What Are Considered Normal Calcium Levels

As we age, our doctors sometimes order a total calcium blood test to see if we have normal calcium levels in our blood. Calcium is the mineral present in your body responsible for healthy muscle contractions, strong teeth and bones, blood vessels which properly widen and narrow and more functions. Other times you may need to take a total calcium blood test include physical examinations for jobs and as part of a diagnosis for a medical condition, like kidney failure or certain types of cancer.

Approximately one percent of your body's calcium is stored in your blood, and there are two types:  free calcium and bound calcium. Today we will discuss what a total calcium blood test is, when you need one, what the results mean and what normal calcium levels are.

What Is the Total Calcium Blood Test?

The total calcium blood test is a blood test used to determine if an individual has normal calcium levels in his or her blood. These levels do not indicate if you have a particular disease. They are diagnostic tests, but follow-up tests are often needed to confirm a diagnosis. Having normal levels of calcium in your blood does not mean you do not suffer from osteoporosis. Other tests are needed to confirm or deny the presence of this condition.

How the Test Is Performed

How to Prepare for the Test

Types of Calcium

Normal Calcium Levels

Normal calcium levels are between 8.6 and 10.2 milligrams of calcium per deciliter of blood. It is possible to have normal calcium blood levels and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by bone loss. Always refer to the reference range used by the lab that analyzed your total calcium blood test results. These will vary slightly depending on the lab that runs the tests. Normal levels of free calcium in your blood is usually greater than 4.6 milligrams per deciliter, but remember to refer to the lab's determination of normal levels. 

When Do You Need a Total Calcium Blood Test?

Certain government employees, such as firefighters, police officers, paramedics, EMTs and military servicemen, have to pass physical examinations every six months to keep their jobs. One of the most common reasons people get a total calcium blood test is to determine if they have normal calcium levels in their blood is and find out if they have a disease that affects calcium levels in your blood. Medical conditions that increase your risk for having too little or too much calcium in your blood include: 

  • Bone disease 
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Nerve issues
  • Overactive thyroid gland
  • Pancreatitis
  • Parathyroid disease
  • Nutrient absorption problems

Parathyroid Disease

Kidney Disease

Cancer

Certain Medications

Symptoms of High Calcium

Symptoms of Low Calcium

Causes of Low Calcium

Normal Calcium Blood Test Results:  What Do They Mean?

A person is holding a blood tube

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Having exceptionally high or low levels of calcium in your blood, along with other symptoms, can help to diagnose certain medical conditions. Higher than normal calcium levels may indicate you have a certain type of cancer such as breast, lung, head, neck or kidney cancer or multiple myeloma. It may also indicate you spend too much time immobile. It is also indicative of HIV or AIDS, an excess of vitamin D in your diet either from food or multivitamin supplements, tuberculosis, sarcoidosis or overactive thyroid or parathyroid glands.  Too much calcium in your blood may indicate a severe lack of physical activity because your bones leak calcium into the blood when they rarely bear weight over long periods of time. Also, people who have received a kidney transplant will occasionally test positive for excessively high levels of calcium in the bloodstream. 

Low Calcium Levels

Follow-Up Diagnostic Tests

Conclusion

A Person is holding a blood tube to measure the normal calcium levels of a person

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If bone loss concerns you and your total calcium blood test indicates you have normal calcium levels in your blood, you may still have osteoporosis and need other diagnostic tests. Remember, calcium blood tests do not indicate how much calcium you have in your bones or how quickly your bones are losing calcium. A 24-hour urine calcium test is needed to determine this.  To prepare for your calcium blood test, let your doctor know of all medications and supplements you are taking. He or she may advise you to stop taking these temporarily. Follow your normal diet to not skew the results. Having high or low levels of calcium in your blood may prompt your doctor to conduct follow-up tests, such as tests for kidney failure or other blood tests, to indicate inadequate or excessive levels of vitamins and minerals.    

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