Calcium

Calcium is a very important element in the human body. It is absolutely vital for the functioning of muscles, nerves and the heart and is required in blood clotting and in the formation of bones.

99% of the calcium in the body is stored in bones.

Low levels may indicate : 

  • Underactive parathyroid gland (hypoparathyroidism)
  • Inherited resistance to the effects of parathyroid hormone – a rare genetic disorder
  • Extreme deficiency in dietary calcium
  • Decreased levels of vitamin D – this is very common
  • Magnesium deficiency may cause calcium deficiency as these two elements are working together
  • Increased levels of phosphate – there is a reversed interrelation between phosphate and calcium
  • Acute inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Renal failure
  • Malnutrition
  • Alcoholism

 

High levels may indicate:

  • Hyperparathyroidism is an increase in parathyroid gland production. This condition is usually caused by a benign tumour of the parathyroid gland. Benign tumours are not cancers. This form of hypercalcaemia is usually mild and can be present for many years before being noticed. 
  • Cancer: can cause hypercalcaemia when it spreads to the bones, which releases calcium into the blood, or when cancer produces a hormone similar to PTH, resulting in increased calcium levels.
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Tuberculosis – now a rare infectious disease
  • Prolonged immobilisation – the patient is bedridden
  • Excess vitamin D intake – an overdose of Vitamin D supplement
  • Kidney transplant

Testing calcium is very informative. Interrelation between calcium and other chemical elements in the body makes it a very important marker of various disorders. This test is part of several panels.

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