Calcium - A Weight Loss Tool
While calcium’s bone-protective benefits have been long-established, calcium’s obesity-protective benefit has only recently been identified. For the past decade, studies have established that high calcium intake can reduce the risk of obesity and assist in making weight loss regimens more effective. In 2003, a researcher estimated that with each 300 mg increment in regular calcium intake there is an associated 1 kg less body fat in children and 2.5–3.0 kg lower body weight in adults.1
Nonetheless, calcium’s role in maintaining healthy body weight remains controversial. Consider other recent studies' conclusions:
- Higher dairy calcium intake and increase serum vitamin D are related to greater diet-induced weight loss.2
- A diet rich in dairy calcium enhances weight reduction in Type 2 diabetics.3
- Calcium plus cholecalciferol supplementation has a small effect on the prevention of weight gain - observed primarily in women who reported inadequate calcium intakes.4
- Weight and fat weight loss resulting from 9 months of moderate intensity exercise may be improved by increased calcium consumption in men, but the same was not observed in women.5
- Calcium and vitamin D consumption during weight-loss intervention enhanced the beneficial effect of body weight loss on the lipid and lipoprotein profile in overweight or obese women with usual low daily calcium intake.6
- Results showed that among 1,306 young adult male and female blacks and whites aged 19 to 38, eating higher amounts of calcium-rich foods—including low-fat dairy foods—was inversely associated with abdominal fat for young white males only.7
According to a recent USDA survey, average calcium intake by women aged 20 and older was only 771 milligrams per day, and the intake by men aged 50 and older was less than 866 milligrams per day.8 Clearly, as compared to the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (“RDA”), many Americans are not getting adequate calcium intake through diet alone or with supplements.
Over 33% of the U.S. adult population is obese, and the statistics are worsening. While appetite, exercise, heredity, food availability, social setting and other factors influence body weight, improving calcium intake through diet or supplementation is a strategy to consider. For the average American woman, an improvement of 200 – 500 mg of calcium per day is recommended.
- Robert Heaney, “Normalizing Calcium Intake: Projected Population Effects for Body Weight,” Journal of Nutrition January 2003: 268-270.
- Danit R. Shahar, et al, "Dairy calcium intake, serum vitamin D, and successful weight loss," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition September 2010: 1017-22.
- Danit R. Shahar, et al, “Does Dairy Calcium Intake Enhance Weight Loss Among Overweight Diabetic Patients?," Diabetes Care March 2007: 485-489.
- Bette Caan, et al., “Calcium Plus Vitamin D Supplementation and the Risk of Postmenopausal Weight Gain,” Archives of Internal Medicine May 14, 2007: 893-902.
- Bruce W. Bailey, et al., “The Influence of Calcium Consumption on Weight and Fat Following 9 Months of Exercise in Men and Women,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition August 2007: 350-355.
- Geneviève C Major, et al., “Supplementation with calcium + vitamin D enhances the beneficial effect of weight loss on plasma lipid and lipoprotein concentrations,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition January 2007: 54 - 59.
- B.M. Brooks, et al., “Association of Calcium Intake, Dairy Product Consumption with Overweight Status in Young Adults (1995 - 1996): The Bogalusa Heart Study,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition December 2006: 523 - 532.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 2007. Nutrient Intakes from Food: Mean Amounts Consumed per Individual, One Day, 2003-2004.