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Stress and Its Relationship With Calcium Imbalance

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During stress, the diet cannot replace enough calcium. This may lead to porous bones.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Arpit Varshney

Published At December 28, 2023
Reviewed AtDecember 28, 2023

Introduction:

Stress is a natural response to challenging situations in day-to-day life. Every person faces stress every day in some form. Individual responses vary from one person to another. Calcium is an important mineral required by the body for various processes. Calcium is taken through diet, and hormones also regulate it.

What Is Stress?

Everyone in life will face stress. A little stress is fine, but too much stress may affect both the mind and the body. It is a normally occurring phenomenon in a difficult situation. Stress can have positive effects and keep an individual motivated. If the situation continues, then it becomes a problem.

What Is a Calcium Imbalance?

Calcium is an important mineral related to bones and teeth. Some other functions of the body are blood clotting, muscle contraction, and the regulation of heart rhythm. Our bones contain 99 percent of calcium, and only one percent of calcium is found in the blood, muscle, and other tissues.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is as follows for calcium among

  • Women of age 19-50 years - 1000 mg daily.

  • Women of age 51 and above - 1200 mg daily.

  • Pregnant and lactating women - 1000 mg daily.

  • Men 19-70 years - 1000 mg.

  • Men above 71 years - 1200 mg.

Calcium is essential to performing various functions in the body. Calcium is essential to the actions of muscles and nerves.

The body keeps the required amount of calcium in the blood and tissues. When the blood calcium level is lowered, the parathyroid hormone (PTH) signals the bone to release calcium into the blood. PTH helps in the absorption of calcium in the intestine by activating vitamin D. PTH also provides a signal to the kidney to release less calcium through urine.

Another hormone called calcitonin also plays a role in maintaining calcium levels in the blood. When the body has sufficient calcium, it reduces calcium release from bones and sends a signal to the kidney to release more calcium through the urine.

The body gets calcium from food and supplements that contain calcium or through the bones that contain calcium.

Foods that contain calcium are dairy products, fruits, vegetables, green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, etc. When calcium is not taken through food and supplements, the body uses calcium in the bones to maintain calcium homeostasis.

When there is a variation in calcium levels in the body, it is called a calcium imbalance. Serum calcium levels in a healthy individual are 8.8 - 10.4 mg/dL.

A variation in calcium levels may cause either hypocalcemia (low calcium levels in the blood) or hypercalcemia (high calcium levels in the blood).

Levels of calcium are affected by

The parathyroid hormone helps regulate calcium levels in the blood. Studies have found a link between parathyroid diseases and mental well-being.

When there is increased secretion of parathyroid hormones in the body, it cannot manage calcium levels properly. This results in increased levels of calcium in the body, affecting the nervous system's function. Individuals affected by this condition face many mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and forgetfulness.

One of the findings of the research is that there is an association between increased parathyroid levels and depression. Because of the increase in the levels of parathyroids, there was also an elevation of calcium levels. This, in turn, was related to the cause of depression.

The research has found a relationship between anxiety and hypercalcemia. Calcium, despite having many functions in the body, plays a role in signal transduction pathways. It also plays a role in the stress signaling pathway. In this pathway, calcium ions (Ca2+) act as sensors and responders and as proteins in the influx and efflux of calcium.

Research has stated that PTH is a stress hormone. Its involvement is experienced in stress responses. According to a researcher, PTH is part of a defensive mechanism against stress. He addressed that PTH action will occur almost an hour after the stressful situation.

When there is a slight increase in PTH, there is a mild increase in calcium levels. This, in turn, increases stress responses like muscle contraction and neuron activity. PTH affects other responses to stress, like blood clotting, enzyme activity, insulin output, and other hormone-target reactions.

A hormone called cortisol is released whenever there is stress in the body. This destroys the body. The system releases calcium from bones and teeth to bring the body back into balance. The released calcium helps normalize the pH created by cortisol and brings the body back to a neutral state.

Eating patterns may change during stress, the sleep cycle may be disturbed, and exercises may be skipped. This may affect the body's systems, including the bones, which are calcium reservoirs. Stress may deplete the calcium in the body. Hence, calcium plays a role in stress.

How to Diagnose and Treat Stress and Its Effects on Calcium Levels?

Diagnosis can be done by

  • Blood Test: They are also checked for serum calcium and phosphorus levels.
  • PTH Test: If calcium and phosphorous levels are abnormal, test for PTH levels in the blood. This test is done to determine whether a calcium imbalance is the cause of hyperparathyroidism. This also helps assess whether the patient is coping with a vitamin D deficiency.
  • Localization Studies: These are done to know whether parathyroid glands are abnormal or the location of malfunctioning glands. These include ultrasound imaging, sestamibi scans, and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging.

Treatments Depend on the Exact Cause of the Situation

  • If defective parathyroid glands are found, surgery may be required, which helps bring the calcium levels back to normal.

  • Exercise may help reduce stress.

  • Meditation helps reduce stress.

  • Lifestyle changes like having a balanced diet, having good sleep habits, exercising regularly, and getting vitamin D from sunlight help reduce stress and regulate calcium levels.

Conclusion:

Stress is a part of life. If it remains for long, it may result in many problems, including affecting calcium levels in the body. Hence, it is important to know about stress, how it is related to calcium levels in the blood, and its management. Knowing this helps an individual to seek help from a healthcare provider early. Early diagnosis helps in getting effective treatment. This, in turn, helps achieve a good quality of life.

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Dr. Arpit Varshney
Dr. Arpit Varshney

General Medicine

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