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The Effect of Calcium on the Liver

by
author image Stephanie Chandler
Stephanie Chandler is a freelance writer whose master's degree in biomedical science and over 15 years experience in the scientific and pharmaceutical professions provide her with the knowledge to contribute to health topics. Chandler has been writing for corporations and small businesses since 1991. In addition to writing scientific papers and procedures, her articles are published on Overstock.com and other websites.
The Effect of Calcium on the Liver
Dairy foods, including milk and cheese, serve as good sources of calcium. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body. Although the bones contain 99 percent of the calcium, the remaining 1 percent in the blood must remain within a very narrow concentration range to support vital physiological functions. In addition to keeping your bones and teeth strong, calcium plays an important role in nerve signal transmission, muscle contraction, blood vessel dilation and constriction, heartbeat regulation and hormone secretion. Liver disease can affect calcium levels. Because calcium interferes with the absorption of iron, which can accumulate in the liver, calcium indirectly affects the liver.

Preventing Iron Overload

Iron overload, medically known as hemochromatosis, occurs when iron accumulates in the organs, most commonly the liver. Hemochromatosis may also affect the heart and the pancreas. Symptoms of iron overload include fatigue, lack of energy and abdominal pain. If left untreated, the buildup of iron can cause an enlarged liver, the buildup of scar tissue known as cirrhosis and liver disease. When taken at the same time, calcium decreases the absorption of iron. For this reason, usually doctors suggest taking iron supplements either two hours before or two hours after taking calcium supplements. For someone at risk for hemochromatosis, such as those with a genetic predisposition, the effect of calcium on iron absorption may be beneficial to the liver.

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Liver Disease Effect

The liver produces the major plasma protein in the blood known as albumin. Albumin binds to water and cations, like calcium, to regulate the osmotic pressure in the blood. A diseased liver cannot produce enough albumin, which affects the pressure within the vascular system and allows fluid to leak out of the blood vessels. In addition, when albumin levels fall, less calcium can remain in the bloodstream, leading to a condition known as hypocalcemia.

Hypocalcemia

Hypocalcemia occurs when the amount of calcium in the blood drops below 8.2 milligrams per deciliter, as reported by the Cleveland Clinic. It's most commonly caused by a malfunction in the parathyroid gland, which produces parathyroid hormone essential to regulating blood calcium levels. Hypocalcemia produces symptoms ranging from mild repetitive tremors known as tetany to serious conditions like seizures, dementia, low blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

Resolution

To avoid low blood calcium levels caused by liver disease, it is important you maintain a healthy liver. Approximately 75 percent of the blood entering the liver flows through the portal vein carrying the blood from the small intestine, stomach, pancreas and spleen, according to Colorado State University. Although this blood contains all the nutrients just absorbed through the small intestine, it also contains all the toxins you ingested. Drugs, including prescription, over-the-counter and illegal, all travel through the liver. The alcohol you consume also flows into the liver. As the first organ to encounter these toxins, the liver sustains the majority of the damage. To keep your liver healthy and maintain your blood calcium level, avoid excessive drug use and alcohol consumption.

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