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August 10, 2010

Calcium supplementation linked with decreased trunk fat gain in postmenopausal women

Calcium supplementation linked with decreased trunk fat gain in postmenopausal women

In an article published online on July 23, 2010 in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, researchers at Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha report that four years of calcium supplementation is associated with a reduction in trunk fat gain and increased maintenance of trunk lean mass in postmenopausal women compared to those who received placebos.

Lan-Juan Zhao, PhD and colleagues analyzed data from 870 postmenopausal women who participated in a population-based, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial designed to evaluate the effects of calcium and vitamin D on osteoporotic fractures. In that trial, the women were divided to receive one of the following daily regimens: 1,400 milligrams calcium from calcium citrate or 1,500 milligrams calcium from calcium carbonate per day plus a placebo; calcium plus 1100 international units (IU) vitamin D3, or two placebos for up to four years. Weight, body mass index, trunk fat, and trunk lean mass were measured at the beginning and end of the study, and dietary calcium and habitual calcium supplementation by the participants was assessed.

Although body mass index did not differ significantly between the groups at the end of the study, both groups that received calcium gained less trunk fat and maintained a greater amount of trunk lean mass compared to the placebo groups. Significant differences were not observed between subjects who received calcium only and those who received calcium plus vitamin D.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first clinical trial in a population-based postmenopausal women cohort, to observe that increasing calcium intake, in the form of non-dairy calcium supplementation, can prevent gain of fat mass and loss of lean mass," the authors announce.

In their discussion of the findings, the authors note that trunk fat tends to increase with age. "Our data indicate that higher calcium intake prevents the accumulation of trunk fat, and helps to preserve trunk lean. Lean mass (mostly skeletal muscle) is a key site for energy metabolism. These effects collectively lead to the beneficial effect of reducing the risk of obesity."

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Obesity

About age 30 to 35, most men (and some women) notice they are gaining weight around the middle. Their pants become tight and at some point no longer fit. The words “pot belly,” “beer belly,” or “spare tire” are sometimes used to describe the medical condition called “abdominal obesity.” This sort of fat accumulation greatly increases the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.

As it turns out, there is a scientific explanation for the tendency toward abdominal obesity among middle-aged men. As men age, their levels of free testosterone decline, and levels of estrogen and insulin increase. This is partly because aging men convert much of their testosterone into estradiol, a form of estrogen. Of the remaining testosterone, much is bound to sex hormone–binding globulin, a protein in the blood, and is not biologically active. Studies have shown that men with low free testosterone have higher rates of coronary artery disease, mental depression, and dementia (Tan et al 2004).

In women, the relationship between excess body fat, testosterone, estrogens, and progesterone is somewhat more complicated.

It is believed that estrogen reduces lipid oxidation at puberty and in early pregnancy to facilitate efficient fat storage in preparation for fertility, birth and lactation (O'Sullivan et al 2001; Rosenbaum et al 1999). This modification in lipid oxidation enables fat storage without significant changes in dietary fat and caloric intake (O'Sullivan et al 2001).

The drop in gonadal estrogen production at menopause is associated with an increase in the waist to hip ratio and an increase in size of visceral adipose tissue, and administration of estrogen to postmenopausal women is associated with a lowering of the waist to hip ratio (Rosenbaum et al 1999). However, as women age, levels of progesterone and all estrogens (including estriol, estradiol, and estrone) decline. Progesterone declines much more rapidly than do the estrogens, leading to “estrogen dominance” (Lee et al 1999). Life Extension believes the imbalance of estrogens and progesterone may play a pivotal role in the dynamics of metabolic obesity and visceral fat accumulation in aging women.

The LE weight loss plan begins with comprehensive blood testing to help determine which hormones are low and whether thyroid function needs to be supported. You can order the suggested hormone profile blood tests over the telephone, (800) 208-3444, or on a special website (www.lef.org/blood).

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