Calcium

Calcium is one of the most abundant and important minerals in the body.  It is essential for cell signalling and the proper functioning of nerves, muscles and the heart. A calcium test measures the amount of calcium in the blood. Only 1% of calcium is found in the blood, and this test is not used to check dietary calcium sufficiency.

Unless this is ordered as a retest or for a specific reason, we recommend ordering this as part of a health test.

Why test calcium?

Health check
Discover your risk factors for lifestyle diseases in time to do something about them. 

Symptoms
When you have symptoms of a disorder affecting the kidneys, bones, thyroid, parathyroid or nerves or when you have symptoms of increased or decreased calcium.

Monitoring
Monitor changes to your blood values as you make lifestyle changes or undergo treatments.

What do the results mean?

Blood calcium test results do not indicate levels of bone calcium.  Blood calcium test results indicate how much calcium is circulating in the blood.  A normal total or ionised calcium result together with other normal laboratory results generally means that a person's calcium metabolism is normal and blood levels are being appropriately regulated.

What causes low calcium?

The most common cause is low blood protein levels, particularly low albumin. This can result from liver disease or malnutrition and may be caused by alcoholism, eating disorders, and other conditions. Hypoparathyroidism, decreased levels of vitamin D, low stomach acid levels, magnesium deficiency, pancreatitis, and extreme deficiency in dietary calcium can cause low calcium levels.

What causes high calcium?

Hyperparathyroidism, underactive thyroid, and cancer can all increase calcium levels in the blood.  Other causes include TB, sarcoidosis, excess vitamin D, the use of certain medications and infections.  Some medications like thiazide diuretic drugs, lithium, and tamoxifen can increase calcium in the blood.

More information

Blood and urine calcium measurements cannot tell how much calcium is in the bones. Another test called a bone density or "Dexa" scan is used to test this.

Values that are slightly outside the reference range can be normal. Reference ranges are not perfect and approximately 5% of healthy individuals may have results outside the reference range.

Instructions
No advance preparation is needed for this test.

On the day of the test
Remember to take I.D. with you when going to take a test. Arrive early and sit down quietly for 15 minutes before the test is taken.

 

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