The significance of calcium soap formation in the inhibition of calcium absorption has been studied in rats. 47Ca labelled soaps of fatty acids were introduced into the duodenum and the absorption of calcium measured after four hours in a whole body counter. The absorption of calcium was inversely correlated with the chain length of the fatty acid varying from 1% for Ca-stearate to 60% for Ca-hexanoate. Increasing the degree of unsaturation of the fatty acid was accompanied by increased calcium absorption. The availability of calcium for absorption from the soaps was correlated with their solubility in 1% aqueous Na-tauroglycocholate. The percentages of calcium as soap in the small intestine and the faeces after intragastric administration of calcium and fats were similar, which suggests that the faecal content of calcium soaps is an index of intestinal soap formation. Soap formation was negligible when CaCl2 was given with tristearate, triolaeate, or tridecanoate and no depression of calcium absorption was observed. Calcium absorption was markedly impaired by the addition of phosphates at a Ca/P ratio of 1:1 irrespective of the presence of neutral fats. Stearic acid resulted in significant soap formation and reduced calcium absorption. The degree of Ca-soap formation and the inhibition of calcium absorption were well correlated. The results suggest that, although calcium soap formation may markedly depress calcium absorption in the rat, no significant soap formation takes place when fats are given in the form of triglycerides.
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