calcium content of drinking water, contributing to overall dietary intake.
  7. Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, particularly in women during menopause, can influence calcium metabolism. Estrogen, a hormone with a protective effect on bone density, decreases during menopause, leading to an increased risk of calcium-related issues like osteoporosis.

Understanding these multifaceted environmental factors provides insights into maintaining a delicate calcium balance within the body. A holistic approach to health that considers dietary choices, lifestyle factors, and environmental influences is crucial for sustaining optimal calcium levels and supporting the intricate physiological processes that depend on this essential mineral.

What are the Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency?

Calcium deficiency, known as hypocalcemia, manifests through a spectrum of symptoms reflecting its pivotal role in various physiological processes. 

  • Muscle Weakness and Cramps: Inadequate calcium levels impair muscle contraction and relaxation, leading to weakness and spasms. This is particularly evident in skeletal muscles.
  • Tingling or Numbness: Calcium is essential for nerve function. Deficiency can result in abnormal nerve impulses, causing sensations of tingling or numbness, often in the extremities.
  • Brittle Nails and Hair Loss: Calcium contributes to the structural integrity of hair and nails. A deficiency may lead to brittle nails and increased hair shedding.
  • Osteoporosis: Insufficient calcium over an extended period can contribute to decreased bone density, making bones more susceptible to fractures and osteoporosis.
  • Dental Issues: Calcium deficiency may affect tooth development and oral health, leading to issues such as weak enamel, tooth decay, and gum diseases.
  • Cardiac Abnormalities: Calcium plays a crucial role in cardiac muscle contraction and the regulation of heart rhythm. Deficiency may result in arrhythmias and other cardiovascular complications.
  • Fatigue and Weakness: Calcium is involved in energy metabolism. In its absence, individuals may experience fatigue and overall weakness.
  • Poor Blood Clotting: Calcium is vital for the blood clotting process. Deficiency can lead to impaired clot formation, potentially causing excessive bleeding.
  • Impaired Cognitive Function: Calcium is essential for neurotransmitter release and synaptic transmission. Deficiency may contribute to cognitive issues such as memory impairment and difficulty concentrating.
  • Tetany: Severe calcium deficiency can lead to tetany, a condition marked by involuntary muscle contractions, spasms, and respiratory difficulties.

Identification of these symptoms is crucial for timely intervention to prevent long-term complications associated with calcium deficiency. While these signs are indicative, a healthcare professional should assess and diagnose any suspected calcium deficiency, ensuring appropriate measures are taken to restore optimal calcium levels.

Is Too Much Calcium Also Bad?

While calcium is an essential mineral for various physiological functions, including bone health and cellular signaling, excessive intake may pose health risks. Scientific evidence suggests that surpassing recommended calcium levels can lead to adverse effects.

  • Kidney Stones: Elevated calcium intake, particularly from supplements, may contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Excess calcium in the urine can combine with other compounds, such as oxalate, leading to stone development.
  • Cardiovascular Issues: Some studies suggest a potential link between high calcium intake, especially through supplements, and an increased risk of cardiovascular events. Excessive calcium may deposit in arteries, potentially contributing to arterial stiffness and cardiovascular complications.
  • Hypercalcemia: Consuming more calcium than the body can regulate may result in hypercalcemia, a condition characterized by elevated levels of calcium in the blood. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, and impaired kidney function.
  • Interference with Mineral Absorption: Excessive calcium intake can interfere with the absorption of other essential minerals, such as iron and zinc. This may lead to deficiencies in these minerals, impacting overall health.

While meeting recommended calcium levels is crucial, moderation is key. Obtaining calcium from a balanced diet, rather than relying heavily on supplements, helps mitigate the risks associated with overconsumption. It is advisable to consult healthcare professionals for personalized guidance, considering factors such as age, gender, and individual health conditions to ensure optimal calcium intake without exceeding safe limits.

What is the Suggested Daily Intake of Calcium?

Scientific recommendations, rooted in extensive research, provide clear guidelines for ensuring individuals maintain optimal calcium levels.

Infants and Children

During the critical phases of growth and development, infants require 200-260 mg of calcium per day. This escalates in childhood, with recommended intakes ranging from 700 mg for children aged 1-3 years to 1,300 mg for adolescents aged 9-18 years.


For adults aged 19-50 years, the suggested daily calcium intake is 1,000 mg, which increases to 1,200 mg for women over 50 and men over 70 due to the heightened risk of bone loss. Men aged 51-70 maintain a daily recommendation of 1,000 mg.

Pregnant and Lactating Women

During pregnancy and lactation, calcium demands rise. Pregnant women under 18 should aim for 1,300 mg, while those aged 19 and above require 1,000 mg. Lactating women have a recommended intake of 1,000 mg, emphasizing the continued importance of calcium for both mother and child.

Older Adults

Postmenopausal women, prone to increased bone loss, are advised to maintain a daily calcium intake of 1,200 mg, coupled with adequate vitamin D for optimal absorption.

Understanding these scientifically derived guidelines facilitates the formulation of well-balanced diets that cater to the body’s varying calcium needs at different life stages. Adherence to these recommendations supports not only skeletal health but also the myriad physiological functions reliant on this indispensable mineral.

Is Calcium Beneficial for Kidney Stones?

The relationship between calcium intake and kidney stones is nuanced, and scientific evidence suggests that the right balance is crucial. While excessive intake of supplemental calcium may contribute to the formation of kidney stones, dietary calcium appears to play a protective role.

Studies indicate that consuming adequate dietary calcium, primarily from food sources, may reduce the risk of kidney stones. Calcium binds to oxalates in the intestines, preventing their absorption and subsequent excretion through the kidneys. Oxalates are compounds that, when concentrated in the urine, can contribute to the formation of stones.

Conversely, high doses of calcium supplements, particularly in the absence of adequate water intake, may increase the risk of kidney stones. The unabsorbed excess calcium can combine with oxalates in the kidneys, contributing to stone formation.

Maintaining an optimal balance involves obtaining sufficient calcium from dietary sources while avoiding excessive supplementation. Adequate hydration is equally vital, diluting urine and minimizing the concentration of stone-forming substances.

Individual factors, such as a history of kidney stones or certain medical conditions, may influence the relationship between calcium intake and stone formation. Individuals must consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice based on their health status and risk factors.

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Benefits of Calcium

Calcium, an indispensable mineral, extends its influence far beyond the realm of skeletal health. This essential element orchestrates an array of physiological functions, contributing to overall well-being and vitality.

Skeletal Strength and Density

Foremost among calcium’s benefits is its pivotal role in maintaining skeletal health. Approximately 99% of the body’s calcium resides in bones and teeth, providing structural integrity. Adequate calcium intake throughout life supports bone density, reducing the risk of fractures and conditions like osteoporosis.

Cellular Signaling and Function

Calcium serves as a universal cellular messenger, regulating a multitude of intracellular processes. From muscle contraction to neurotransmitter release and hormone secretion, calcium’s influence spans the entire spectrum of cellular activities, ensuring the smooth functioning of physiological systems.

Blood Clotting

Calcium is essential for the blood clotting process, playing a crucial role in the formation of a stable blood clot when injury occurs. Adequate calcium levels are vital to prevent excessive bleeding and maintain hemostasis.

Nerve Transmission

Neuronal communication hinges on calcium’s ability to facilitate the release of neurotransmitters at synapses. This process is fundamental for transmitting signals between nerve cells, enabling sensory perception, motor coordination, and cognitive functions.

Enzyme Activation

Calcium acts as a cofactor for numerous enzymes, influencing a variety of biochemical reactions. These enzymatic reactions, from digestive processes to energy metabolism, are integral to the body’s overall function and vitality.

Cardiovascular Health

Calcium contributes to the contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle, maintaining a regular heartbeat. Adequate calcium levels support cardiovascular health, and research suggests a potential link between optimal calcium intake and reduced risk of hypertension.

Dental Health

In conjunction with phosphorus, calcium forms hydroxyapatite, a mineral compound crucial for tooth enamel. Sufficient calcium intake is instrumental in preventing dental issues such as cavities and ensuring the structural integrity of teeth.

Blood Pressure Regulation

Emerging studies suggest a potential role for calcium in blood pressure regulation. While the mechanism is complex, it appears that adequate calcium intake may contribute to the dilation of blood vessels, assisting in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure levels.

Prenatal Health and Development

Calcium is vital during pregnancy for the development of the fetal skeleton and teeth. Insufficient calcium intake during this period can lead to complications such as pre-eclampsia and impact the long-term skeletal health of both the mother and the child.

Weight Management

Some studies propose a link between adequate calcium intake and weight management. Calcium may play a role in fat metabolism, potentially influencing weight loss and maintenance, although the exact mechanisms are still under investigation.

Understanding the extensive repertoire of calcium’s benefits underscores its status as a truly indispensable element for overall health. From the foundational support it provides to bones and teeth to its intricate involvement in cellular processes, calcium stands as a linchpin in the symphony of life.

LifeDNA’s Calcium Levels Report

Discover the keys to a healthier, more vibrant you with LifeDNA’s Calcium Levels Report. Delve into the intricate details of your unique genetic profile and unlock insights into your body’s calcium needs. Our scientifically-backed report provides a comprehensive analysis, shedding light on how your genes influence calcium metabolism, bone health, and overall well-being.

Understanding your calcium levels is just the beginning. LifeDNA offers a suite of genetic reports, each tailored to provide personalized recommendations for your wellness journey. Explore our CoQ10 Levels Report, Vitamin C Levels Report, and Vitamin E Levels Report, among others. With close to 200 trait reports available across various categories like Vitamins and Supplements, Wellness, Nutrition, Fitness, Sleep, and Personality and Cognition, LifeDNA’s genetic insights empower you to make informed decisions about your health.

Wellness is a journey, and LifeDNA is your trusted companion. Our reports go beyond generic advice, offering precision and personalization based on your genetic blueprint. Take the first step towards a healthier life by subscribing to LifeDNA’s comprehensive reports. Uncover the secrets your genes hold and embark on a wellness journey tailored just for you. Start today and experience the transformative power of personalized well-being.


  • Calcium is the fifth-most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and a vital mineral for bones, muscles, and nerve function. It acts as a cellular messenger influencing blood clotting, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission.
  • Calcium is predominantly present in bones and teeth in our body and is available from dairy products, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and fortified foods. Bioavailability varies, influenced by factors like oxalates and phytates in plant-based sources.
  • Calcium is crucial for bone health, structural support, and cellular signaling. Skeletal strength, bone remodeling, and cellular activities like muscle contraction depend on calcium.
  • Dietary intake, vitamin D levels, age, physical activity, medications, environmental exposures, and hormonal changes impact calcium levels.
  • Excessive calcium intake may lead to kidney stones, cardiovascular issues, hypercalcemia, and interference with mineral absorption. Moderation and obtaining calcium from a balanced diet are vital for your overall well-being.
  • Recommendations vary for different life stages: infants, children, adults, pregnant and lactating women, and older adults.
  • Adequate calcium intake has many benefits for the body including skeletal strength, cardiovascular health, and weight management.


  1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/calcium/
  2. https://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/20/calcium
  3. https://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/20/calcium#:~:text=nuts%20and%20seeds.-,Natural%20abundance,%2D%20or%20fluoro%2Dphosphate).
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3385957/
  5. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/vitamin-d-and-calcium
  6. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/c/corticosteroid-induced-osteoporosis.html#:~:text=Corticosteroids%20tend%20to%20both%20reduce,your%20risk%20of%20developing%20osteoporosis.
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1117023/#:~:text=Oestrogen%20can%20increase%20calcium%20absorption,%CE%B1%20hydroxylaseactivity%20in%20the%20kidney.&text=Withdrawal%20of%20oestrogens%20would%20theoretically,be%20explained%20by%20this%20mechanism.
  8. https://www.healthline.com/health/calcium-deficiency-disease
  9. https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/hypercalcemia#:~:text=Symptoms%20due%20to%20high%20calcium,to%20changes%20in%20the%20kidneys
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556488/
  11. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-calcium-do-you-really-need
  12. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/diet#:~:text=Eat%20and%20drink%20calcium%20foods,that%20kidney%20stones%20will%20form.
  13. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/calcium-supplements/art-20047097#:~:text=The%20benefits%20of%20calcium,diabetes%20and%20high%20blood%20pressure.
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2246942/

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