Nutritional deficiency is a common side effect of gluten sensitivity. Often times patients going on the diet fail to improve because of long term vitamin and mineral deficiencies caused by years of food induced gastrointestinal damage. The problem with this phenomenon is that many patients go gluten free and still continue to have health issues yet their doctor fails to properly evaluate and monitor nutritional status. Calcium deficiency is one of these more common nutritional deficiencies.

Causes and Consequences of Calcium Deficiency

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Low Calcium Levels Contribute to Disease

There are many medical conditions linked to calcium deficiency. The following lists some of the more common symptoms and side effects:

  • Early bone loss (osteopenia)
  • Muscle spasms and cramps (especially night time calf cramping)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • High Blood pressure
  • Hormone abnormalities
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Gum disease
  • Headaches

The above problems are often times medicated before a doctor performs the proper nutritional evaluation. Keep in mind that serum calcium levels are not an accurate representation of calcium stores within the body.

Too Much Calcium Can Also Be a Problem

Calcium is a very commonly used nutritional supplement. Many doctors instruct their female patients to take calcium as a preventative for bone loss. Without monitoring and checking calcium, taking too much can contribute to many problems. Therefore; it is not recommended to take excessive calcium without need. Some symptoms of too much calcium include:

  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Magnesium and iron loss
  • Heart Arrhythmia
  • Kidney damage

Drugs That Interfere with Calcium

There are a number of prescription medications that can interfere with calcium absorption or metabolism. It is not the single or short term use of medication that one has to worry about, but taking some of the following medications long term (6 months or greater) can interfere with this mineral. Examples include:

  • Corticosteroids – these are commonly used for control of pain and inflammation. Some steroids are used to treat chronic fatigue, chronic muscle pain, and inflammatory joint pain. Additionally, some steroids are used in the treatment of asthma.
  • Antacid medications – these drugs are commonly used to treat gastric reflux, heartburn, and indigestion. Examples include Nexium, Tagamet, Tums, and Rolaids. These prescription and over the counter medications suppress and interfere with stomach acid production. Calcium requires acid to be absorbed properly. Sometimes people take Tums with calcium to as a calcium supplement. I have had patients whose doctors actually recommended this! Bad advice – Don’t take antacids for a source of dietary calcium.

Foods High In Calcium

Despite popular belief, milk and dairy products are not a necessity for calcium in the diet. Foods rich in calcium are kale, broccoli, turnip greens, mustard greens, collards, figs, salmon, sardines, arugula, spinach, kelp, bone marrow and broth, and citrus fruits.

High Quality Gluten Free Calcium

When you have the need for calcium supplementation, you have to be careful not to take excessive calcium without magnesium, because doing so can contribute to magnesium deficiency. Additionally, it is important to ensure that your vitamin D levels are normal as calcium absorption is low when vitamin D is deficient. Many supplements have been found to contain gluten cross contamination, so if you are looking for a high quality blend of calcium that is TRUE gluten free, go here <<<

All the best,

Dr. O

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