Calcium

L H Allen, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, USA

J E Kerstetter, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Calcium is an essential nutrient. Although most of the calcium in the body is found in bones and teeth, the other 1% has critical, life-sustaining functions.

Most people in the world, including those in industrialized countries, fail to consume the recommended amounts of calcium, which will ultimately result in poor bone health and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Adequate calcium intake is critical to the achievement of peak bone mass in the first several decades of life, the retention of bone during middle adulthood, and the minimization of bone loss during the last several decades. Without adequate intake, the intestine, bone, and renal systems have intricate ways of retaining more calcium and normalizing serum calcium levels. These three primary tissues of calcium homeostasis (intestine, bone, and kidneys) are dynamic in their handling of calcium, reacting to dietary intake, physiological need, or disease processes. This article discusses calcium absorption, regulation, function, metabolism, and excretion as well as the changes in calcium physiology during the lifespan.

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