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Calcium supplementation increases fat loss in obese and overweight young adults

Calcium supplementation increases fat loss in obese and overweight young adults

Tuesday, January 15, 2013. In an article published online on January 3, 2013 in Nutrition Journal, researchers in China report a beneficial effect for supplementation with calcium and vitamin D in reducing the body fat of overweight and obese college students.

The trial included 43 men and women between the ages of 18 to 25 years with a body mass index (BMI) of 24 kg/m2 or higher. Food frequency questionnaires administered prior to the trial ascertained that potential subjects' average daily calcium intake was less than 600 milligrams. Participants were randomized to receive an energy restricted diet supplemented with 600 milligrams calcium and 125 international units (IU) vitamin D3, or an unsupplemented diet for 12 weeks. Body fat mass, fat percentage, lean mass, visceral fat mass and visceral fat area were assessed at the beginning of the study and at four week intervals until the end of the treatment period.

While the amount of weight lost by both groups was similar, a significantly greater reduction in fat mass loss and fat percentage occurred in the participants that received calcium in comparison with unsupplemented subjects. Men and women who received calcium and vitamin D experienced a 55.6 percent greater decrease in fat mass loss than the control subjects, and had a greater reduction in visceral fat mass and fat area.

"To our knowledge, ours is among the few relevant studies to evaluate the effect of combined calcium and vitamin D3 administration in very-low calcium consumers by setting initial calcium intake at less than 600 milligrams/day as one of the inclusion criteria," authors Wei Zhu and colleagues note.

Among other mechanisms of body fat reduction, a calcium rich diet has been demonstrated to increase fat oxidation and fat cell apoptosis while reducing lipid absorption. "Future research in this area should be oriented toward a better understanding of the dose–response effect of calcium supplementation (with or without vitamin D) on weight management by administering different dosages of this mineral," the authors conclude.

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Women lacking calcium at risk of primary hyperparathyroidism

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On October 19, 2012, the British Medical Journal reported the finding of researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital of a protective effect for calcium from diet and supplements against primary hyperparathyroidism, a condition in which overactive parathyroid glands secrete too much parathyroid hormone, which can result in bone weakness and fractures.

The current study evaluated data from 58,354 nurses who were between the ages of 39 and 66 years upon enrollment in the Nurses' Health Study I in 1986. Responses to dietary questionnaires completed after enrollment were evaluated for the intake of calcium from diet and supplements. Over a 22 year follow-up period, 277 cases of primary hyperparathyroidism were diagnosed.

Women whose dietary calcium was among the top one-fifth of participants had a 44 percent lower adjusted risk of developing primary hyperparathyroidism compared to those whose intake was among the lowest fifth. When the intake of calcium from supplements containing more than 500 milligrams per day was analyzed, the risk of primary hyperparathyroidism was 31 percent less among those who supplemented in comparison with those who did not use calcium supplements.

"To our knowledge, we report results from the first prospective study of the relation between calcium intake and risk of primary hyperparathyroidism," Julie M. Paik and her colleagues announced. "In women, increased dietary and supplemental calcium intake was associated with a reduced risk for developing primary hyperparathyroidism, independent of age, body size, diet, and other factors."

In an accompanying commentary, James Norman of the Norman Parathyroid Center concludes that "Paik and colleagues' study provides evidence to support physicians in confidently encouraging female patients to take calcium supplements. Daily calcium supplements in modest doses are likely to provide more benefits than risks given that even mild primary hyperparathyroidism has important clinical associations and, over many years, even a moderate increase in calcium concentration probably helps reduce the incidence of parathyroid tumors."

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