Calcium, Health and Fat-Loss

Calcium, an essential mineral, plays a major role in keeping your bones healthy and regulating nerve and muscle functions.  Researchers in China recently reported a beneficial effect for supplementation with calcium and vitamin D in reducing the body fat of overweight and obese college students.

The trial which enrolled 43 men and women between the ages of 18 to 25 years with a body mass index (BMI) of 24 or higher. Reviewing food frequency questionnaires prior to the trial identified subjects  with an average daily calcium intake of less than 600 milligrams. Study participants were divided into two groups.  Both consumed an energy restricted diet for 12 weeks.  One group supplemented with 600 milligrams calcium and 125 international units (IU) vitamin D3, and the other group did not receive the supplementation.  Body fat mass, fat percentage, lean mass, visceral fat mass were assessed at the beginning of the study and again every four weeks until the end of the study period.

The amount of weight lost by both groups was similar, however, a significantly greater reduction in fat loss occurred in the participants that received calcium when compared with those subjects that did not.  On average, the men and women who received calcium and vitamin D had a 55.6 % greater decrease in fat than the unsupplemented subjects, and they also had a greater reduction in visceral fat.

How can this information help us with our own fat-loss and body composition goals?

Nearly all the calcium in your body remains in the bones and teeth, with just a small amount in the bloodstream.  If you lack calcium in your diet, your body will remove it from your bones and teeth to use as needed.  Getting enough dietary calcium is critical for optimal health.

Studies show that some people need more calcium than others.  Adults 19-50 years old require about 1,000 mg per day, while those over 50 need about 1,200 mg.  Children ages 9-18 and pregnant and/or breastfeeding women need about 1,300 mg per day.  Young children between the ages of 1-3 need about 700 mg daily, while ages 4-8 need 1,000 mg.

Are supplements necessary?

Your body absorbs calcium best when you take in no more than 500 mg at a time.  If you’re eating fruits and vegetables or other foods high in calcium in a meal, taking a calcium supplement at the same time isn’t beneficial since you won’t absorb it all.

Taking too much calcium in the form of calcium supplements can increase your risk of developing kidney stones and has been shown recently to increase some cardiovascular risk factors.  However, any excess calcium from foods does not pose the same risk.

Dairy products and canned fish are well known sources, however, a number of fruits and vegetables also supply calcium.

Every fruits contains some calcium, but those with the highest calcium amounts include frozen rhubarb, with 266 mg per cup, and dried zante currants, with 124 mg per cup.  Dried fruits contain more calcium than fresh, with dried apricots supplying 72 mg, seedless raisins 73 mg, dried plums 75 mg and dried pears 61 mg per cup.  A large orange will supply 74 mg of calcium, and even a cup of watermelon supplies 11 mg.

Vegetables that are especially high in calcium include a number of greens.  Boiled spinach contains 245 mg, collard greens contain 266 mg, boiled mustard greens 284 mg and mustard spinach 315 mg per cup. One cup of boiled soybeans contains 261 mg. One stalk of boiled broccoli contains 112 mg. One cup of raw Kale provides 100 mg. One cup of raw, shredded Chinese cabbage or bok choi provides 74 mg.  One cup of boiled snap green beans supplies 55 mg.

Animal products contain much higher amounts.  8 ounces of plain low-fat yogurt contains 415 mg.  3 ounces of canned sardines with bones provide 326 mg.  1.5 ounces of part skim mozzarella or cheddar cheese provides just over 300 mg.  3 ounces of canned pink salmon with bones contains 181 mg and one cup of 1% cottage cheese contains 138 mg.

As you can see, these numbers add up quickly when you are eating a variety of natural whole foods.  Due to synergistic factors, it is also most likely that absorption rates are higher when the calcium comes from whole food intake rather than from supplements.

A TurboCharged diet will provide optimal amounts of all nutrients, including calcium, without the need for supplementation.  Save the money you were spending on supplements for the best fresh, whole, natural foods you can find and you will be rewarded with much better health.

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.


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