March 1, 2023

Telltale Signs That You’re Not Getting Enough Calcium

From fatigue to seizures, the symptoms of hypocalcemia can impact more than your bones

Calcium enriched foods.

Most of us learn that calcium is essential for bone health in school — but that’s not the whole story. According to rheumatologist Chad Deal, MD, “Our body needs calcium for other important functions as well, including those involving muscles, nerves, blood vessels and the release of hormones and enzymes.”


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

For that reason, a serious calcium deficiency can wreak havoc on your body in many different ways.

We talked to Dr. Deal about how much of this mighty mineral you should get in a day — and the symptoms you may experience if you develop a deficiency.

How much calcium should you consume per day?

According to Dr. Deal, a lot of us get all the calcium we need from the food we eat. Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) are plentiful sources. Other sources include:

Some foods, like soy milk and orange juice, are also often fortified with calcium.

Your recommended daily amount depends on your age and sex assigned at birth. All adults aged 19 to 50, and men up to age 70, should get 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day through their diet and (if necessary) supplements. Women 51 and older and men 71 and older need to take 1,200 mg of calcium a day.

Calcium deficiency

In the short term, most symptoms of calcium deficiency are subtle — so subtle, in fact, that you may not notice them at all. But if left unaddressed, those symptoms can worsen.

“Over time,” Dr. Deal explains, “low calcium intake can have detrimental effects on different body systems, including contributing to low bone mass and risk for osteoporosis.”

While it’s possible to get a blood test to determine your vitamin D level to see if you might be deficient, calcium levels in the blood are usually normal even when your calcium intake is low. That’s because your body will take calcium from your bones to supply what’s needed to function.


If you suspect you aren’t getting enough calcium from the food you eat, talk to your healthcare provider about taking a supplement.

“There is no need to exceed the recommended daily allowance for calcium,” Dr. Deal says. In fact, having too much calcium (hypercalcemia) can be dangerous, too.

It’s also worth noting that some people experience hypocalcemia because of a medical condition they have or prescriptions they take. In those cases, a supplement may not be enough to right the ship.

Calcium deficiency symptoms

The following symptoms may point to a calcium deficiency. Keep in mind that some of these symptoms occur only during an acute illness, when serum calcium levels drop to dangerous levels.


Fatigue” is a deceptively simple word for a symptom that is actually pretty complicated. As you’ll see, a lot of the other symptoms on this list fit could be attributed to fatigue, from body aches and stiffness to depressed mood. In the case of hypocalcemia, fatigue is the result of your cells being undernourished.

Poor oral health

You might have never given it a thought before, but, fun fact: Although your teeth are not bones, they are anchored in them! If your body is leeching calcium from your bones to stay functional, it’s going to make your teeth more susceptible to decay and loosening — and possibly even periodontal disease.

Muscle pain and spasms

Calcium doesn’t just make our bones strong: It also ensures our muscles function properly. Specifically, it helps our muscles contract and relax. Put differently, hypocalcemia will, quite literally, make you weaker. You’ll also experience more aches, pains, stiffness and spasms.

Cognitive issues

If your cells are being deprived of calcium, you can encounter a range of cognitive symptoms, from brain fog to dizziness and confusion. There’s even preliminary evidence to suggest that calcium intake affects our mental health.


Numbness and tingling in your fingers

Calcium plays a vital role in many different parts of our central nervous system; if we’re deficient, we may see those nerves impacted, particularly in our extremities (hands, fingers, feet and toes).


Nutritional deficiencies can sometimes trigger seizures.

Abnormal heart rhythm

If your heartbeat is starting to feel a bit … off, you need to have chat with your doctor as soon as possible. It could be a sign of a severe calcium deficiency.

Remember: Calcium is crucial to muscle function — and your heart is a muscle. There is a well-established connection between calcium dysregulation and ventricular arrhythmias, which can be serious — and potentially even deadly.

Regardless of calcium levels, you should go to the emergency room (ER) immediately if you’re experiencing chest pain (angina) along with other symptoms like shortness of breath, lightheadedness or fainting.

No bones about it

While some of the symptoms of calcium deficiency may be scary, there’s good news: The underlying condition is easy to treat! But before you go stalking the shelves of your local pharmacy for a supplement, make an appointment with a healthcare provider. They’ll be able to assess your risk for calcium deficiency and — if needed — determine what the safest dose is for you.

Related Articles

person reading a yogurt cup label
June 12, 2023
Calcium 101: Bone Up on Your Knowledge

This essential mineral is key to healthy bones and teeth, but also plays other important roles

Tamarind pods displayed on brown plate on a wooden table, with one pod torn open showing fruit inside.
May 8, 2023
Why Tamarind Just Might Be Your New Favorite Fruit

With a sweet, tangy flavor, tamarind is super versatile and high in antioxidants

woman eating yogurt with other sources of calcium floating in back
March 20, 2023
Are You Taking Too Many Calcium Supplements?

You want to get enough but avoid hypercalcemia — and protect your heart

Variety of cheese.
January 3, 2023
Is Cheese Good for You?

Moderation is key: A good source of calcium and protein, but it’s also high in calories and sodium

adult drinking milk
January 13, 2021
Can Drinking Too Much Milk Make Your Bones More Brittle?

High milk consumption linked to higher mortality, hip fractures

child sitting in grass eating yogurt
February 6, 2020
What To Do When Your Child Won’t Drink Milk

How to help your child build healthy bones

Hand holding an artichoke over a basket of artichokes
February 23, 2024
10 Health Benefits of Artichokes

This unique-looking veggie is fiber-dense and antioxidant-rich, and can improve the health of your gut, liver and heart

Person in bikini at beach with hip area accented showing hip dips
February 22, 2024
Your ‘Hip Dips’ Are Normal — And They Aren’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon

Your bone structure determines whether you have a visible dent between your hips and your thighs

Trending Topics

close up of keto gummies
Do Keto Gummies Work for Weight Loss? Are They Safe?

Research is inconclusive whether or not these supplements are helpful

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

Older person postioned sideways showing dowager hump.
Dowager’s Hump: What It Is and How To Get Rid of It

The hump at the base of your neck may be caused by osteoporosis or poor posture