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Calcium & Seizures

by
author image Ruben J. Nazario
Ruben J. Nazario has been a medical writer and editor since 2007. His work has appeared in national print and online publications. Nazario is a graduate of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and is board-certified in pediatrics. He also has a Master of Arts in liberal studies from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Calcium & Seizures
Dairy products are an important source of dietary calcium. Photo Credit nathaphat/iStock/Getty Images

Calcium is an important element in the body. According to MedlinePlus, you have more calcium in your body than any other mineral. Calcium is an integral part of bone formation, development and repair. The majority of calcium in the body is stored within bones, while the rest is in the bloodstream and the body’s other fluids. Abnormalities in the body’s calcium level can result in significant health problems. Both hypocalcemia, or low calcium levels, and hypercalcemia, or high calcium levels, can cause seizures.

Sources of Calcium

The main sources of calcium are dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and ice cream. Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and kale, canned sardines and shellfish, are also good sources of calcium. More importantly, vitamin D is an integral component for the absorption of calcium from the gastrointestinal tract. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin as a result of exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency can cause a decrease in the level of calcium in the body, which can cause seizures.

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Causes of Calcium Abnormalities

Apart from vitamin D deficiency, there are other causes of hypocalcemia. According to the Cleveland Clinic, low calcium is caused by either excessive loss of calcium or insufficient calcium in the bloodstream. For example, absence of parathyroid hormone, which helps maintain the appropriate level of calcium in the blood, can cause hypocalcemia. Hypercalcemia, or high calcium, can be caused by over activity of the parathyroid gland, tumors and kidney failure.

Seizures

Hypocalcemia can cause tetany and seizures. When tetany occurs, muscles contract involuntarily in a painful way. According to Epilepsy.com, hypocalcemic seizures can resemble tetany, or can cause generalized tonic-clonic seizures, with whole body shaking and loss of consciousness; focal muscle seizures, during which a set of muscles contract involuntarily; and absence seizures, during which a person appears to be staring of into space. Although known to occur, hypercalcemic seizures are rare.

Treatment

The initial treatment of seizures involves the maintenance of an open airway and support of breathing and blood circulation. Anticonvulsants can be administered to acutely stop the seizures. Correction of calcium to appropriate levels can be done with slow intravenous supplementation, until the person can take oral supplements. Vitamin D supplements may also be necessary.

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References

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