Did you know…that calcium not only builds strong bones, but also helps you lose weight?
Calcium is truly a miracle mineral. First, of course, it helps prevent osteoporosis, a disease that afflicts more than 40 million people in the United States alone.
But in addition, it also helps control high blood pressure, cardiovascular illness, and cholesterol levels, and it even lowers your risk of breast and colon cancers. Finally, over a decade of research has also highlighted another coveted benefit—weight loss!
Calcium Benefits and Fat Loss
Researcher Angelo Tremblay and his team at Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine in Canada have been studying the link between calcium benefits and weight loss for the last 10 years. Their first study revealed that people with calcium-deficient diets had larger waistlines, more body fat and higher LDL (bad) cholesterol levels than those with moderate or high-calcium diets.
Their second study showed that people who decreased their calcium intake over a 6-year period gained weight, body fat, and girth. In 2007, Tremblay and team revealed the link between calcium benefits and elevated heart disease among dieters.
Their 2009 study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition is the most exciting. Results of this 15-week study indicate that increased calcium benefits intake helps stimulate weight loss in calcium-deficient obese women.
Participants followed a low-fat diet and increased their calcium intake from 600mg a day to 1200mg a day (the control group was given a placebo pill). The women who received the calcium supplements lost nearly 6kg of fat versus the control group, which lost a mere 1kg.
Researchers theorize that adequate calcium levels help suppress your appetite. “Our hypothesis is that the brain can detect the lack of calcium and seeks to compensate by spurring food intake, which obviously works against the goals of any weight loss program,” said Tremblay.
“Sufficient calcium intake seems to stifle the desire to eat more,” he explained.
Alarmingly, over half of the overweight women who visit his clinic do not consume a sufficient amount of calcium!
Lead researcher Michael Zemel, author of The Calcium Key: The Revolutionary Diet Discovery That Will Help You Lose Weight Faster, explains that calcium helps inhibit the hormone calcitriol, which stimulates the production of fat cells.
By suppressing calcitriol, calcium helps the body whittle away fat cells so that you have a leaner, shapelier figure.
On the contrary, when you don’t consume enough dairy you tell your body that it needs to store and make more fat!
Ultimately, calcium benefits helps you shed pounds because it helps to convert calories and fat to heat, instead of storing the pounds as excess fat reserves. Zemel calculates that calcium benefits may be able to increase weight loss by as much as 70%!
How to Increase Your Calcium Intake
The recommended daily allowance for males and females is 1000mg of calcium per day. Women over 50 should aim for 1200mg per day. Three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products should meet this requirement.
If you are lactose intolerant, you can either eat small quantities of calcium benefits with other foods, or opt for lactose-reduced or lactose-free dairy options.
Dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach are also high in calcium, as are almonds, salmon, and sesame seeds.