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How Much Does Calcium Contribute to Weight Loss?

We all know that calcium builds your bones and keeps your teeth strong (about 99 percent of the calcium in your body is in your bones and teeth), but this mineral plays a role in much, much more, including:


Some experts say eating low-fat dairy products will give you plenty of calcium and help you lose weight, but do you know the other healthy food sources of calcium? (Keep reading to find out.)

  • Blood clotting

  • Nerve conduction

  • Muscle contraction

  • Regulation of enzyme activity

  • Cell membrane function

There's also much debate over the role of calcium in weight loss. Some experts maintain that higher levels of calcium may prevent fat storage in your body and raise your metabolism (which burns more calories). Others, however, say there is no link between calcium and your weight.

Calcium and Weight Loss: What Does the Research Say?

A seven-year study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that calcium did, in fact, help women to avoid weight gain, particularly if they weren't getting enough to begin with.

Women in this group were 11 percent less likely to gain weight, and more likely to lose weight or remain weight-stable, than women who took placebo pills, researchers said.

However, the weight benefit was only moderate at just over one-quarter of a pound on average, and less than half a pound for women with low calcium intake.

Another study from 2000 also found a beneficial effect for calcium. In this study, mice fed a high-calcium diet had a significant reduction in body fat. Low-fat dairy products appeared to be the best source for calcium, as far as weight loss was concerned. The study found that:

  • Mice getting their calcium via supplements had a 42 percent decrease in body fat

  • Mice fed a "medium-dairy" diet had a 60 percent decrease in body fat

  • Mice fed a "high-dairy" diet lost 69 percent body fat

Other studies seem to show that calcium has no impact on weight loss whatsoever. A study presented at the Obesity Society meeting in Boston on October 22, 2006, for instance, found that after two years, people who took calcium pills twice a day did not weigh any less than people who took a placebo.

How Calcium May Impact Your Weight

Overall, it seems that calcium may not be a magic bullet to help you shed weight overnight ... but getting enough of this healthy mineral does appear to make managing your weight easier.

If your body doesn't get enough calcium, your body releases parathyroid hormone and calcitriol to release more calcium from your bones and into your bloodstream -- and to increase your body's ability to absorb calcium.

However, these two compounds also stimulate the production of fat.

"As a result, your body stores fat and holds on to it stubbornly, even if you're on a low-calorie diet," says Michael B. Zemel, Ph.D., head of the department of nutrition at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

According to Zemel, low-fat or non-fat dairy products are the best source of calcium for weight loss.

However, dairy foods like milk and milk products are also one of the most highly allergenic foods out there. (If you have food allergies, we highly recommend The Food Allergy Survival Guide Book ... it can be a literal lifesaver!)

Allergic to Milk? Get The Food Allergy Survival Guide Book!

Food Allergy Survival GuideFor a complete guide on how to eat if you have food allergies and intolerances, check out the highly recommended Food Allergy Survival Guide Book. In it you'll learn:

  • How to avoid the foods and ingredients that trigger reactions
  • How to substitute healthful ingredients for those that trigger allergic responses
  • How to meet recommended nutrient intakes while avoiding trigger foods such as dairy products, eggs, gluten-containing grains such as wheat, or other food culprits
  • How to determine which food(s) may be triggers for your symptoms ... and much more!

Find out More About The Food Allergy Survival Guide Book Now!

How can you get enough calcium if you're allergic to milk? Actually, it's easy, as contrary to popular belief, dairy foods are not the only sources of calcium, nor are they the richest.

Some of the best food sources of calcium are actually leafy green vegetables, such as:

  • Spinach

  • Turnip greens

  • Mustard greens

  • Collard greens

  • Swiss chard

  • Kale

  • Romaine lettuce

While the jury is still out as to whether calcium yields significant weight loss benefits, there are still numerous reasons to get plenty of it in your diet.

If you don't get enough of this mineral through your diet or supplements, for example, it means that your blood levels of calcium will be low.

To compensate, your body will take calcium from your bones to keep your blood calcium levels where they need to be. Over time, this can weaken your bones and lead to osteoporosis.

Plus, if you enjoy the leafy greens above as your primary source of calcium, these superfoods will support your health in other ways, and, if you use them to replace some junk foods in your diet, will likely help you to lose weight, as well.

Recommended Reading

Calcium Better From Food, Says New Study: Here are the 26 Top Calcium Food Sources

Want to Reduce PMS? Eat Some Cheese, Get Some Sun and Take These Other Steps


Archives of Internal Medicine Vol. 167 No. 9, May 14, 2007

ABC News October 22, 2006

Natural Health January/February 2002

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