Ca is not only essential for bone mineralisation, but also for regulation of extracellular and intracellular processes. When the Ca2+ intake is low, the efficiency of intestinal Ca2+ absorption and renal Ca2+ reabsorption is increased. This adaptive mechanism involves calcitriol enhancement via parathyroid hormone stimulation. Bone is also highly affected. Low Ca2+ intake is considered a risk factor for osteoporosis. Patients with renal lithiasis may be at higher risk of recurrence of stone formation when they have low Ca2+ intake. The role of dietary Ca2+ on the regulation of lipid metabolism and lipogenic genes in adipocytes might explain an inverse relationship between dairy intake and BMI. Dietary Ca2+ restriction produces impairment of the adipocyte apoptosis and dysregulation of glucocorticosteroid metabolism in the adipose tissue. An inverse relationship between hypertension and a low-Ca2+ diet has been described. Ca2+ facilitates weight loss and stimulates insulin sensitivity, which contributes to the decrease in the blood pressure. There is also evidence that dietary Ca2+ is associated with colorectal cancer. Dietary Ca2+ could alter the ratio of faecal bile acids, reducing the cytotoxicity of faecal water, or it could activate Ca2+-sensing receptors, triggering intracellular signalling pathways. Also it could bind luminal antigens, transporting them into mucosal mononuclear cells as a mechanism of immunosurveillance and promotion of tolerance. Data relative to nutritional Ca2+ and incidences of other human cancers are controversial. Health professionals should be aware of these nutritional complications and reinforce the dairy intakes to ensure the recommended Ca2+ requirements and prevent diseases.
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