<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the effect of too much or too little calcium on the body
  • Explain the process of calcium homeostasis

Calcium is not only the most abundant mineral in bone, it is also the most abundant mineral in the human body. Calcium ions are needed not only for bone mineralization but for tooth health, regulation of the heart rate and strength of contraction, blood coagulation, contraction of smooth and skeletal muscle cells, and regulation of nerve impulse conduction. The normal level of calcium in the blood is about 10 mg/dL. When the body cannot maintain this level, a person will experience hypo- or hypercalcemia.

Hypocalcemia , a condition characterized by abnormally low levels of calcium, can have an adverse effect on a number of different body systems including circulation, muscles, nerves, and bone. Without adequate calcium, blood has difficulty coagulating, the heart may skip beats or stop beating altogether, muscles may have difficulty contracting, nerves may have difficulty functioning, and bones may become brittle. The causes of hypocalcemia can range from hormonal imbalances to an improper diet. Treatments vary according to the cause, but prognoses are generally good.

Conversely, in hypercalcemia    , a condition characterized by abnormally high levels of calcium, the nervous system is underactive, which results in lethargy, sluggish reflexes, constipation and loss of appetite, confusion, and in severe cases, coma.

Obviously, calcium homeostasis is critical. The skeletal, endocrine, and digestive systems play a role in this, but the kidneys do, too. These body systems work together to maintain a normal calcium level in the blood ( [link] ).

Pathways in calcium homeostasis

In this illustration, the two mechanisms that maintain calcium homeostasis are shown as two semicircles that are combined, one on top of each other, to make a complete circle. Homeostasis occurs along the diameter of the circle, at the border between the two semicircles. At homoeostasis, normal calcium levels are 10 milligrams per deciliter. The upper semicircle represents the mechanism that reduces elevated calcium levels in the blood when the levels are too high. First, the thyroid gland releases calcitonin. Calcitonin activity inhibits osteoclasts and decreases the reabsorption of calcium ions in the kidney. These two actions cause calcium ion levels in the blood to drop back to homeostasis. The lower semicircle represents the mechanisms that increase calcium levels in the blood when the levels are too low. First, the parathyroid glands release PTH. PTH stimulates osteoclast activity, causing calcium ions to be released from bone. PTH also increases the reabsorption of calcium by the kidney. In addition, PTH also increases calcium absorption in the small intestines via Vitamin D synthesis. These three actions cause calcium ion levels in the blood to increase.
The body regulates calcium homeostasis with two pathways; one is signaled to turn on when blood calcium levels drop below normal and one is the pathway that is signaled to turn on when blood calcium levels are elevated.

Calcium is a chemical element that cannot be produced by any biological processes. The only way it can enter the body is through the diet. The bones act as a storage site for calcium: The body deposits calcium in the bones when blood levels get too high, and it releases calcium when blood levels drop too low. This process is regulated by PTH, vitamin D, and calcitonin.

Cells of the parathyroid gland have plasma membrane receptors for calcium. When calcium is not binding to these receptors, the cells release PTH, which stimulates osteoclast proliferation and resorption of bone by osteoclasts. This demineralization process releases calcium into the blood. PTH promotes reabsorption of calcium from the urine by the kidneys, so that the calcium returns to the blood. Finally, PTH stimulates the synthesis of vitamin D, which in turn, stimulates calcium absorption from any digested food in the small intestine.

When all these processes return blood calcium levels to normal, there is enough calcium to bind with the receptors on the surface of the cells of the parathyroid glands, and this cycle of events is turned off ( [link] ).

When blood levels of calcium get too high, the thyroid gland is stimulated to release calcitonin ( [link] ), which inhibits osteoclast activity and stimulates calcium uptake by the bones, but also decreases reabsorption of calcium by the kidneys. All of these actions lower blood levels of calcium. When blood calcium levels return to normal, the thyroid gland stops secreting calcitonin.

Chapter review

Calcium homeostasis, i.e., maintaining a blood calcium level of about 10 mg/dL, is critical for normal body functions. Hypocalcemia can result in problems with blood coagulation, muscle contraction, nerve functioning, and bone strength. Hypercalcemia can result in lethargy, sluggish reflexes, constipation and loss of appetite, confusion, and coma. Calcium homeostasis is controlled by PTH, vitamin D, and calcitonin and the interactions of the skeletal, endocrine, digestive, and urinary systems.

Questions & Answers

the art of managing the production, distribution and consumption.
Satangthem Reply
what is economics
Khawar Reply
what is Open Market Operation
Adu Reply
dominating middlemen men activities circumstances
Christy Reply
what Equilibrium price
Adji Reply
what is gap
mirwais
who is good with the indifference curve
Dexter
What is diseconomic
Alixe Reply
what are the types of goods
WARIDI
how can price determination be the central problem of micro economics
simon Reply
marginal cost formula
Nandu Reply
you should differentiate the total cost function in order to get marginal cost function then you can get marginal cost from it
boniphace
What about total cost
Foday
ok
Foday
how can price determination be the central problem if micro economics
simon
formula of cross elasticity of demand
Theresia Reply
what is ceteris paribus
Priyanka Reply
what is ceteris parabus
Priyanka
Ceteris paribus - Literally, "other things being equal"; usually used in economics to indicate that all variables except the ones specified are assumed not to change.
Abdullah
What is broker
scor
land is natural resources that is made by nature
scor
What is broker
scor
what is land
kafui
What is broker
scor
land is natural resources that is made by nature
scor
whats poppina nigga turn it up for a minute get it
amarsyaheed Reply
what is this?
Philo
am from nigeria@ pilo
Frank
am from nigeria@ pilo
Frank
so
owusu
what is production possibility frontier
owusu
it's a summary of opportunity cost depicted on a curve.
okhiria
please help me solve this question with the aid of appropriate diagrams explain how each of the following changes will affect the market price and quantity of bread 1. A
Manuela Reply
please l need past question about economics
Prosper Reply
ok let me know some of the questions please.
Effah
ok am not wit some if den nw buh by tommorow I shall get Dem
adepojurafiu
Hi guys can I get Adam Smith's WEALTH OF NATIONS fo sale?
Ukpen
hello I'm Babaisa alhaji Mustapha. I'm studying Economics in the university of Maiduguri
Babaisa
okay
Humaira
my name is faisal Yahaya. i studied economics at Kaduna state university before proceeding to West African union university benin republic for masters
Faisal
Hi guys..I am from Bangladesh..
Mannan
Wat d meaning of management
igwe Reply
disaster management cycle
Gogul Reply
cooperate social responsibility
igwe
Fedric Wilson Taylor also define management as the act of knowing what to do and seeing that it is done in the best and cheapest way
OLANIYI
Difference between extinct and extici spicies
Amanpreet Reply
Researchers demonstrated that the hippocampus functions in memory processing by creating lesions in the hippocampi of rats, which resulted in ________.
Mapo Reply
The formulation of new memories is sometimes called ________, and the process of bringing up old memories is called ________.
Mapo Reply
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology: support and movement. OpenStax CNX. Aug 21, 2014 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11700/1.1
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Anatomy & Physiology: support and movement' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask