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Breaking Science News:
Fixing C15:0 Deficiencies Helps Slow Aging

Calcium Deficiency: Signs & Symptoms To Look For

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
  • Calcium deficiency is a worldwide issue, affecting nearly half of the world’s population. 

    Certain populations of people are more susceptible to calcium deficiency, including postmenopausal women and people on restrictive diets.

    A more recently identified nutrient deficiency (C15:0) can be addressed by supplementation with fatty15, the only dietary supplement to contain pure C15:0.

Calcium deficiency is a global issue. Current estimates place nearly half of the world’s population at risk for not getting enough of this mineral in their diets. Calcium is essential for more than just strong bones and healthy teeth. It plays a major role in muscle and nerve function and helps support blood vessels and hormone levels. 

If you are at risk of calcium deficiency, you may begin to notice symptoms. We’ll cover the symptoms and ways to ensure you’re getting enough calcium. We’ll also cover a more recently discovered nutrient deficiency, how to test for it, and tell you how to fix it, too.

What Is the Role of Calcium in Your Body?

Since childhood, we’ve been told that drinking milk is the key to calcium. It’s true that dairy products contain calcium, but dairy isn’t the only source. 

Plant-based sources of calcium include foods like beans, tofu, broccoli, spinach, nuts, and seeds. In addition, many fortified foods (like breakfast cereals) also contain calcium. 

Calcium has a big job in the human body. It is stored primarily in the bones and teeth, keeping them healthy and strong. Calcium has other important functions outside of bone density. 

Some of the other important ways calcium works in the body include:

  • Mediating blood vessel contraction and dilation 
  • Ensuring proper muscle function
  • Helping blood clot properly
  • Supporting nerve communication and function
  • Regulating certain hormones

Without enough calcium, an increased risk of osteoporosis isn’t the only condition to watch out for. Over time, calcium deficiency (also known as hypocalcemia) can have a significant negative impact on your body. 

Calcium Deficiency: What To Know

If you eat a balanced diet, you are less likely to develop calcium deficiency than someone who eats a very restrictive diet or has less access to calcium-rich foods. However, certain underlying health conditions may affect the way the body absorbs calcium, placing a person who has them at risk of calcium deficiency. 

Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency

Although not everyone with a calcium deficiency will have the same symptoms, there are certain signs that may alert you that you aren’t getting enough calcium in your diet, or that your body isn’t absorbing the calcium in your diet properly. 

They include: 

  • Muscle problems. The most common symptom of calcium deficiency isn’t actually bones that break more easily; it’s issues with the muscles. Muscle contractions, aches, cramps, and twitches may be your first signs, especially if these issues occur for no apparent reason. 
  • Fatigue. Feeling tired even if you get plenty of rest can be a symptom of numerous underlying health conditions, but it may also mean you have a calcium deficiency.
  • Skin problems. Dry skin, psoriasis, and skin irritation can characterize a long-term calcium deficiency. 
  • Nail and hair health. Noticing that your nails seem more brittle or that your hair is splitting and thinning can be a sign that you haven’t been getting enough calcium over a long period of time. 
  • Bone health issues. Both osteoporosis and osteopenia can result from not having a high enough amount of calcium present in the bones over long periods of time. It typically takes years of low calcium levels for your bone health to decline into osteoporosis, but increasing your calcium intake now can help prevent these issues.

Additional symptoms might also be associated with calcium deficiency. Some research has indicated that low levels of calcium and vitamin D deficiency are associated with worse premenstrual syndrome symptoms. A person who doesn’t get enough calcium may also develop dental problems or even depression. 

Who Is at Risk?

You may be at increased risk of developing a calcium deficiency if:

  • You are a postmenopausal woman. After menopause, estrogen deficiency can lead to bone loss, which will cause calcium levels in the body to decline. Many healthcare providers recommend that premenopausal and postmenopausal women take a calcium supplement to prevent this type of calcium loss.

  • You are lactose intolerant. People who cannot consume lactose and who avoid dairy may have less calcium. If you are lactose intolerant, it’s important to consume calcium through plant-based sources and/or calcium supplements or fortified foods (like cereals or fortified orange juice).

  • You consume a restrictive diet. Vegans and vegetarians may be at risk for developing a calcium deficiency as they do not regularly consume dairy products that are rich in calcium. 

Even if you don’t meet a risk factor for calcium deficiency, it may still be possible for you to not get enough of this essential mineral. A blood test that measures your blood calcium levels is needed to determine whether or not you have enough calcium. 

How Much Calcium You Need

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium for adults is 1,000 mg per day. Adult females over age 50 should aim for 1,200 mg of calcium per day, and older adults over age 70 should also aim for this amount. 

It’s important to note that too much calcium can also have negative health impacts. Kidney stones, heart arrhythmias, frequent urination, constipation, nausea, low phosphate levels, and weight loss can be symptoms you’re getting too much. 

A high calcium concentration in the blood usually isn’t associated with a high calcium intake but rather with underlying medical conditions like high levels of parathyroid hormone or certain types of cancer. 

How To Get More Calcium in Your Diet

If your doctor determines that your lack of calcium isn’t due to an issue with calcium absorption but rather with your overall calcium intake, you can consult a dietitian to help ensure you are eating enough calcium-rich foods to supplement your body’s calcium needs. 

Focusing on meats like shellfish, sardines, trout, and crab, and plant-based sources like spinach and collards can help support your goals. In addition, taking a calcium supplement may be necessary. Your doctor may direct you to take a vitamin D supplement along with your calcium supplement, which can help maintain healthy vitamin D levels and proper calcium absorption.

How Long Does Recovery From Calcium Deficiency Take?

Most people with a calcium deficiency can see improvements in symptoms after a few weeks of increasing their calcium levels. If you have a more serious deficiency, it may take longer for your body to heal. If your symptoms don’t dissipate after you have been taking in more dietary calcium for several weeks, contact your healthcare provider to determine your next steps.

Although calcium deficiency is rarely life-threatening, it is an important issue that should be addressed by those who suffer from it. Americans generally have fewer dietary deficiencies than other countries, but one deficiency that may affect 1 in every 3 of us is related to C15:0. 

Never heard of it? Chances are, not yet.

What Is C15:0?

C15:0, also known as pentadecanoic acid, is an odd-chain, essential, saturated fatty acid that helps support the health and wellness of our bodies from the cells up. Our cellular health is vital to the health and function of every tissue, organ, and system in our bodies. 

When our cells are healthy, we experience good health. When our cells are not healthy, we may experience negative health consequences. Focusing on our cellular health can help increase our longevity and support our health spans. 

In fact, cellular health is so important that researchers have linked the entire aging process with functional and structural changes within our cells themselves. They’ve also discovered that low levels of C15:0 lead to fragile cells, a higher occurrence of lipid peroxidation, and premature cellular breakdown. Because of these issues, people with low levels of C15:0 often experience poor cardiovascular, liver, and metabolic health. 

Increasing your levels of C15:0 supports cellular health in several key ways.

  • Strengthening cellular membranes. Studies have shown that pure C15:0 improves cellular strength by 80%, which is important for helping cells retain their protection and shape. 
  • Clearing damaged cells. C15:0 activates AMPK, which helps remove cells that are no longer functioning properly and could be causing an unnecessary inflammatory response in the body. 
  • Restoring mitochondrial function. In one peer-reviewed study, C15:0 was shown to increase ATP levels in cells by 350%. That means more cellular energy for more cellular function, which translates to more function throughout the organs and systems in our bodies. 
  • Restoring homeostasis. C15:0 restores cellular and whole-body homeostasis, regulates glucose uptake, and calms our immune systems through the activation of AMPK as well as PPARɑ and PPARẟ receptors. These receptors support metabolic, immune, heart, and liver health and even deepened sleep. 

The good news? Although you may be deficient in C15:0, it’s easy to restore your circulating levels, and (spoiler alert) it isn’t through your diet.

How Do I Know If I Am Deficient in C15:0?

A blood test is all it takes to check your C15:0 levels. Studies on the effects of C15:0 suggest that C15:0 should represent 0.2% of your total fatty acids. Healthy levels are usually between 0.2% to 0.4%. 

The optimal zone is likely closer to 0.6%. In fact, in blue zones (where residents frequently live to be over 100 years of age) circulating levels of C15:0 are closer to 0.6% of the total amount of fatty acids in your blood.

Your doctor can measure and monitor your C15:0 levels with a C15:0 test, along with labs that are collected on a routine basis, such as a complete blood count, fasting lipid panel, and liver enzyme test. 

How To Get C15:0

C15:0 is found primarily in whole dairy products like whole milk and full-fat butter. Unfortunately, increasing your intake of full-fat dairy products may not be an ideal solution. 

By increasing your whole dairy intake, you’d also be increasing your intake of bad, even-chain saturated fats, which are consistently linked to negative health outcomes. In addition, you’d be subjecting yourself to numerous additional calories and sugar (from lactose) that wouldn’t necessarily support your health goals.

Instead, you can opt for fatty15. Fatty 15 is the first and only supplement that contains the pure, powdered form of C15:0 known as FA15™. 

Elevate your cells. Elevate your self.

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Why a Supplement Works

There are a few reasons why taking fatty15 to obtain your C15:0 may be beneficial. 

  • First, it's made ready to absorb. In milk (and other foods), C15:0 is attached to branches of lipids called triacylglycerides, aka triglycerides. That means our gut has to use digestive enzymes to break down these triacylglycerides to release C15:0 as a free fatty acid. Once C15:0 is released, it is ready to be absorbed. These multiple steps can make our absorption of C15:0 from foods less efficient. In contrast, FA15 in fatty15 is our proprietary pure, powder C15:0 ingredient already in free fatty acid form. Less work for the gut, more good C15:0 for our bodies.
  • It's not mixed with bad saturated fats. While the good C15:0 fatty acid is present in whole-fat dairy products in trace levels, there are much higher levels of “bad” even-chain saturated fatty acids that continue to be associated with poorer health. 
  • It skips the cows and calories. Each fatty15 capsule is just one calorie, allowing you to bypass the excess calories in whole-fat dairy. In addition, fatty15 is completely vegan, making it possible for you to get your C15:0 without involving cows. Interestingly, plant-based milk replacements lack C15:0 altogether. 

While some nutrient deficiencies may be better addressed through dietary intervention, C15:0 deficiency simply isn’t one of them. Taking fatty15 is a good solution for increasing your C15:0 levels and protecting your cells against aging. By supporting your cells, you’re making a serious investment in your health and longevity. 

Defy Deficiency

A blood test can help you determine if you are deficient in calcium or C15:0. If you are, speak to your healthcare provider about how a supplement can help. Consider taking fatty15 to increase your C15:0 levels, prevent nutritional C15:0 deficiencies, and optimize your health and wellness. 


Calcium deficiency worldwide: prevalence of inadequate intakes and associated health outcomes | NCBI.NIH.gov

Calcium - Health Professional Fact Sheet | NIH.gov

Effect of calcium on premenstrual syndrome: A double-blind randomized clinical trial | PMC

Hallmarks of aging: An expanding universe | PubMed

Dairy consumption and overweight and obesity: a systematic review of prospective cohort studies | Louie

Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential? | Scientific Reports

A review of odd-chain fatty acid metabolism and the role of pentadecanoic Acid (c15:0) and heptadecanoic Acid (c17:0) in health and disease

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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