Calcium, Weight Loss & Fat Loss


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Researchers at the CU-Health Sciences Center’s Center for Human Nutrition reported recently that calcium may help control body weight, confirming findings from other studies. The report, published in February’s International Journal of Obesity, is the first study in humans to demonstrate a mechanistic link between calcium intake and body weight.

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Edward Melanson, PhD, and James Hill, PhD, examined diet data from 35 healthy, non-obese adults during a 24-hour period and measured their daily energy expenditures. They found that those individuals who consumed more calcium used more fat as fuel compared to those with lower calcium intakes.

The idea that calcium intake may be related to body weight has been supported by several studies in the past decade. Studies in rats and mice suggest that higher calcium intake alters the metabolism of fat cells, causing less fat to be stored and more fat to be released. Whether this also occurs in humans was not known.

Correlation Between Calcium and Fat Loss

The new report suggests calcium also may help control body weight in humans by increasing the amount of fat that the body uses for fuel. “It is encouraging to find that there is a correlation between the amount of fat used and the amount of calcium consumed,” Dr. Melanson said.

He cautioned, however, that more research is needed in humans before any firm conclusions can be made about calcium’s effect on body weight or whether increasing calcium intake without changing other aspects of the diet actually increases the amount of fat used.

“The current RDA is 1,000 milligrams a day, and this RDA is a little higher for adolescents, young adults and pregnant or lactating women,” Dr. Melanson said. “A glass of milk, a cup of yogurt, or a serving of cheese contains approximately 300 milligrams, so three servings of dairy per day should be a good goal.”

According to Dr. Melanson, the average American typically consumes only 600- 700 milligrams of calcium per day, and many are well below that level.

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