Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K (from Neo-Latin kalium) and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction(SONY PCG-5G2L battery).
Because potassium and sodium are chemically very similar, it took a long time before their salts were differentiated. The existence of multiple elements in their salts was suspected from 1702, and this was proven in 1807 when potassium and sodium were individually isolated from different salts by electrolysis. Potassium in nature occurs only in ionic salts(SONY PCG-5G3L battery). As such, it is found dissolved in seawater (which is 0.04% potassium by weight), and is part of many minerals.
Most industrial chemical applications of potassium employ the relatively high solubility in water of potassium compounds, such as potassium soaps. Potassium metal has only a few special applications, being replaced in most chemical reactions with sodium metal.
Potassium ions are necessary for the function of all living cells(SONY PCG-F305 battery). Potassium ion diffusion is a key mechanism in nerve transmission, and potassium depletion in animals, including humans, results in various cardiac dysfunctions. Potassium is found in especially high concentrations within plant cells, and in a mixed diet it is mostly concentrated in fruits. The high concentration of potassium in plants(SONY PCG-5J1L battery), associated with comparatively low amounts of sodium there, resulted in potassium's being first isolated from potash, the ashes of plants, giving the element its name. For the same reason, heavy crop production rapidly depletes soils of potassium, and agricultural fertilizers consume 95% of global potassium chemical production(SONY PCG-5J2L battery).
The flame test of potassium
Potassium atoms have 19 electrons, which is one more than the extremely stable configuration of argon. A potassium atom is thus much more likely to lose the "extra" electron than to gain one; however, the alkalide ions, K–, are known. Because of the low first ionization energy (418.8 kJ/mol) the potassium atom easily loses an electron and oxidizes into the monopositive cation, K+(SONY PCG-5K2L battery). This process requires so little energy that potassium is readily oxidized by atmospheric oxygen. In contrast, the second ionization energy, is very high (3052 kJ/mol), because removal of two electrons breaks the stable noble gas electronic configuration. Potassium therefore does not readily form compounds with the oxidation state of +2 (or higher) (SONY PCG-5L1L battery).
Potassium is the second least dense metal after lithium. It is a soft solid that has a low melting point and can easily be cut with a knife. Freshly cut potassium is silvery in appearance, but it begins to tarnish toward gray immediately after being exposed to air. In a flame test, potassium and its compounds emit a lilac color with a peak emission wavelength of 766.5 nm (see movie below). (SONY PCG-6S2L battery)
Potassium is an extremely active metal, which reacts violently with oxygen and water in air. With oxygen, it converts to potassium peroxide and with water potassium hydroxide. The reaction of potassium with water is dangerous because of its violent exothermic character and the production of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen reacts again with atmospheric oxygen, producing water, which reacts with the remaining potassium(SONY PCG-6S3L battery). This reaction requires only traces of water; because of this, potassium and its liquid alloy with sodium — NaK — are potent desiccants that can be used to dry solvents prior to distillation.
Because of the sensitivity of potassium to water and air, the reactions are possible only in inert atmosphere, such as argon gas using air-free techniques. Potassium does not react with most hydrocarbons, such as mineral oil or kerosene(SONY PCG-6V1L battery). It readily dissolves in liquid ammonia, up to 480 g per 1000 g of ammonia at 0 °C. Depending on the concentration, the ammonia solutions are blue to yellow, and their electrical conductivity is similar to that of liquid metals. In a pure solution, potassium slowly reacts with ammonia to form KNH2, but this reaction is accelerated by minute amounts of transition metal salts. It can reduce the salts to the metal(SONY PCG-6W1L battery); potassium is often used as the reductant in the preparation of finely divided metals from their salts by the Rieke method. For example, the preparation of Rieke magnesium employs potassium as the reductant:
MgCl2 + 2 K → Mg + 2 KCl
The only common oxidation state for potassium is +1. Potassium metal is a powerful reducing agent that is easily oxidized to the monopositive cation, K+. Once oxidized, it is very stable and difficult to reduce back to the metal(SONY PCG-7111L battery).
Potassium hydroxide reacts readily with carbon dioxide to produce potassium carbonate, and is used to remove traces of the gas from air. In general, potassium compounds have excellent water solubility, owing to the high hydration energy of the K+ ion. The potassium ion is colorless in water and is very difficult to precipitate; possible precipitation methods include reactions with sodium tetraphenylborate, hexachloroplatinic acid, and sodium cobaltinitrite(SONY PCG-71511M battery).
Potassium oxidizes faster than most metals and forms oxides with oxygen-oxygen bonds, as do all alkali metals except lithium. Three species are formed during the reaction: potassium oxide, potassium peroxide, and potassium superoxide, which contain three different oxygen-based ions: oxide (O2−), peroxide (O2−
2), and superoxide (O−
2) (SONY PCG-6W3L battery). The last two species, especially the superoxide, are rare and are formed only in reaction with very electropositive metals; these species contain oxygen—oxygen bonds. All potassium—oxygen binary compounds are known to react with water violently, forming potassium hydroxide. This compound is a very strong alkali, and 1.21 kg of it can dissolve as much as a liter of water.
Structure of solid potassium superoxide (KO2) (SONY PCG-7113L battery).
In aqueous solution
Potassium compounds are typically highly ionic and thus most of them are soluble in water. The main species in water are the aquo complexes [K(H2O)n]+ where n = 6 and 7. Some of the few salts that are poorly soluble include potassium tetraphenylborate, potassium hexachloroplatinate, and potassium cobaltinitrite. (SONY PCG-7133L battery)
Main article: isotopes of potassium
There are 24 known isotopes of potassium, three of which occur naturally: 39K (93.3%), 40K (0.0117%), and 41K (6.7%). Naturally occurring 40K has a half-life of 1.250×109 years. It decays to stable 40Ar by electron capture or positron emission (11.2%) or to stable 40Ca by beta decay (88.8%). The decay of 40K to 40Ar enables a commonly used method for dating rocks(SONY PCG-7Z1L battery). The conventional K-Ar dating method depends on the assumption that the rocks contained no argon at the time of formation and that all the subsequent radiogenic argon (i.e., 40Ar) was quantitatively retained. Minerals are dated by measurement of the concentration of potassium and the amount of radiogenic 40Ar that has accumulated. The minerals that are best suited for dating include biotite, muscovite(SONY PCG-7Z2L battery) , metamorphic hornblende, and volcanic feldspar; whole rock samples from volcanic flows and shallow instrusives can also be dated if they are unaltered. Outside of dating, potassium isotopes have been used as tracers in studies of weathering and for nutrient cycling studies because potassium is a macronutrient required for life. (SONY PCG-8Y1L battery)
40K occurs in natural potassium (and thus in some commercial salt substitutes) in sufficient quantity that large bags of those substitutes can be used as a radioactive source for classroom demonstrations. In healthy animals and people, 40K represents the largest source of radioactivity, greater even than 14C. In a human body of 70 kg mass, about 4,400 nuclei of 40K decay per second. The activity of natural potassium is 31 Bq/g. (SONY PCG-8Y2L battery)
Creation and occurrence
See also categories: Potassium minerals and Potassium compounds
Potassium in feldspar
Potassium is formed in the universe by nucleosynthesis from lighter atoms. The stable form of potassium is created in supernovas via the explosive Oxygen-burning process.
Elemental potassium does not occur in nature because it reacts violently with water (see section Precautions below). As various compounds, potassium makes up about 2.6% of the weight of the Earth's crust and is the seventh most abundant element, similar in abundance to sodium at approximately 1.8% of the crust(SONY PCG-8Z2L battery). In seawater, potassium at 0.39 g/L (0.039 wt/v%) is far less abundant than sodium at 10.8 g/L (1.08 wt/v%).
Orthoclase (potassium feldspar) is a common rock-forming mineral. Granite for example contains 5% potassium, which is well above the average in the Earth's crust. Sylvite (KCl), carnallite (KCl·MgCl2·6(H2O)), kainite (MgSO4·KCl·3H2O) and langbeinite (MgSO4·K2SO4)) are the minerals found in large evaporite deposits worldwide(SONY PCG-8Z1L battery). The deposits often show layers starting with the least soluble at the bottom and the most soluble on top. Deposits of niter (potassium nitrate) are formed by decomposition of organic material in contact with atmosphere, mostly in caves; because of the good water solubility of niter the formation of larger deposits requires special environmental conditions(SONY PCG-7112L battery).
Neither elemental potassium nor potassium salts (as separate entities from other salts) were known in Roman times, and the Latin name of the element is not Classical Latin but rather neo-Latin. The Latin name kalium was taken from the word "alkali", which in turn came from Arabic: القَلْيَه al-qalyah "plant ashes." The similar-sounding English term alkali is from this same root (potassium in Modern Standard Arabic is بوتاسيوم būtāsyūm) (SONY PCG-6W2L battery).
The English name for the element potassium comes from the word "potash", referring to the method by which potash was obtained – leaching the ash of burnt wood or tree leaves and evaporating the solution in a pot. Potash is primarily a mixture of potassium salts because plants have little or no sodium content, and the rest of a plant's major mineral content consists of calcium salts of relatively low solubility in water(SONY PCG-5K1L battery). While potash has been used since ancient times, it was not understood for most of its history to be a fundamentally different substance from sodium mineral salts. Georg Ernst Stahl obtained experimental evidence that led him to suggest the fundamental difference of sodium and potassium salts in 1702, and Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau was able to prove this difference in 1736(SONY PCGA-BP2E battery). The exact chemical composition of potassium and sodium compounds, and the status as chemical element of potassium and sodium, was not known then, and thus Antoine Lavoisier did include the alkali in his list of chemical elements in 1789.
Potassium metal was first isolated in 1807 in England by Sir Humphry Davy, who derived it from caustic potash (KOH), by the use of electrolysis of the molten salt with the newly discovered voltaic pile. Potassium was the first metal that was isolated by electrolysis(SONY PCGA-BP2EA battery). Later in the same year, Davy reported extraction of the metal sodium from a mineral derivative (caustic soda, NaOH, or lye) rather than a plant salt, by a similar technique, demonstrating that the elements, and thus the salts, are different. Although the production of potassium and sodium metal should have shown that both are elements, it took some time before this view was universally accepted(SONY VGP-BPS2 battery).
For a long time the only significant applications for potash were the production of glass, bleach, and soap. Potassium soaps from animal fats and vegetable oils were especially prized, as they tended to be more water-soluble and of softer texture, and were known as soft soaps. The discovery by Justus Liebig in 1840 that potassium is a necessary element for plants and that most types of soil lack potassium caused a steep rise in demand for potassium salts(SONY VGP-BPS3 battery). Wood-ash from fir trees was initially used as a potassium salt source for fertilizer, but, with the discovery in 1868 of mineral deposits containing potassium chloride near Staßfurt, Germany, the production of potassium-containing fertilizers began at an industrial scale. Other potash deposits were discovered, and by the 1960s Canada became the dominant producer. (SONY VGP-BPS4 battery)
Sylvite from New Mexico
Potassium salts such as carnallite, langbeinite, polyhalite, and sylvite form extensive deposits in ancient lake and seabeds, making extraction of potassium salts in these environments commercially viable. The principal source of potassium – potash – is mined in Canada, Russia, Belarus, Germany, Israel, United States, Jordan, and other places around the world. (SONY VGP-BPS5 battery) The first mined deposits were located near Staßfurt, Germany, but the deposits span from Great Britain over Germany into Poland. They are located in the Zechstein and were deposited in the Middle to Late Permian. The largest deposits ever found lie 1000 meters (3000 feet) below the surface of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The deposits are located in the Elk Point Group produced in the Middle Devonian(SONY VGP-BPS5A battery). Saskatchewan, where several large mines have operated since the 1960s, pioneered the use of freezing of wet sands (the Blairmore formation) in order to drive mine shafts through them. The main potash mining company in Saskatchewan is the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. The water of the Dead Sea is used by Israel and Jordan as a source for potash, while the concentration in normal oceans is too low for commercial production(SONY VGP-BPS8 battery).
Mining and beneficiation waste heaps from potash mining in Germany, consisting mostly of sodium chloride.
Several methods are applied to separate the potassium salts from the present sodium and magnesium compounds. The most-used method is to precipitate some compounds relying on the solubility difference of the salts at different temperatures. Electrostatic separation of the ground salt mixture is also used in some mines(SONY VGP-BPS8A battery). The resulting sodium and magnesium waste is either stored underground or piled up in slag heaps. Most of the mined potassium minerals end up as potassium chloride after processing. The mineral industry refers to potassium chloride either as potash, muriate of potash, or simply MOP.
Pure potassium metal can be isolated by electrolysis of its hydroxide in a process that has changed little since Davy(SONY VGP-BPL8 battery). Although the electrolysis process was developed and used in industrial scale in the 1920s the thermal method by reacting sodium with potassium chloride in a chemical equilibrium reaction became the dominant method in the 1950s. The production of sodium potassium alloys is possible by changing the reaction time and the amount of sodium used in the reaction. The Griesheimer process employing the reaction of potassium fluoride with calcium carbide was also used to produce potassium. (SONY VGP-BPS9 battery)
Na + KCl → NaCl + K (Thermal method)
2 KF + CaC2 → 2K + CaF2 + 2 C (Griesheimer process)
Reagent-grade potassium metal cost about $10.00/pound ($22/kg) in 2010 when purchased in tonne quantities. Lower purity metal is considerably cheaper. The market is volatile due to the difficulty of the long-term storage of the metal. It must be stored under a dry inert gas atmosphere or anhydrous mineral oil to prevent the formation of a surface layer of potassium superoxide(SONY VGP-BPS9/S battery). This superoxide is a pressure-sensitive explosive that will detonate when scratched. The resulting explosion will usually start a fire that is difficult to extinguish.
Main article: Potassium in biology
Main article: Action potential
The action of the sodium-potassium pump is an example of primary active transport. The two carrier proteins on the left are using ATP to move sodium out of the cell against the concentration gradient. The proteins on the right are using secondary active transport to move potassium into the cell(SONY VGP-BPS9A battery).
Potassium is the eighth or ninth most common element by mass (0.2%) in the human body, so that a 60 kg adult contains a total of about 120 g of potassium. The body has about as much potassium as sulfur and chlorine, and only the major minerals calcium and phosphorus are more abundant. (SONY VGP-BPS9A/B battery)
Potassium cations are important in neuron (brain and nerve) function, and in influencing osmotic balance between cells and the interstitial fluid, with their distribution mediated in all animals (but not in all plants) by the so-called Na+/K+-ATPase pump. This ion pump uses ATP to pump three sodium ions out of the cell and two potassium ions into the cell(SONY VGP-BPS9/B battery), thus creating an electrochemical gradient over the cell membrane. In addition, the highly selective potassium ion channels (which are tetramers) are crucial for the hyperpolarization, in for example neurons, after an action potential is fired. The most recently resolved potassium ion channel is KirBac3.1, which gives a total of five potassium ion channels (KcsA, KirBac1.1, KirBac3.1, KvAP, and MthK) with a determined structure(SONY VGP-BPS9A/S battery). All five are from prokaryotic species.
Potassium can be detected by taste because it triggers three of the five types of taste sensations, according to concentration. Dilute solutions of potassium ions taste sweet, allowing moderate concentrations in milk and juices, while higher concentrations become increasingly bitter/alkaline, and finally also salty to the taste. The combined bitterness and saltiness of high-potassium solutions makes high-dose potassium supplementation by liquid drinks a palatability challenge. (SONY VGP-BPL9 battery)
Potassium is also important in preventing muscle contraction and the sending of all nerve impulses in animals through action potentials. By nature of their electrostatic and chemical properties, K+ ions are larger than Na+ ions, and ion channels and pumps in cell membranes can distinguish between the two types of ions, actively pumping or passively allowing one of the two ions to pass, while blocking the other. (SONY VGP-BPS10 battery)
A shortage of potassium in body fluids may cause a potentially fatal condition known as hypokalemia, typically resulting from vomiting, diarrhea, and/or increased diuresis. Deficiency symptoms include muscle weakness, paralytic ileus, ECG abnormalities, decreased reflex response and in severe cases respiratory paralysis, alkalosis and cardiac arrhythmia. (SONY VGP-BPL10 battery)
Filtration and excretion
Potassium is an essential mineral micronutrient in human nutrition; it is the major cation (positive ion) inside animal cells, and it is thus important in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Sodium makes up most of the cations of blood plasma at a reference range of about 145 mmol/L (3.345 g)(1mmol/L = 1mEq/L), and potassium makes up most of the cell fluid cations at about 150 mmol/L (4.8 g) (SONY VGP-BPS11 battery). Plasma is filtered through the glomerulus of the kidneys in enormous amounts, about 180 liters per day. Thus 602 g of sodium and 33 g of potassium are filtered each day. All but the 1–10 g of sodium and the 1–4 g of potassium likely to be in the diet must be reabsorbed. Sodium must be reabsorbed in such a way as to keep the blood volume exactly right and the osmotic pressure correct(SONY VGP-BPL11 battery); potassium must be reabsorbed in such a way as to keep serum concentration as close as possible to 4.8 mmol/L (about 0.190 g/L). Sodium pumps in the kidneys must always operate to conserve sodium. Potassium must sometimes be conserved also, but, as the amount of potassium in the blood plasma is very small and the pool of potassium in the cells is about thirty times as large(SONY VGP-BPL12 battery), the situation is not so critical for potassium. Since potassium is moved passively in counter flow to sodium in response to an apparent (but not actual) Donnan equilibrium, the urine can never sink below the concentration of potassium in serum except sometimes by actively excreting water at the end of the processing. Potassium is secreted twice and reabsorbed three times before the urine reaches the collecting tubules. At that point(SONY VGP-BPS12 battery), it usually has about the same potassium concentration as plasma. At the end of the processing, potassium is secreted one more time if the serum levels are too high.
If potassium were removed from the diet, there would remain a minimum obligatory kidney excretion of about 200 mg per day when the serum declines to 3.0–3.5 mmol/L in about one week, and can never be cut off completely, resulting in hypokalemia and even death(SONY VGP-BPS13 battery).
The potassium moves passively through pores in the cell membrane. When ions move through pumps there is a gate in the pumps on either side of the cell membrane and only one gate can be open at once. As a result, approximately 100 ions are forced through per second. Pores have only one gate, and there only one kind of ion can stream through(SONY VGP-BPS13Q battery), at 10 million to 100 million ions per second. The pores require calcium in order to open although it is thought that the calcium works in reverse by blocking at least one of the pores. Carbonyl groups inside the pore on the amino acids mimic the water hydration that takes place in water solution by the nature of the electrostatic charges on four carbonyl groups inside the pore(SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q battery).
A potassium intake sufficient to support life can in general be guaranteed by eating a variety of foods. Clear cases of potassium deficiency (as defined by symptoms, signs and a below-normal blood level of the element) are rare in healthy individuals. Foods rich in potassium include parsley, dried apricots, dried milk, chocolate, various nuts (especially almonds and pistachios) (SONY VGP-BPS13B/Q battery), potatoes, bamboo shoots, bananas, avocados, soybeans, and bran, although it is also present in sufficient quantities in most fruits, vegetables, meat and fish.
Epidemiological studies and studies in animals subject to hypertension indicate that diets high in potassium can reduce the risk of hypertension and possibly stroke (by a mechanism independent of blood pressure), and a potassium deficiency combined with an inadequate thiamine intake has produced heart disease in rats(SONY VGP-BPS13/B battery). There is some debate regarding the optimal amount of dietary potassium. For example, the 2004 guidelines of the Institute of Medicine specify a DRI of 4,000 mg of potassium (100 mEq), though most Americans consume only half that amount per day, which would make them formally deficient as regards this particular recommendation. Likewise, in the European Union, in particular in Germany and Italy, insufficient potassium intake is somewhat common(SONY VGP-BPS13B/B battery). Italian researchers reported in a 2011 meta-analysis that a 1.64 g higher daily intake of potassium was associated with a 21% lower risk of stroke.
Medical supplementation and disease
Supplements of potassium in medicine are most widely used in conjunction with loop diuretics and thiazides, classes of diuretics that rid the body of sodium and water, but have the side-effect of also causing potassium loss in urine. A variety of medical and non-medical supplements are available. Potassium salts such as potassium chloride may be dissolved in water(SONY VGP-BPS13A/S battery), but the salty/bitter taste of high concentrations of potassium ion make palatable high concentration liquid supplements difficult to formulate. Typical medical supplemental doses range from 10 mmol (400 mg, about equal to a cup of milk or 6 US fl oz (180 ml). of orange juice) to 20 mmol (800 mg) per dose. Potassium salts are also available in tablets or capsules(SONY VGP-BPS21A/B battery), which for therapeutic purposes are formulated to allow potassium to leach slowly out of a matrix, as very high concentrations of potassium ion (which might occur next to a solid tablet of potassium chloride) can kill tissue, and cause injury to the gastric or intestinal mucosa. For this reason, non-prescription supplement potassium pills are limited by law in the US to only 99 mg of potassium. (SONY VGP-BPS21B battery)
Individuals suffering from kidney diseases may suffer adverse health effects from consuming large quantities of dietary potassium. End stage renal failure patients undergoing therapy by renal dialysis must observe strict dietary limits on potassium intake, as the kidneys control potassium excretion, and buildup of blood concentrations of potassium (hyperkalemia) may trigger fatal cardiac arrhythmia(SONY VGP-BPS21 battery).
Potassium and magnesium sulfate fertilizer
Potassium ions are an essential component of plant nutrition and are found in most soil types. They are used as a fertilizer in agriculture, horticulture, and hydroponic culture in the form of chloride (KCl), sulfate (K2SO4), or nitrate (KNO3). Agricultural fertilizers consume 95% of global potassium chemical production, and about 90% of this potassium is supplied as KCl(SONY VGP-BPS21/S battery). The potassium content of most plants range from 0.5% to 2% of the harvested weight of crops, conventionally expressed as amount of K2O. Modern high-yield agriculture depends upon fertilizers to replace the potassium lost at harvest. Most agricultural fertilizers contain potassium chloride, while potassium sulfate is used for chloride-sensitive crops or crops needing higher sulfur content(SONY VGP-BPS13AS battery). The sulfate is produced mostly by decomposition of the complex minerals kainite (MgSO4·KCl·3H2O) and langbeinite (MgSO4·K2SO4). Only a very few fertilizers contain potassium nitrate. In 2005, about 93% of world potassium production was consumed by the fertilizer industry.
The potassium cation is a nutrient necessary for human life and health. Potassium chloride is used as a substitute for table salt by those seeking to reduce sodium intake so as to control hypertension(SONY VGP-BPS13S battery). The USDA lists tomato paste, orange juice, beet greens, white beans, potatoes, bananas and many other good dietary sources of potassium, ranked in descending order according to potassium content.
Potassium sodium tartrate (KNaC4H4O6, Rochelle salt) is the main constituent of baking powder; it is also used in the silvering of mirrors. Potassium bromate (KBrO3) is a strong oxidizer (E924), used to improve dough strength and rise height(SONY VGP-BPS13B/S battery). Potassium bisulfite (KHSO3) is used as a food preservative, for example in wine and beer-making (but not in meats). It is also used to bleach textiles and straw, and in the tanning of leathers.
Major potassium chemicals are potassium hydroxide, potassium carbonate, potassium sulfate, and potassium chloride. Megatons of these compounds are produced annually(SONY VGP-BPS13B/G battery).
Potassium hydroxide KOH is a strong base, which is used in industry to neutralize strong and weak acids, to control pH and to manufacture potassium salts. It is also used to saponify fats and oils, in industrial cleaners, and in hydrolysis reactions, for example of esters.
Potassium nitrate (KNO3) or saltpeter is obtained from natural sources such as guano and evaporites or manufactured via the Haber process(SONY VGP-BPS14 battery); it is the oxidant in gunpowder (black powder) and an important agricultural fertilizer. Potassium cyanide (KCN) is used industrially to dissolve copper and precious metals, in particular silver and gold, by forming complexes. Its applications include gold mining, electroplating, and electroforming of these metals; it is also used in organic synthesis to make nitriles(SONY VGP-BPL14 battery). Potassium carbonate (K2CO3 or potash) is used in the manufacture of glass, soap, color TV tubes, fluorescent lamps, textile dyes and pigments. Potassium permanganate (KMnO4) is an oxidizing, bleaching and purification substance and is used for production of saccharin. Potassium chlorate (KClO3) is added to matches and explosives. Potassium bromide (KBr) was formerly used as a sedative and in photography(SONY VGP-BPS14/B battery).
Potassium chromate (K2CrO4) is used in inks, dyes, stains (bright yellowish-red color); in explosives and fireworks; in the tanning of leather, in fly paper and safety matches, but all these uses are due to the properties of chromate ion containment rather than potassium ions(SONY VGP-BPS14/S battery).
Potassium compounds are so pervasive that thousands of small uses are in place. The superoxide KO2 is an orange solid that acts as a portable source of oxygen and a carbon dioxide absorber. It is widely used in respiration systems in mines, submarines and spacecraft as it takes less volume than the gaseous oxygen.
4 KO2 + 2 CO2 → 2 K2CO3 + 3 O2
Potassium cobaltinitrite K3[Co(NO2)6] is used as artist's pigment under the name of Aureolin or Cobalt yellow. (SONY VGP-BPS14B battery)
An alloy of sodium and potassium, NaK is a liquid used as a heat-transfer medium and a desiccant for producing dry and air-free solvents. It can also be used in reactive distillation. The ternary alloy of 12% Na, 47% K and 41% Cs has the lowest melting point of −78 °C of any metallic compound.
Metallic potassium is used in several types of magnetometers(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery).
A reaction of potassium metal with water. Hydrogen is liberated that burns with a pink or lilac flame, the flame color owing to burning potassium vapor. Strongly alkaline potassium hydroxide is formed in solution.
Potassium reacts very violently with water producing potassium hydroxide (KOH) and hydrogen gas.
2 K (s) + 2 H2O (l) → 2 KOH (aq) + H2↑ (g) (SONY VGP-BPS22 battery)
This reaction is exothermic and releases enough heat to ignite the resulting hydrogen. It in turn may explode in the presence of oxygen. Potassium hydroxide is a strong alkali that causes skin burns. Finely divided potassium will ignite in air at room temperature. The bulk metal will ignite in air if heated. Because its density is 0.89 g/cm3, burning potassium floats in water that exposes it to atmospheric oxygen(SONY VGP-BPS18 battery). Many common fire extinguishing agents, including water, either are ineffective or make a potassium fire worse. Nitrogen, argon, Sodium chloride (table salt), sodium carbonate (soda ash), and silicon dioxide (sand) are effective if they are dry. Some Class D dry powder extinguishers designed for metal fires are also effective. These agents deprive the fire of oxygen and cool the potassium metal(SONY VGP-BPS22/A battery).
Potassium reacts violently with halogens and will detonate in the presence of bromine. It also reacts explosively with sulfuric acid. During combustion potassium forms peroxides and superoxides. These peroxides may react violently with organic compounds such as oils. Both peroxides and superoxides may react explosively with metallic potassium(SONY VGP-BPS22A battery).
Because potassium reacts with water vapor present in the air, it is usually stored under anhydrous mineral oil or kerosene. Unlike lithium and sodium, however, potassium should not be stored under oil for longer than 6 months, unless in an inert (oxygen free) atmosphere, or under vacuum. After prolonged storage in air dangerous shock-sensitive peroxides can form on the metal and under the lid of the container, and can detonate upon opening(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/W battery).
Because of the highly reactive nature of potassium metal, it must be handled with great care, with full skin and eye protection and preferably an explosion-resistant barrier between the user and the metal. Ingestion of large amounts of potassium compounds can lead to hyperkalemia strongly influencing the cardiovascular system. Potassium chloride is used in the United States for death penalty via lethal injection(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/R battery).
Calcium ( /ˈkælsiəm/ kal-see-əm) is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust. Calcium is also the fifth-most-abundant dissolved ion in seawater by both molarity and mass, after sodium, chloride, magnesium, and sulfate(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/P battery).
Calcium is essential for living organisms, in particular in cell physiology, where movement of the calcium ion Ca2+ into and out of the cytoplasm functions as a signal for many cellular processes. As a major material used in mineralization of bones and shells, calcium is the most abundant metal by mass in many animals(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E/L battery).
Flame test. Brick-red color originates from calcium.
In chemical terms, calcium is reactive and soft for a metal (though harder than lead, it can be cut with a knife with difficulty). It is a silvery metallic element that must be extracted by electrolysis from a fused salt like calcium chloride. Once produced, it rapidly forms a gray-white oxide and nitride coating when exposed to air. In bulk form (typically as chips or "turnings"), the metal is somewhat difficult to ignite(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120E battery), more so even than magnesium chips; but, when lit, the metal burns in air with a brilliant high-intensity orange-red light. Calcium metal reacts with water, evolving hydrogen gas at a rate rapid enough to be noticeable, but not fast enough at room temperature to generate much heat. In powdered form, however, the reaction with water is extremely rapid, as the increased surface area of the powder accelerates the reaction with the water(SONY Vaio VGN-CR120 battery). Part of the slowness of the calcium-water reaction results from the metal being partly protected by insoluble white calcium hydroxide. In water solutions of acids, where this salt is soluble, calcium reacts vigorously.
Calcium, with a density of 1.55 g/cm3, is the lightest of the alkaline earth metals; magnesium (specific gravity 1.74) and beryllium (1.84) are more dense, although lighter in atomic mass. From strontium onward, the alkali earth metals become more dense with increasing atomic mass(SONY Vaio VGN-CR11H/B battery).
It has two allotropes.
Calcium has a higher electrical resistivity than copper or aluminium, yet weight-for-weight, due to its much lower density, it is a rather better conductor than either. However, its use in terrestrial applications is usually limited by its high reactivity with air.
Calcium salts are colorless from any contribution of the calcium, and ionic solutions of calcium (Ca2+) are colorless as well. As with magnesium salts and other alkaline earth metal salts, calcium salts are often quite soluble in water(SONY Vaio VGN-CR116E battery). Notable exceptions include the hydroxide, the sulfate (unusual for sulfate salts), the carbonate and the phosphates. With the exception of the sulfate, even the insoluble ones listed are in general more soluble than its transition metal counterparts. When in solution, the calcium ion to the human taste varies remarkably, being reported as mildly salty, sour, "mineral like" or even "soothing." It is apparent that many animals can taste, or develop a taste(SONY Vaio VGN-CR116 battery), for calcium, and use this sense to detect the mineral in salt licks or other sources. In human nutrition, soluble calcium salts may be added to tart juices without much effect to the average palate.
Calcium is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the human body, where it is a common cellular ionic messenger with many functions, and serves also as a structural element in bone(SONY Vaio VGN-CR115E battery). It is the relatively high-atomic-number calcium in the skeleton that causes bone to be radio-opaque. Of the human body's solid components after drying and burning of organics (as for example, after cremation), about a third of the total "mineral" mass remaining, is the approximately one kilogram of calcium that composes the average skeleton (the remainder being mostly phosphorus and oxygen) (SONY Vaio VGN-CR115 battery).
H and K lines
Visible spectra of many stars, including the Sun, exhibit strong absorption lines of singly ionized calcium. Prominent among these are the H-line at 3968.5 Å and the K line at 3933.7 Å of singly ionized calcium, or Ca II. For the Sun and stars with low temperatures, the prominence of the H and K lines can be an indication of strong magnetic activity in the chromosphere(SONY Vaio VGN-CR110EW battery). Measurement of periodic variations of these active regions can also be used to deduce the rotation periods of these stars.
Calcium, combined with phosphate to form hydroxylapatite, is the mineral portion of human and animal bones and teeth. The mineral portion of some corals can also be transformed into hydroxylapatite.
Calcium hydroxide (slaked lime) is used in many chemical refinery processes and is made by heating limestone at high temperature (above 825 °C) and then carefully adding water to it(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11S battery). When lime is mixed with sand, it hardens into a mortar and is turned into plaster by carbon dioxide uptake. Mixed with other compounds, lime forms an important part of Portland cement.
Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is one of the common compounds of calcium. It is heated to form quicklime (CaO), which is then added to water (H2O). This forms another material known as slaked lime (Ca(OH)2), which is an inexpensive base material used throughout the chemical industry. Chalk, marble, and limestone are all forms of calcium carbonate(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15T battery).
When water percolates through limestone or other soluble carbonate rocks, it partially dissolves the rock and causes cave formation and characteristic stalactites and stalagmites and also forms hard water. Other important calcium compounds are calcium nitrate, calcium sulfide, calcium chloride, calcium carbide, calcium cyanamide and calcium hypochlorite.
A few calcium compounds in the oxidation state +1 have also been investigated recently(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15G battery).
This section requires expansion with:
information on other calcium isotopes.
Calcium-40 is created in extremely large and hot (over 2.5 × 109 K) stars, as part of the silicon-burning process in which alpha particles are added to silicon atoms. The process fuses an atom of argon and an atom of helium:
36Ar + 4He = 40Ca
Main article: Isotopes of calcium
Calcium has four stable isotopes (40Ca, 42Ca, 43Ca and 44Ca), plus two more isotopes (46Ca and 48Ca) that have such long half-lives that for all practical purposes they also can be considered stable(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11L battery). The 20% range in relative mass among naturally occurring calcium isotopes is greater than for any element except hydrogen and helium. Calcium also has a cosmogenic isotope, radioactive 41Ca, which has a half-life of 103,000 years. Unlike cosmogenic isotopes that are produced in the atmosphere, 41Ca is produced by neutron activation of 40Ca. Most of its production is in the upper metre or so of the soil column(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11Z battery), where the cosmogenic neutron flux is still sufficiently strong. 41Ca has received much attention in stellar studies because it decays to 41K, a critical indicator of solar-system anomalies.
Ninety-seven percent of naturally occurring calcium is in the form of 40Ca. 40Ca is one of the daughter products of 40K decay, along with 40Ar. While K-Ar dating has been used extensively in the geological sciences, the prevalence of 40Ca in nature has impeded its use in dating. Techniques using mass spectrometry and a double spike isotope dilution have been used for K-Ca age dating(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11M battery).
The most abundant isotope, 40Ca, has a nucleus of 20 protons and 20 neutrons. This is the heaviest stable isotope of any element that has equal numbers of protons and neutrons. In supernova explosions, calcium is formed from the reaction of carbon with various numbers of alpha particles (helium nuclei), until the most common calcium isotope (containing 10 helium nuclei) has been synthesized. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18M battery)
As with the isotopes of other elements, a variety of processes fractionate, or alter the relative abundance of, calcium isotopes. The best studied of these processes is the mass dependent fractionation of calcium isotopes that accompanies the precipitation of calcium minerals, such as calcite, aragonite and apatite, from solution. Isotopically light calcium is preferentially incorporated into minerals(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18 battery), leaving the solution from which the mineral precipitated enriched in isotopically heavy calcium. At room temperature the magnitude of this fractionation is roughly 0.25‰ (0.025%) per atomic mass unit (AMU). Mass-dependent differences in calcium isotope composition conventionally are expressed the ratio of two isotopes (usually 44Ca/40Ca) in a sample compared to the same ratio in a standard reference material(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ210CE battery). 44Ca/40Ca varies by about 1% among common earth materials.
Calcium isotope fractionation during mineral formation has led to several applications of calcium isotopes. In particular, the 1997 observation by Skulan and DePaolo that calcium minerals are isotopically lighter than the solutions from which the minerals precipitate is the basis of analogous applications in medicine and in paleooceanography(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31S battery). In animals with skeletons mineralized with calcium the calcium isotopic composition of soft tissues reflects the relative rate of formation and dissolution of skeletal mineral. In humans changes in the calcium isotopic composition of urine have been shown to be related to changes in bone mineral balance. When the rate of bone formation exceeds the rate of bone resorption, soft tissue 44Ca/40Ca rises(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31Z battery). Soft tissue 44Ca/40Ca falls when bone resorption exceeds bone formation. Because of this relationship, calcium isotopic measurements of urine or blood may be useful in the early detection of metabolic bone diseases like osteoporosis.
A similar system exists in the ocean, where seawater 44Ca/40Ca tends to rise when the rate of removal of Ca2+ from seawater by mineral precipitation exceeds the input of new calcium into the ocean, and fall when calcium input exceeds mineral precipitation(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31E battery). It follows that rising 44Ca/40Ca corresponds to falling seawater Ca2+ concentration, and falling 44Ca/40Ca corresponds to rising seawater Ca2+ concentration. In 1997 Skulan and DePaolo presented the first evidence of change in seawater 44Ca/40Ca over geologic time, along with a theoretical explanation of these changes. More recent papers have confirmed this observation, demonstrating that seawater Ca2+ concentration is not constant(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31J battery), and that the ocean probably never is in “steady state” with respect to its calcium input and output. This has important climatological implications, as the marine calcium cycle is closely tied to the carbon cycle (see below).
Calcium provides an important link between tectonics, climate and the carbon cycle. In the simplest terms, uplift of mountains exposes Ca-bearing rocks to chemical weathering and releases Ca2+ into surface water(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31M battery). This Ca2+ eventually is transported to the ocean where it reacts with dissolved CO2 to form limestone. Some of this limestone settles to the sea floor where it is incorporated into new rocks. Dissolved CO2, along with carbonate and bicarbonate ions, are referred to as dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC).
Travertine terraces Pamukkale, Turkey
The actual reaction is more complicated and involves the bicarbonate ion (HCO3-) that forms when CO2 reacts with water at seawater pH(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31B battery):
Ca2+ + 2HCO−
3 → CaCO3 (limestone) + CO2 + H2O
Note that at ocean pH most of the CO2 produced in this reaction is immediately converted back into HCO3−. The reaction results in a net transport of one molecule of CO2 from the ocean/atmosphere into the lithosphere.
The result is that each Ca2+ ion released by chemical weathering ultimately removes one CO2 molecule from the surficial system (atmosphere, ocean, soils and living organisms), storing it in carbonate rocks where it is likely to stay for hundreds of millions of years(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ32 battery). The weathering of calcium from rocks thus scrubs CO2 from the ocean and atmosphere, exerting a strong long-term effect on climate. Analogous cycles involving magnesium, and to a much smaller extent strontium and barium, have the same effect.
As the weathering of limestone (CaCO3) liberates equimolar amounts of Ca2+ and CO2, it has no net effect on the CO2 content of the atmosphere and ocean(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ410 battery). The weathering of silicate rocks like granite, on the other hand, is a net CO2 sink because it produces abundant Ca2+ but very little CO2.
Lime as building material was used since prehistoric times going as far back as 7000 to 14000 BC. The first dated lime kiln dates back to 2500 BC and was found in Khafajah mesopotamia. Calcium (from Latin calx, genitive calcis, meaning "lime") was known as early as the first century when the Ancient Romans prepared lime as calcium oxide(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21 battery). Literature dating back to 975 AD notes that plaster of paris (calcium sulfate), is useful for setting broken bones. It was not isolated until 1808 in England when Sir Humphry Davy electrolyzed a mixture of lime and mercuric oxide. Davy was trying to isolate calcium; when he heard that Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius and Pontin prepared calcium amalgam by electrolyzing lime in mercury, he tried it himself(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21S battery). He worked with electrolysis throughout his life and also discovered/isolated sodium, potassium, magnesium, boron and barium. Calcium metal was not available in large scale until the beginning of the 20th century.
See also Category: Calcium minerals
Calcium is not naturally found in its elemental state. Calcium occurs most commonly in sedimentary rocks in the minerals calcite, dolomite and gypsum. It also occurs in igneous and metamorphic rocks chiefly in the silicate minerals: plagioclases, amphiboles, pyroxenes and garnets(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21M battery).
Calcium is used
as a reducing agent in the extraction of other metals, such as uranium, zirconium, and thorium.
as a deoxidizer, desulfurizer, or decarbonizer for various ferrous and nonferrous alloys.
as an alloying agent used in the production of aluminium, beryllium, copper, lead, and magnesium alloys.
in the making of cements and mortars to be used in construction.
in the making of cheese, where calcium ions influence the activity of rennin in bringing about the coagulation of milk(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ38M battery).
See also Category: Calcium compounds
Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is used in manufacturing cement and mortar, lime, limestone (usually used in the steel industry) and aids in production in the glass industry. It also has chemical and optical uses as mineral specimens in toothpastes, for example.
Calcium hydroxide solution (Ca(OH)2) (also known as limewater) is used to detect the presence of carbon dioxide by being bubbled through a solution. It turns cloudy where CO2 is present(Sony VAIO VGN-S battery).
Calcium arsenate (Ca3(AsO4)2) is used in insecticides.
Calcium carbide (CaC2) is used to make acetylene gas (for use in acetylene torches for welding) and in the manufacturing of plastics.
Calcium chloride (CaCl2) is used in ice removal and dust control on dirt roads, in conditioner for concrete, as an additive in canned tomatoes, and to provide body for automobile tires.
Calcium cyclamate (Ca(C6H11NHSO3)2) was used as a sweetening agent but is no longer permitted for use because of suspected cancer-causing properties(Sony VAIO VGN-SZ battery).
Calcium gluconate (Ca(C6H11O7)2) is used as a food additive and in vitamin pills.
Calcium hypochlorite (Ca(OCl)2) is used as a swimming pool disinfectant, as a bleaching agent, as an ingredient in deodorant, and in algaecide and fungicide.
Calcium permanganate (Ca(MnO4)2) is used in liquid rocket propellant, textile production, as a water sterilizing agent and in dental procedures.
Calcium phosphate (Ca3(PO4)2) is used as a supplement for animal feed, fertiliz
Calcium phosphide (Ca3P2) is used in fireworks, rodenticide, torpedoes and flares.
Calcium stearate (Ca(C18H35O2)2) is used in the manufacture of wax crayons, cements, certain kinds of plastics and cosmetics, as a food additive, in the production of water resistant materials and in the production of paints.
Calcium sulfate (CaSO4·2H2O) is used as common blackboard chalk, as well as, in its hemihydrate form better known as Plaster of Paris(Sony VGN-NR11M/S Battery).
Calcium tungstate (CaWO4) is used in luminous paints, fluorescent lights and in X-ray studies.
Hydroxylapatite (Ca5(PO4)3(OH), but is usually written Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2) makes up seventy percent of bone. Also carbonated-calcium deficient hydroxylapatite is the main mineral of which dental enamel and dentin are comprised.
Calcium is an important component of a healthy diet and a mineral necessary for life. The National Osteoporosis Foundation says, "Calcium plays an important role in building stronger(Sony VGN-NR11Z/S Battery), denser bones early in life and keeping bones strong and healthy later in life." Approximately 99 percent of the body's calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. The rest of the calcium in the body has other important uses, such as some exocytosis, especially neurotransmitter release, and muscle contraction. In the electrical conduction system of the heart, calcium replaces sodium as the mineral that depolarizes the cell(Sony VGN-NR11Z/T Battery), proliferating the action potential. In cardiac muscle, sodium influx commences an action potential, but during potassium efflux, the cardiac myocyte experiences calcium influx, prolonging the action potential and creating a plateau phase of dynamic equilibrium. Long-term calcium deficiency can lead to rickets and poor blood clotting and in case of a menopausal woman, it can lead to osteoporosis(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21E battery), in which the bone deteriorates and there is an increased risk of fractures. While a lifelong deficit can affect bone and tooth formation, over-retention can cause hypercalcemia (elevated levels of calcium in the blood), impaired kidney function and decreased absorption of other minerals. Several sources suggest a correlation between high calcium intake (2000 mg per day, or twice the U.S. recommended daily allowance(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21Z battery), equivalent to six or more glasses of milk per day) and prostate cancer. High calcium intakes or high calcium absorption were previously thought to contribute to the development of kidney stones. However, a high calcium intake has been associated with a lower risk for kidney stones in more recent research. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21J battery).
Dairy products, such as milk and cheese, are a well-known source of calcium. Some individuals are allergic to dairy products and even more people, in particular those of non Indo-European descent, are lactose-intolerant, leaving them unable to consume non-fermented dairy products in quantities larger than about half a liter per serving. Others, such as vegans, avoid dairy products for ethical and health reasons(Sony VAIO VGN-FW11 battery).
Many good sources of calcium exist, including seaweeds such as kelp, wakame and hijiki; nuts and seeds like almonds, hazelnuts, sesame, pistachio; blackstrap molasses; beans; figs; quinoa; okra; rutabaga; broccoli; dandelion leaves; kale; and fortified products such as orange juice and soy milk(Sony VAIO VGN-FW11M battery).
Numerous vegetables, notably spinach, chard and rhubarb have a high calcium content, but they may also contain varying amounts of oxalic acid that binds calcium and reduces its absorption. The same problem may to a degree affect the absorption of calcium from amaranth, collard greens, chicory greens. This process may also be related to the generation of calcium oxalate(Sony VAIO VGN-FW11S battery).
An overlooked source of calcium is eggshell, which can be ground into a powder and mixed into food or a glass of water.
The calcium content of most foods can be found in the USDA National Nutrient Database.
Dietary calcium supplements
500 milligram calcium supplements made from calcium carbonate
Calcium supplements are used to prevent and to treat calcium deficiencies. Most experts recommend that supplements be taken with food and that no more than 600 mg should be taken at a time because the percent of calcium absorbed decreases as the amount of calcium in the supplement increases(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21E battery). It is recommended to spread doses throughout the day. Recommended daily calcium intake for adults ranges from 1000 to 1500 mg. It is recommended to take supplements with food to aid in absorption.
Vitamin D is added to some calcium supplements. Proper vitamin D status is important because vitamin D is converted to a hormone in the body, which then induces the synthesis of intestinal proteins responsible for calcium absorption(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21J battery).
The absorption of calcium from most food and commonly used dietary supplements is very similar. This is contrary to what many calcium supplement manufacturers claim in their promotional materials.
Milk is an excellent source of dietary calcium for those whose bodies tolerate it because it has a high concentration of calcium and the calcium in milk is excellently absorbed.
Soymilk and other vegetable milks are usually sold with calcium added so that their calcium concentration is as high as in milk(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21L battery)
Also different kind of juices boosted with calcium are widely available.
Calcium carbonate is the most common and least expensive calcium supplement. It should be taken with food. It depends on low pH levels for proper absorption in the intestine. Some studies suggests that the absorption of calcium from calcium carbonate is similar to the absorption of calcium from milk. While most people digest calcium carbonate very well(Sony VAIO VGN-FW41M battery), some might develop gastrointestinal discomfort or gas. Taking magnesium with it can help to avoid constipation. Calcium carbonate is 40% elemental calcium. 1000 mg will provide 400 mg of calcium. However, supplement labels will usually indicate how much calcium is present in each serving, not how much calcium carbonate is present.
Antacids frequently contain calcium carbonate, and are a commonly used, inexpensive calcium supplement(Sony VAIO VGN-FW41M/H battery)
Coral calcium is a salt of calcium derived from fossilized coral reefs. Coral calcium is composed of calcium carbonate and trace minerals.
Calcium citrate can be taken without food and is the supplement of choice for individuals with achlorhydria or who are taking histamine-2 blockers or proton-pump inhibitors.Calcium citrate is about 21% elemental calcium. 1000 mg will provide 210 mg of calcium. It is more expensive than calcium carbonate and more of it must be taken to get the same amount of calcium(Sony VAIO VGN-FW21M battery).
Calcium phosphate costs more than calcium carbonate, but less than calcium citrate. Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite (MH) is one of several forms of calcium phosphate used as a dietary supplement. Hydroxyapatite is about 40% calcium.
Calcium lactate has similar absorption as calcium carbonate, but is more expensive. Calcium lactate and calcium gluconate are less concentrated forms of calcium and are not practical oral supplements. (Sony VAIO VGN-FW21Z battery)
Calcium chelates are synthetic calcium compounds, with calcium bound to an organic molecule, such as malate, aspartate, or fumarate. These forms of calcium may be better absorbed on an empty stomach. However, in general they are absorbed similarly to calcium carbonate and other common calcium supplements when taken with food(Sony VAIO VGN-FW32J battery). The 'chelate' mimics the action that natural food performs by keeping the calcium soluble in the intestine. Thus, on an empty stomach, in some individuals, chelates might, in theory, be absorbed better.
In July 2006, a report citing research from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington claimed that women in their 50s gained 5 pounds (2.3 kg) less in a period of 10 years by taking more than 500 mg of calcium supplements than those who did not(Sony VAIO VGN-FW17W battery). However, the doctor in charge of the study, Dr. Alejandro J. Gonzalez also noted it would be "going out on a limb" to suggest calcium supplements as a weight-limiting aid.
Prevention of fractures due to osteoporosis
Such studies often do not test calcium alone, but rather combinations of calcium and vitamin D. Randomized controlled trials found both positive and negative effects. The different results may be explained by doses of calcium and underlying rates of calcium supplementation in the control groups(Sony VAIO VGN-FW31E battery). However, it is clear that increasing the intake of calcium promotes deposition of calcium in the bones, where it is of more benefit in preventing the compression fractures resulting from the osteoporotic thinning of the dendritic web of the bodies of the vertebrae, than it is at preventing the more serious cortical bone fractures that happen at hip and wrist. (Sony VAIO VGN-FW139E battery)
Possible cancer prevention
A meta-analysis by the international Cochrane Collaboration of two randomized controlled trials found that calcium "might contribute to a moderate degree to the prevention of adenomatous colonic polyps".
More recent studies were conflicting, and one that was positive for effect (Lappe, et al.) did control for a possible anti-carcinogenic effect of vitamin D, which was found to be an independent positive influence from calcium-alone on cancer risk (see second study below) (Sony VAIO VGN-FW139E/H battery).
A randomized controlled trial found that 1000 mg of elemental calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D3 had no effect on colorectal cancer
A randomized controlled trial found that 1400–1500 mg supplemental calcium and 1100 IU vitamin D3 reduced aggregated cancers with a relative risk of 0.402.
An observational cohort study found that high calcium and vitamin D intake was associated with "lower risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer." (Sony VAIO VGN-FW31M battery)
Hazards and toxicity
Compared with other metals, the calcium ion and most calcium compounds have low toxicity. This is not surprising given the very high natural abundance of calcium compounds in the environment and in organisms. Calcium poses few serious environmental problems, with kidney stones the most common side-effect in clinical studies. Acute calcium poisoning is rare, and difficult to achieve unless calcium compounds are administered intravenously(Sony VAIO VGN-FW31J battery). For example, the oral median lethal dose (LD50) for rats for calcium carbonate and calcium chloride are 6.45  and 1.4 g/kg, respectively.
Calcium metal is hazardous because of its sometimes-violent reactions with water and acids. Calcium metal is found in some drain cleaners, where it functions to generate heat and calcium hydroxide that saponifies the fats and liquefies the proteins (e.g., hair) that block drains(Sony VAIO VGN-FW31Z battery). When swallowed calcium metal has the same effect on the mouth, esophagus and stomach, and can be fatal.
Excessive consumption of calcium carbonate antacids/dietary supplements (such as Tums) over a period of weeks or months can cause milk-alkali syndrome, with symptoms ranging from hypercalcemia to potentially fatal renal failure. What constitutes “excessive” consumption is not well known and, it is presumed, varies a great deal from person to person(Sony VGN-NR11Z Battery). Persons consuming more than 10 grams/day of CaCO3 (=4 g Ca) are at risk of developing milk-alkali syndrome, but the condition has been reported in at least one person consuming only 2.5 grams/day of CaCO3 (=1 g Ca), an amount usually considered moderate and safe(Sony VGN-NR11S Battery).
Oral calcium supplements diminish the absorption of thyroxine when taken within four to six hours of each other. Thus, people taking both calcium and thyroxine run the risk of inadequate thyroid hormone replacement and thence hypothyroidism if they take them simultaneously or near-simultaneously(Sony VGN-CR11Z Battery).