What happens when serum calcium level drops?

Calcium is an important element which is required for the normal sustenance of life. Our body requires calcium in an optimum quantity. Normal blood calcium levels vary from 9 to 11 mg/dl. The condition in which there is a decrease in calcium levels is called Hypocalcemia. Mild decrease in calcium levels usually does not cause any harm to an individual and can be easy, smoothly brought back to normal. But if there is a severe decrease in calcium levels, it leads to many health hazards.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council/ National Academy of Sciences recommends the following Dietary Allowance of calcium per day for maintaining good health −

Adults - 1000 mg/dl.

Old age/pregnancy/lactation - 1200 mg/dl.

The drop in Serum Calcium level may be caused due to the following reasons −

  • Poor Calcium Intake − When one does not take in a calcium-rich diet like milk, yogurt etc.

  • Malnutrition − Due to lifestyle or any renal disorders causing calcium loss.

  • Hypoparathyroidism − Parathyroid hormone (PTH) is responsible for increasing calcium levels in our body by bone resorption. In the case of hypoparathyroidism, PTH secretion is decreased leading to decreased blood calcium levels.

  • Renal Disorders − Causing decreased absorption.

  • Vitamin D Deficiency − causing decreased intestinal calcium absorption.

  • Menopause − common in menopausal women due to decreased estrogen levels.

  • Pancreatitis, hypomagnesemia

  • Certain drugs like anti convulsant, calcitonin and corticosteroids etc.

  • Calcium levels may drop due to certain Genetic Disorders.


TETANY − It is a condition which is characterized by involuntary contraction of muscles due to calcium deficiency. It occurs when blood calcium level is less than 8 mg/dl. This is because when calcium ions are low, the permeability of neuronal plasma membrane to sodium ions is increased causing continuous depolarisation of its membrane leading to release of many action potentials.

  • Calcium inadequacies can influence all parts of the body, leading to feeble nails, slow hair development, and dry, delicate, thin and scaly skin.

  • It is an essential part in both neurotransmitter discharge and muscle contractions. In this way, calcium inadequacies can show seizures in normal individuals.

  • Hypocalcemia can influence the mind and cause neurologic or psychologic side effects, for example, perplexity, memory loss, acute confusional state, dejection, and hallucinations. These indications vanish if the calcium level is brought back to normal.

  • When calcium level is too low it may cause tingling sensation which is commonly seen in lips, tongue, fingers, and feet, muscle pains, fits of the muscles in the throat causing trouble during breathing, stiffening and fits of muscles and irregular heart rhythms.


  • Intake of calcium or vitamin D rich diet like milk, yogurt, fatty fish like salmon etc.

  • Consuming calcium supplements like calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate etc.

  • Calcium is given intravenously in acute cases.

Updated on: 06-May-2022


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