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Calcium and cell function

Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for the body. It is useful for the construction of different structures, such as bones, teeth and nails, but it is also essential for muscle contraction and its presence is essential for all the cells of the body. Calcium is an atom and is the constituent of hormones and proteins that make up the cell itself. The human organism, without calcium, could not survive.

To better understand the importance that this element has for the life of the organism it is appropriate to focus well on the role of calcium in the cell, and why it is so important to avoid its deficiency.

Calcium is the basis for more complex structures. Some proteins may contain calcium, which allows the structure formation of certain cells as the osteocytes, the basic units of the bones. Calcium is fixed in these structures and stays there for a long time, usually until death of the cell itself.

This mineral has also a much more dynamic role. Calcium presents in the organism is a positively charged ion (Ca2), capable of creating a difference in electrical potential. Its charge is very low and its positivity makes possible the link with other negatively charged ions for structure formation, and the exchange with other positive ions. The switch of ions places leads to a potential difference as well as a difference in cell concentration. Therefore, calcium in the cell behaves as a messenger, allowing the initiation of different processes.

The muscular cells are the one in which the procedure is most evident even if  all processes involve calcium.

 

The role of calcium in the muscular cells.

Cell calcium in the muscle has the function to activate the mechanism of contraction. It allows the initiation of contraction by binding to myosin, one of the two muscle fibers (the other is actin) enhance the unfolding of the process. Before the real contraction takes place, the muscle receives electrical signals from the brain causing the release of calcium from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, i.e. the “part” of the muscle cell that contains it.

This mechanism is achieved thanks to the energy contribution of calcium. The lack of this latter makes impossible even the smallest daily gestures that imply a muscular contraction.

 

The role of calcium in the non muscle-cells.

In the case of non muscle tissue cells, calcium still behaves like a messenger but responding to additional stimuli, like, hormones instead that to nervous impulse.

When a hormone, or another substance, stimulates a cell, it leads to an acute reaction. This is similar to the one happened in the muscle and it occurs by releasing calcium from the endoplasmic reticulum (the “generic” version of the sarcoplasmic reticulum present in the muscles).

When the reticulum released calcium, the concentration in the cytosol (i.e. the central liquid of the cells) increases. Depending on the type of cells, the increase in concentration stimulates different processes as reproduction, growth, up to the production of other hormones.

Also in this case, the lack of calcium causes an impossibility to maintain the correct functioning of the different cells leading to the typical symptoms of hypocalcaemia.

 

How to overcome calcium deficiency.

When the body remains short of calcium, it must be integrated. The lack of calcium has basically two causes.  The absence of calcium is the result of an incorrect diet based on foodstuffs not containing this mineral. A diet aimed at a correct introduction of calcium in the body must provide for the presence of milk and its derivatives, but also of different foods of plant origin. Alternatively, you can take food supplements that help restore the right level of calcium in your blood.

The other cause is the incorrect absorption of calcium due to a lack of vitamin K, which is responsible for its intestinal absorption, and vitamin D3, which favors the deposit bone. The absence in the long run of these two elements leads a lack of calcium in the organism.

In this case it is recommended to take a specific food supplement such as D3K1, composed of two essential vitamins for mineral absorption. The product is indicated both in cases where the symptoms of hypocalcaemia have already occurred, which require timely reintegration of the mineral, both for preventive purposes to avoid the onset of the same.

Author Info

Internazionale Biolife S.r.l.