What is Calcium Metabolism?

C.B. Fox

Calcium metabolism, also called calcium homeostasis, is the regulation of calcium in the body. Vitamin D is responsible for maintaining the proper balance of calcium, though there are a number of other vitamin deficiencies and disorders that can throw the balance off. There are health risks both in having too much calcium in the bloodstream and in not having enough.

Milk is a great source of calcium.
Milk is a great source of calcium.

It is important to maintain proper calcium metabolism because calcium is used by the body in a number of ways. The most obvious reason that humans require calcium is that it is a major component in the construction of bones. Without enough calcium, bones become brittle and, in children, do not grow properly. Aside from being an important component of bones, calcium is also used to regulate the heartbeat. It is responsible for the strength of the contraction of the heart and for the speed at which the heart beats.

Bananas contain calcium.
Bananas contain calcium.

The amount of calcium consumed can affect a person’s calcium metabolism. A relatively common mineral, calcium can be found in many different foods, especially dairy products. Levels of vitamin D also have an impact on calcium metabolism because this vitamin regulates the amount of calcium that is in the blood. Vitamin D is also found in food, although it can be created through exposure to sunlight as well. Any deficiency or surplus of vitamin D can lead to a similar deficiency or surplus of calcium.

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The human heart relies on calcium metabolism to help it contract, or beat.
The human heart relies on calcium metabolism to help it contract, or beat.

Vitamin K and hydrogen levels also have an effect on calcium metabolism. Certain proteins in the body, called albumin, are negatively charged and attract positively charged hydrogen and calcium particles. Hydrogen is the preferred particle, but if there is not enough of it, calcium will bind to albumin, meaning that it cannot be used to regulate heartbeat or build bones. Vitamin K is another positively charged particle that exists mainly within cells. Without a sufficient supply of this vitamin, calcium can be pulled into the cell in its stead.

Calcium metabolism and calcium levels are important to maintain because there are a number of serious health problems that can arise without the proper amount. Too little calcium can lead to bone disorders, including osteomalacia, osteoporosis, and, in children, rickets. The heart can also suffer from a lack of calcium, which can lead to cardiac arrest if levels drop low enough. Too much calcium can lead to accumulation in undesirable areas, such as kidney stones or bone spurs. Improper calcium metabolism in either direction can lead to neurological problems.

Too much calcium can lead to kidney stones.
Too much calcium can lead to kidney stones.

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