Managing Low Calcium Levels: Supplements vs. Natural Remedies

Managing Low Calcium Levels: Supplements vs. Natural Remedies

Low calcium, also medically called hypocalcemia, can be serious since the human body needs an adequate amount of calcium to function normally. Hypocalcemia is actually an electrolyte imbalance in the body that causes lower than normal levels of calcium to occur. Since calcium is essential to healthy teeth, bones and nerve and muscle function, hypocalcemia should not go untreated.

Causes of Hypocalcemia

Causes of low blood calcium may include:

  • alcoholism
  • vitamin D or magnesium deficiencies that reduce calcium metabolizing
  • chronic renal failure
  • excessive caffeine that affects calcium absorption
  • blood diseases like leukemia
  • chemotherapy treatment
  • some medications and diuretics

Treatment Options for Low Calcium Levels

Depending upon the severity of your calcium deficiency and the symptoms, you can choose either a natural remedy or opt for supplement treatment. Supplemental treatment typically includes both vitamin D and calcium supplements. Natural remedies for hypocalcemia typically include a concerted effort to increase the high calcium foods and beverages you consume each day, as well as increasing the foods that provide the vitamin D and magnesium necessary for proper calcium absorption.

Pros of Natural Remedies for Low Calcium

The benefits of natural remedies include:

  • Better overall body health - a diet high in calcium and low in fat can contribute to a higher level of overall body health
  • No side effects - your body is efficient at recognizing dietary nutrients and metabolizing them for proper use.
  • Lower costs - when compared to the cost of medications and supplements, fresh, high-calcium foods are less expensive than purchasing supplements or medications.
  • Convenience - you can restock each week during your normal grocery-store trip instead of having to make a separate trip for supplements.   

If choosing a natural remedy, you may want to consider consulting a nutritionist or dietitian to work with you on meal-planning strategies that effective incorporate the necessary amounts of calcium, vitamin D and magnesium you need.

Cons of Natural Remedies for Low Calcium

  • Getting the right amount, when you need it. If your hypocalcemia is not severe or is caused by a lack of calcium in your diet, dietary management is possible. But if your condition if severe or is due to an illness or medication, dietary management may not offer a high enough amount of calcium intervention, at the specific times it's needed for effective treatment.
  • Getting complimentary nutrients for absorption and retention. Adequate vitamin D and magnesium are essential for proper calcium absorption. Trying to balance daily intake of all 3 nutrients can get complicated.

Pros of Supplement Treatment for Low Calcium

  • Amount accuracy-supplements allow you to regulate how much you get by how much you need.
  • Instant results-supplements get the amount needed into your body all at once.
  • No guesswork-estimating calcium levels in food can be very inaccurate while supplements are predetermined.
  • Easy level maintenance-once you achieve the correct calcium level it's easy to maintain with less testing.

Cons of Supplement Treatment for Low Calcium

  • Hypercalcemia-you can develop too much calcium in the blood.
  • Medication interactions-some new medications you take may interfere with your absorption or retention requiring possible testing and dosage adjustments with each new medication.

If your low calcium symptoms are minor, like: muscle twitching, irritability, occasional muscle cramps or constipation, natural remedies may be sufficient treatment. However, if you experience depression, severe nausea, confusion or disorientation, consult a physician immediately.