Vitamins and minerals play very important roles in the body. There are some minerals that are available in abundance in the body and some that are scarcely available and need supplements to supply them for bodily functions. One mineral that is most important for the growth, development and maintenance of the teeth and bones, is calcium. Also, it is the most abundantly found mineral in the body. Calcium is also needed to maintain the health of the muscles, nerves and also the heart.
However, for every vitamin and mineral there is a certain amount in which it is required in the body to function properly. Too less of these minerals or vitamins can lead to a number of physical and other troubles; so can do too much of it. While decrease in calcium levels in the body would lead to nerve damage, weakening of bones and heart arrhythmias, an increase in the calcium content in the blood would also cause formation of calcium crystals in the arteries, stones in the kidneys and also pain in different parts of the body.
Significant cause behind hypercalcemia is certain medicines. There are some medicines that may increase the level of calcium in blood. When you take these medicines, be careful about their dosage.
Increased Levels of Calcium or Hypercalcemia
The condition, in which the calcium level in your blood is increased than the normal range, is called hypercalcemia and this condition has a number of side effects, some of which are already mentioned. The normal calcium level in the blood is between 8.5 and 10.2 milligrams per decilitre. Anything above this is considered to be hypercalcemia.
What is more important about this condition is to know about its causes.
Parathyroid Glands: The most common reason behind hypercalcemia is the over-activity of parathyroid glands. The parathyroid glands are the four tiny glands that are located right behind your thyroid glands. When due to some reasons these glands become overactive, they can produce more parathyroid hormone (PTH) and it is this hormone that increases the level of calcium in the blood. The PTH does this by taking calcium out of the bones and this causes a lot of health problems. The increased calcium may harm different other internal organs, including the arteries, where it might form calcium crystals.
Increased Calcium Levels through Food Intake: The body cannot produce calcium. It receives calcium from the foods and drinks that we consume every day. There are many foods that are rich in calcium such as dairy products, tofu, fruit juices, certain types of fish like sardines and salmon and also most of the leafy vegetables. On an average the body requires 1000 to 1300 mg of calcium intake every day, through food. However, here it must be mentioned that intake of calcium does not mean absorption of it. It requires vitamin D, which is mostly produced in the body through exposure in the sun or vitamin D supplements, to absorb the calcium that is consumed, to be absorbed. It is the amount of calcium that is absorbed into the body that matters and not the amount that is drained out even after the intake.
When the body’s calcium intake is about 2500 mg to 3000 mg, it can be troublesome for the body. There can be multiple health troubles caused by hypercalcemia.
Medications that Increase the Level of Calcium in Blood
Thyroxine Hormonal Medicines: Medicines that contain thyroxine hormone and are used for treating hypothyroidism, is a medicine that causes hypercalcemia. These medicines do so by increasing the secretion of parathyroid hormones that increase the calcium levels in blood and by taking out calcium from the bones.
Medicines that contain Lithium: Lithium containing drugs are often used to treat bipolar disorder. These drugs can also affect the release of parathyroid hormones and thereby, increase calcium levels in blood.
Thiazide Diuretics can Increase Level of Calcium in Blood: These medicines are used to treat high blood pressure. They too increase the secretion of parathyroid hormones and cause hypercalcemia.
Antacids: The usual antacids can also increase the level of calcium in blood, when you take antacids too frequently.
Vitamin D Supplements can Lead to Increase in Calcium Level in Blood: One of the most common causes of high calcium level in the blood is the excessive intake of vitamin D supplements. Though this is not a medicine in the traditional sense, it needs to be mentioned here as most people unknowingly increase their vitamin D supplement dosage for maximizing its benefits. However, the results are contradictory as too much of vitamin D supplement intake will lead to excessive calcium absorption in the intestines and this can lead to hypercalcemia.
So, if you are on any of these medicines, mention them to your doctor if your blood test results show an increased level of calcium in the blood. Also, do not reduce the dosage or stop taking these medicines altogether without consulting them with the doctor as that might affect your other health conditions. However, if you are taking excessive of vitamin D supplements and your blood calcium levels are too high, stop taking them at once.
Here it must also be mentioned that though thiazide medicines are blamed for an increased blood calcium level, it is almost never or rarely the case. In reality, most of the time it is a problem of the parathyroid glands and its secretions and doctors mistake it to be the medicine and this only delays the treatment. Whatever the case may be, be careful with your blood calcium levels as they can cause serious health troubles.