Calcium metabolism in health and disease

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010 Jan;5 Suppl 1:S23-30. doi: 10.2215/CJN.05910809.


This brief review focuses on calcium balance and homeostasis and their relationship to dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation in healthy subjects and patients with chronic kidney disease and mineral bone disorders (CKD-MBD). Calcium balance refers to the state of the calcium body stores, primarily in bone, which are largely a function of dietary intake, intestinal absorption, renal excretion, and bone remodeling. Bone calcium balance can be positive, neutral, or negative, depending on a number of factors, including growth, aging, and acquired or inherited disorders. Calcium homeostasis refers to the hormonal regulation of serum ionized calcium by parathyroid hormone, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, and serum ionized calcium itself, which together regulate calcium transport at the gut, kidney, and bone. Hypercalcemia and hypocalcemia indicate serious disruption of calcium homeostasis but do not reflect calcium balance on their own. Calcium balance studies have determined the dietary and supplemental calcium requirements needed to optimize bone mass in healthy subjects. However, similar studies are needed in CKD-MBD, which disrupts both calcium balance and homeostasis, because these data in healthy subjects may not be generalizable to this patient group. Importantly, increasing evidence suggests that calcium supplementation may enhance soft tissue calcification and cardiovascular disease in CKD-MBD. Further research is needed to elucidate the risks and mechanisms of soft tissue calcification with calcium supplementation in both healthy subjects and CKD-MBD patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Remodeling
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium, Dietary / metabolism
  • Chronic Disease
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Hypercalcemia / metabolism
  • Hyperphosphatemia / metabolism
  • Hypocalcemia / metabolism
  • Hypophosphatemia / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Kidney Diseases / drug therapy
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Diseases / drug therapy
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism*
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Phosphates / metabolism
  • Phosphorus / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Phosphates
  • Vitamin D
  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium