As we all know, calcium plays an important role in the protection and production of the body’s teeth and bones. An important question, we as nutritionists are wondering is, can calcium help with weight maintenance, weight loss, and obesity? We looked at several studies based on this question.
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The first study looked at the effects of weight, loss of a high-calcium energy, reduced diet on the biomarkers of inflammatory stress, fibrinolysis, and endothelial function in obese subjects. There were 35 subjects who lost at least 3% of initial body weight involved in this study. The study lasted a total of 16 weeks. The subjects were split up into two groups. One group was the high-calcium diet (HCD) group and the other was the low-calcium diet (LCD) group (Torres, M. R. S. G., and Sanjuliani, A. F., 2013). The HCD group was measured in a calcium intake of 1,200 – 1,300 mg/day, whereas the LCD group was measured in a calcium intake of less than 500 mg/day. Both on the diets followed the same intake for protein (22%), fat (28%), carbohydrates (50%), and 19 grams of fiber. The only difference in the diets was the HCD group received 60 grams/day of a non-fat powdered milk. The results indicated that those on the HCD had a greater reduction in the waist to hip ratio and waist circumference. Both groups had similar reductions in the biomarkers. Therefore, an HCD helped to reduce waist circumference, but had no benefit in the biomarkers of inflammation, fibrinolysis, and endothelial function. According to this study, there seems to be a need for further research on the effectiveness of increased calcium in the diet and its correlation to weight loss and weight management (Torres, M. R. S. G., and Sanjuliani, A. F., 2013).
Calcium plays a major role in accelerating fat and weight loss, especially in overweight and obese adults with calcium deficiency (Zhu et al., 2013). The authors of this second study looked at calcium and vitamin D supplements among overweight and obese college students to prevent fat storage and improve metabolic functions. In their randomized control study, 53 adults participated in the study and they were assigned 600 milligrams of calcium with 125 IU of vitamin D. The study was 12 weeks long to determine the effectiveness of supplementation in weight management, and involved a control group. The results showed that the calcium and vitamin D group had a decreased body fat and visceral fat level, but no changes in weight when compared to the control group. These findings suggest that the weight loss program can motivate adults to lose body fat along with further restrictions. It seems that further research is needed to address the dosage of calcium and vitamin D supplements in promoting weight management among adults (Zhu et al., 2013).
A systematic review conducted by Onakpoya, Perry, Zhang and Ernst (2011) looked at calcium supplementation as it relates to weight loss. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are commonly used dietary supplements and may influence weight loss. The investigators electronically searched for randomized, double-blind, placebo control studies in their review. A total of 729 participants could be included in this review. A forest plot of the seven main randomized control trials used in this review demonstrated that a small, significantly greater reduction in body fat was associated with calcium as it was compared with a placebo (Onakpoya, Perry, Zhang, Ernst, 2011). The researchers determined that the effect of calcium supplementation is small and not clinically relevant because less than 5% of total body weight at baseline was lost with calcium supplementation (Onakpoya Perry, Zhang, Ernst, 2011). This review shows that calcium supplementation for at least six months can have a small effect on weight loss, however, the researchers warn that the information obtained from the studies may not be completely accurate. The good news is, no adverse effects from calcium supplementation were reported in any of the randomized control trials (Onakpoya, Perry, Zhang, Ernst, 2011). It appears supplementing with calcium at recommended dietary intakes may help in weight loss but it is not a miracle drug.
According to the three articles mentioned above, calcium does not seem to be a significant factor in weight loss and management. In the studies, there was often less than a 5% reduction in body weight, leading to the insignificance of a higher calcium diet. Further research needs to be conducted in order to better understand if a higher calcium diet is important in weight management.
Onakpoya, I.J., Perry, R., Zhang, J., Ernst, E. (2011). Efficacy of calcium supplementation for management of overweight and obesity: systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Nutrition Reviews. 69, 335-343. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21631515
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Torres, M. R. S. G., and Sanjuliani, A. F., 2013. Effects of weight loss from a high-calcium energy reduced diet on biomarkers of inflammatory stress, fibrinolysis, and endothelial function in obese subjects. Nutrition Journal. 29. 143-151. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23010419
Zhu, W., Cai, D., Wang, Y., Lin, N., Hu, Q., Qi, Y., … Amarasekara, S. (2013). Calcium plus vitamin D3 supplementation facilitated Fat loss in overweight and obese college students with very- low calcium consumption: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal, 12, 8. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3599592/
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