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Calcium is incredibly important for the functioning of the human body. Though 99 percent of it is found in the teeth and bones, the blood vessels, nerves, and muscles also all need calcium. They get it through the blood steam, in which that all-important remaining one percent should reside. 

The term "calcification" refers to the buildup of calcium in parts of the body where it shouldn't be accumulating, causing the hardening of the tissues in question. This kind of calcium build up can affect many parts of the body, including: 
  • The arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Heart valves (aortic valve calcification)
  • Other organs, like the kidneys, bladder, and even (though not commonly) the liver
  • Other soft tissues (muscles, breasts, adipose tissue)
  • Joints and tendons
  • The brain (cranial calcification)

What Causes Calcification?

Some calcification is a normal and expected part of the process of aging. Almost all adult humans have some calcification of the pineal gland in the brain, for instance, and around half of all women over 50 have some calcification within their breast tissues.

Calcifications can also, however, be pathological, and depending on the kind of calcification, the following causes can play a role:

  • Excessive intake of vitamin D (soft tissue calcification, kidney stones)
  • A vitamin K deficiency
  • Age in combination with excessive physical activity and/or being overweight (calcification as a complication of osteoarthritis)
  • Genetics
  • Existing heart or kidney conditions
  • Taking certain medications that affect how your body processes calcium, such as hypertension and cholesterol drugs
  • Injury
  • Smoking

How Do You Know If You Are Experiencing Calcification? Can You Prevent It?

Due to the varied parts of the body that can be affected by calcification, it is impossible to make blanket statements about symptoms people may experience. Most of the time, however, there will be no obvious symptoms, and it is most likely that you will find out about calcifications after undergoing an X-ray for different reasons entirely. 

The best thing anyone can do to try to prevent calcification is to live a healthy life and to talk to their doctor about prevention if they are at an increased risk. It is additionally wise to attend regular preventative checkups with your doctor, especially once you reach middle age and beyond.

Treatment For Calcification

The treatment for calcification depends entirely on the type you are dealing with. Calcium deposits in joints and tendons may be removed surgically, for example, while people with kidney stones will likely be prescribed diuretics that encourage the accumulation of calcium where it belongs — in the bones. Those prone to kidney stones may also be advised to reduce their calcium intake. Surgery may be necessary if you suffer from heart valve calcification, while those with brain calcification may be prescribed biphosphanates, a class of medication that is also used to treat osteoporosis. 

In Conclusion

While calcification of any kind is unlikely to produce symptoms that easily lead to self-diagnosis, any person worried about their health should certainly consult a physician. Describing your symptoms in detail will allow your doctor to decide what kinds of tests should be conducted, something that will lead to a diagnosis. 

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