What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Calcium and Vitamin D?

Medically Reviewed on 3/29/2022
What happens if you don't get enough calcium and vitamin D
Vitamin D and calcium deficiency can lead to the following medical conditions and issues.

Vitamin D and calcium are extremely essential to keep the bones, joints, muscles, and heart strong, healthy, and working.

A vitamin D level of 20 to 50 ng/mL is considered normal for healthy people, whereas a level less than 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to the following:

  • Osteoporosis (a bone-weakening disease due to loss of bone density)
  • Bone pain and muscle weakness
  • Increased risk of fractures (broken bones)
  • Rickets in children (a disease characterized by compromised calcification, softening, and distortion of the bones, resulting in various signs such as bowlegs)
  • Osteomalacia in adults (soft and weak bones)
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Cognitive impairment

A normal calcium level for adults ranges from 8.8 to 10.4 mg/dL, whereas a level less than 8.8 mg/dL indicates calcium deficiency.

Calcium deficiency can lead to the following:

What is the recommended daily amount of calcium and vitamin D?

Vitamin D and calcium requirements vary as per age and gender.

According to the Institute of Medicine recommendations, the normal vitamin D requirement is as follows:

Table 1. Normal vitamin D requirements by age
Age Recommended vitamin D intake (international units [IU] a day)
Birth to 12 months 400
Children (1 to 13 years) 600
Teens (14 to 18 years) 600
Adults (19 to 70 years) 600
Adults (71 years and older) 800
Pregnant and breastfeeding women 600

Normal calcium requirements depending on age and sex include:

Table 2. Normal calcium requirements by age and sex
Age Recommended calcium intake (milligrams a day)
1 to 3 years 700
4 to 8 years 1,000
9 to 18 years 1,300
19 to 50 years 1,000
Men who are 51 to 70 years 1,000
Women who are 51 to 70 years 1,200
71 years and older 1,200
Pregnant/breastfeeding women 1,000


Next to red peppers, you can get the most vitamin C from ________________. See Answer

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for the body to absorb calcium (a building block of the bones and joints) and for the proper functioning of the nerves, muscle, and immune system.

Three primary sources of vitamin D include:

  1. Through the skin: An inextinguishable source of vitamin D is sunlight. The body produces vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight.
  2. Through the diet:
    • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and shrimp
    • Fish and cod liver oils
    • Foods such as egg yolks, mushrooms, cheese, and beef liver
    • Vitamin D-fortified foods such as milk, some cereals, yogurts, and orange juice
  3. Supplements and multivitamins: Available as ergocalciferol (D2) and cholecalciferol (D3).

Who is at a risk of vitamin D deficiency?

People at risk of vitamin D deficiency include:

How do you get calcium?

Calcium is one of the building blocks of bones, joints, and teeth. Vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium. Hence, whenever calcium supplements are given, vitamin D supplements are also generally prescribed.

Calcium is used by the body to:

  • Help in the proper functioning of the muscles and blood vessels.
  • Help in the release of certain hormones and enzymes.
  • Carry out messages by the nerves throughout the body.
  • Help in the proper functioning of the heart.
  • Help in blood clotting.

Sources of calcium include:

  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach, and Chinese cabbage
  • Animal-based sources of calcium include fish with soft bones, such as sardines and salmon
  • Calcium-fortified (added calcium) foods such as orange juice, cereals, soy drinks, and tofu
  • Calcium supplements—calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, both of these types are available without a prescription

Who is at a risk of calcium deficiency?

People at risk of calcium deficiency include:

Can taking too much calcium and vitamin D be harmful?

Unfortunately, getting more calcium and vitamin D than the body needs or advised daily recommendations can cause adverse effects such as the following.

Effects of too much calcium include:

Effects of too much vitamin D include:

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Medically Reviewed on 3/29/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Amanda Gardner Do You Get Enough Vitamin D and Calcium WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/features/are-you-getting-enough-vitamin-d-calcium

Vitamin D Deficiency MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/vitaminddeficiency.html

Getting Enough Calcium and Vitamin D PeaceHealth: https://www.peacehealth.org/medical-topics/id/za1487

Calcium: What You Need to Know American Academy of Family Physicians: https://familydoctor.org/calcium-what-you-need-to-know/