Calcium helps our blood clot, our nerves send messages, our muscles contract, and it also regulates our blood pressure. So if you don’t get the recommended amount—1,000 milligrams a day for women in their twenties and thirties—anything related to these functions can go off-kilter.
Women may notice very subtle signs of sub-par consumption. If you answer yes to any of the Qs below, consider having your M.D. check your levels with a blood test.
- Do you feel being frequently yanked out of sleep?
Calcium is an electrolyte—a nutrient that carries electrical impulses to the muscles. Having too little of it can make nerve endings (and the muscles they stimulate) trigger-happy, so they’re more likely to spasm. Stretching your calves, hamstrings, and quads before bed can help.
2. Do You Get Cavities?
A whopping 99 percent of your body’s calcium stores are in your bones and teeth, according to the National Institute Of Health. When you’re not getting enough of the mineral in your diet, your body leeches it from these areas, which can up your risk for tooth decay and cavities.
3. Are Your Nails Constantly Peeling?
Nails, like bones and teeth, need enough calcium to grow strong and healthy. If your manicure isn’t looking so pretty, it could be a sign that you’re not eating enough nutrient-rich foods. Food is the best source of calcium. If you’re falling short, load up on dairy (milk, yogurt and cheese are high in calcium), green vegetables like spinach and kale, and fortified foods. Some juices, breakfast foods, soy milk—just be sure to shake the container well since calcium can settle to the bottom—cereals, snacks, and breads all have calcium, too, and can be solid options.