9 Signs Your Body Needs More Calcium

Calcium is an essential bone-building nutrient, but what happens if you don't get enough? If these signs sound familiar, it's time to get checked by your doctor and ramp up calcium-rich foods in your diet.

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You Get Frequent Muscle Cramps

You’re sound asleep and the cramp strikes. It’s an inching, creeping pain in your hamstring or calf that awakens you from a deep slumber. Sound familiar? Muscle cramps actually have more to do with calcium than potassium, so instead of a banana grab a glass of milk—or one of these other calcium-rich foods.

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You’re Lacking the Sunshine Vitamin

In order to absorb calcium, your body must have enough vitamin D—they’re buddies, so to speak. And to get enough vitamin D from the sun, you’d need to be naked outside for an hour everyday (which may upset your neighbors!). As a dietitian, I recommend that everyone get their vitamin D levels tested and stock up on vitamin D-packed foods, like fatty fish.

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A Simple Bump Breaks a Bone

Our bodies stop building bones in our twenties. And in our thirties, the calcium we eat helps to keep those nutrients in our bones. If a simple bump breaks a bone, it’s critical to eat more calcium-rich foods and begin a weight training program. (These are the best foods to eat before your workout.)

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You Feast on Too Much Meat

A diet high in protein can cause our kidneys to excrete more calcium. If you follow a very high protein diet, such as keto or paleo, it may be putting you at risk for calcium deficiency. Taking a calcium citrate supplement can help.

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Your Teeth Are Suffering

Calcium and phosphorous team up to keep our teeth strong. Tooth decay is a good indicator of poor calcium intake, because when we don’t eat enough calcium-rich foods our body begins to pull the calcium it needs from our bones and teeth. Find out how to improve your dentition here.

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You’re Feeling the Low-Calcium Blues

Calcium is linked to depression, and if you’ve been feeling a daily dose of blues consider the food and mood connection. The DASH diet—which encourages three servings of dairy a day—has been shown to decrease depression. Here are some DASH diet recipes to give your mood a boost.

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Cheese allergies
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You’ve Ditched Dairy

Dietary restrictions—like veganism or paleo—often target dairy, and such restrictions can lead to a calcium deficiency. If you’ve given up cow’s milk, load up on other calcium-rich foods like anchovies, broccoli and almonds.

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You’re Plagued with Itchy Skin and Brittle Nails

Our skin and nails are good indicators of health. Dry, broken and brittle nails may give a glimpse into our blood calcium levels. And psoriasis and eczema have both been linked to calcium deficiency. It’s important to get checked by your physician and supplement with calcium citrate. (Not only do calcium-rich almonds help improve your skin, they have tons of other health benefits, too.)

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You Suffer from High Blood Pressure

Calcium is part of our blood pressure regulation. Following the DASH diet can help ramp up calcium in our diet and regulate our blood pressure.

These foods can naturally help lower blood pressure.

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Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RDN
As a registered dietitian Wendy Jo touches on the science and facts behind food, but as a gardener and world traveler she savors the classical dishes our great-grandmothers once made. When she’s not in her kitchen, you can find her and her family exploring the US in their campervan, Olaf!