Calcium is often not discussed on a ketogenic diet, but it is an electrolyte and I’d like to discuss it here. It has many important roles:
- It is essential to the conduction of electricity in your body.
- It is necessary for your nervous system to function normally.
- Your muscles cannot move without sufficient levels of calcium.
- Your teeth and bones need calcium to stay strong and healthy.
If your dietary intake of calcium is adequate, but you still record low calcium levels or don’t seem to be absorbing it there can be a number of causes including:
- Being low in magnesium, phosphate, or Vitamin D
- Low parathyroid hormone (PTH)
- Some medications
- Stress and anxiety
- Intense exercise
- Kidney disease
- Diarrhea, constipation, or other gastrointestinal disorders that prevent your body from absorbing calcium properly
What are some acute symptoms of low calcium?
Some people don’t have any symptoms or signs of being low in circulating calcium. Signs of being low include:
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscle spasms or cramps
- Feelings of pins and needles in the arms and legs
- Anxiety, depression, or irritability
- Memory problems
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty with speaking or swallowing
Long term, symptoms of low calcium can look like the following:
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
- Kidney stones or other calcium deposits in the body
I prefer a “food first” approach rather than synthetic supplements when it comes to calcium intake in relation to absorption, cost, and efficacy. Most people know that dairy products are rich in calcium, but bone broth and eggshells are also great bioavailable sources especially for those who don’t tolerate dairy products especially well.
If you make your own bone broth, you can toss some eggshells in there while it cooks – they disintegrate into the broth giving it a bit more calcium.
Or you can collect your washed eggshells in the fridge, then roast them in a hot oven for about 10 minutes to remove any nasties. Use a food processor to grind them into a powder, and store the powder in a jar in the fridge. Half a teaspoon of ground eggshells will provide about 900mg of calcium.