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Calcium - description and reference ranges

What is it?

Calcium is a mineral that is found in dairy products, some green, leafy vegetables such as kale, and anything made with fortified flour. The body uses calcium to maintain the health of the bones and teeth, to help muscles contract, to ensure that nerve impulses are conducted properly, and to maintain the heart rhythm. An adult needs about 700mg of calcium a day. Levels of calcium in your blood are primarily controlled by a hormone called parathyroid hormone that is produced by a gland in the neck. The kidneys are also involved in calcium metabolism and healthy calcium levels also rely on normal levels of magnesium and vitamin D.

Reference ranges

If your indicative Calcium level is lower than the reference range for our laboratory:

This is known as hypocalcemia. This may be due to having too little calcium in your diet or due to having low levels of magnesium (which also comes fom the diet) or vitamin D (which the body usually produces from exposure to sunlight).

Calcium levels may also be low if your body is making too little parathyroid hormone due to a problem with the parathyroid glands, or low calcium can result from kidney disease. Certain medications can also cause calcium levels to fall.

Low levels of calcium can cause cramps, muscle twitching, tingling sensations (particularly around the mouth), and palpitations.

We would suggest speaking to your GP about this result.

If your indicative Calcium level is higher than the reference range for our laboratory:

This is known as hypercalcemia. There are many causes of high calcium levels. One of the common causes is hyperparathyroidism when the body makes too much parathyroid hormone due to a problem with the parathyroid glands.

Other causes include dehydration, medications, infections, taking too much vitamin D, kidney problems and, occasionally, it may be a sign of cancer.

A high calcium level may cause no symptoms but it can cause thirst, confusion, abdominal pain and vomiting, or kidney stones.

Please discuss this result with your GP.

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