The Calcium Economy

Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


Calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the biosphere (after iron, aluminum, silicon, and oxygen). It is the stuff of limestone and marble, coral and pearls, seashells and eggshells, antlers and bones. Because calcium salts exhibit intermediate solubility, calcium is found both in solid form (rocks) and in solution. It was probably present in abundance in the watery environment in which life first appeared. Today, seawater contains approx10 mmol calcium per liter (approximately eight times higher than the calcium concentration in the extracellular water of higher vertebrates). Even fresh waters, if they support an abundant biota, typically contain calcium at concentrations of 1–2 mmol (in the range of vertebrate extracellular fluid [ECF] calcium levels). In most soils, calcium exists as an exchangeable cation in the soil colloids. It is taken up by plants, whose parts typically contain from 0.1 to as much as 8% calcium. Generally, calcium concentrations are highest in the leaves, lower in the stems and roots, and lowest in the seeds (a fact that has important consequences for the shift to seed-based foods at the time of the agricultural revolution).


Bone Mass Calcium Intake Dietary Calcium Intake Resorptive Efficiency Osteoclastic Resorption 
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© Humana Press Inc., Totowa, NJ 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Creighton UniversityOmaha

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