As a person gets older, calcium becomes of the most essential nutrients to achieve healthy bones. More so, avoiding muscle weakness linked to aging is as important, too. Osteoporosis or ‘porous bone,’ as it literally means, is a typical and more often than not, preventable condition from which one’s quality of bones, as well as their density, are reduced. This particular occurrence is frequently associated with calcium deficiency in seniors.
Calcium deficiency happens gradually. Also, it sometimes takes place without any symptoms recognized and felt until a single bone fracture or break occurs. Muscle weakness takes place along fatigue, associated frailty, and reduced capability of tolerating activities. If there is a calcium deficiency, there may be an occurrence of joint problems. Then, such problems range from mild stiffness to osteoarthritis or debilitating arthritis.
Importance of Calcium
While calcium deficiency in seniors is not happening yet, it is better to start thinking of ways to prevent it. One way is to ensure the bone’s health. But before you learn further about calcium deficiency in seniors, it is better to be more familiar first, with the importance and functions of calcium in your body.
Indeed, calcium is the richest stored nutrient in every human body. Relatively, the teeth and bones store more than 99% of calcium. Less than 1%, on the other hand, is stored in extracellular serum calcium. When an adult consumes calcium as a supplement or food, his average rate for absorption is roughly 30%.
There is a distribution of calcium in several tissue compartments in the human body. In connection to this, the pool of calcium’s total serum which is approximately 1,200 mg to 1400 mg, is quite so small. Meaning, the extracellular pool keeps the level of the plasma calcium in tight control at a steady serum level. The said level is typically at around 8.4 to 9.5 mg/dL utilizing a complex team of hormones, as well as the other substances.
One example of tight control of the metabolic mechanism system in a person’s body is the normal serum glucose range’s maintenance in non-diabetics. Relatively, serum calcium does not vary with changes in an individual’s dietary intake. Also, the smallest drop in which serum calcium has, lower than the normal level is set to trigger an urgent response. Consequently, the body gets is ready for the transfer of calcium from the other sources to retain levels of normal serum calcium.
Preventing Calcium Deficiency in Seniors Using the 3 Organ Systems
Moreover, as a result, the body is ready to prevent hypocalcemia typically within minutes of use of one of the 3 organ systems. These 3 organ systems include the intestines, the bone, and the kidney. Among the 3, the kidney is the fundamental mechanism for the fast absorption or release of calcium through urine excretion and filtration functions. In addition, adults usually excrete roughly 200 mg each day through their kidneys via urine. However, it varies by both the serum and diet parameters. The recommended daily intake of 1,000 mg of calcium potentially results in about 800 mg available for the requirements of tissue nutrient and 200 mg for the serum calcium levels’ maintenance.
Functions Calcium and Complications of Calcium Deficiency
The whole body uses calcium in small amounts. Studies have confirmed that this nutrient plays a vital part in functions such as vasodilation, vascular contraction, nerve transmission, hormonal secretion, and intracellular signaling. Each of these functions comprises a separate evaluation in itself. However, they, as a group illustrate how important calcium is in every human body.
Any change in serum calcium impacts one or more of the functions above. For instance, a report Medical News Today posted on its website, indicated that has been associated with a higher risk of seizures because of its connection to nerve intracellular signaling and transmission.
Calcium deficiency in seniors is not an unusual condition. Almost every individual who’s getting much older gets to experience this. More so it happens fast that sometimes, it is already difficult to address. Below are some of the complications of calcium deficiency in seniors (and even non-seniors) has been linked to:
- Higher fracture risk
- Chronic muscle and joint pain
- Dental Problems
- Various Skin Diseases
In relation to the said complications, a study has it that around 1,038 people went through confinement for critical care. Out of these over 1000 patients, 55.2% were hypocalcemic, not to mention, 6.2% of them, having a severe deficiency.
Treatment and prevention of Calcium Deficiency in Seniors
Certainly, the most effective, easiest, and safest way of managing and preventing calcium deficiency in older people is by improving their dietary calcium intake. More so, they can add vitamin D supplements to their everyday intake of meds and vitamins. However, before doing so, since the ones to do this are the elderly people, it is important to seek advice from the doctor first. He is the only one who can knowledgeably determine if a senior has Vitamin D deficiency.
The doctor can also tell which foods, beverages, and other approaches can help prevent fractures, and reduce the risk of kidney stones. Aside from consulting with the doctor, you may also consider these calcium-rich food sources to avoid calcium deficiency especially among seniors:
- Dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Soy milk
- Fortified Cereals
- Seeds and nuts including sesame seeds and almonds
As mentioned, it is important to note that it is never a good idea to begin taking calcium supplements without prior consultation with a doctor. Taking too much calcium may increase the risk of various diseases, particularly in older adults. These are risks for kidney stones, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic heart conditions.