Dietary Calcium has recently been associated with weight loss. More
specifically, it may facilitate fat loss, excretion of dietary fat,
the reversal of gradual weight gain, the prevention of fat storage,
raising metabolism, increasing high density lipoproteins, and the reduction
of both kidney stones and symptoms of PMS. Plus it just may be more
effective than most common weight-loss drugs on the market today!
In a recent 16-week study, a very high calcium diet produced greater
weight loss than the average weight loss shown in one year in studies
using weight loss drugs. International Journal of Obesity & Related
Metabolic Disorders, Sept. 16, 2003
Robert Heaney, M.D., one of the foremost calcium and vitamin D researchers
states: “Only 1000 mg of additional calcium daily can result
in a 17.6 pound difference in your body weight.” Davies, KM,
Heaney RP, Recker RR, Lappe JM, Barger-Lux MF, Rafferty K, Hinders
S. Calcium intake and body weight. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Dec;85(12):4635-8.
“Increasing calcium intake can be estimated to reduce the prevalence
of overweight by perhaps as much as 60 to 80 percent.” Heaney
RP. Normalizing calcium intake: projected population effects for body
weight. J Nutr. 2003 Jan;133(1):268S-270S.
CALCIUM & WEIGHT LOSS
The Experts Weigh In: Validation from Medical Journals
Currently, the weight-loss effect of calcium has been receiving a
great deal of attention. More exciting is that reliable scientific
research has been catching up with the observations:
A diet consisting mainly of high calcium foods resulted in an average
weight loss of 24.6 pounds in 16 weeks. This is greater than the average
weight loss in one year in trials using weight loss drugs such as dexfenfluramine,
sibutramine or orlistat. (Even if the drugs rivaled the calcium diet
for weight loss, they have serious side effects: sibutramine increases
blood pressure and pulse rate; orlistat causes gastrointestinal side
effects; and dexfenfluramine results in serious respiratory and cardiovascular
complications.) International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic
Disorders, Sep 16, 2003 / Hopkins PN, Polukoff GI. Risk of valvular
heart disease associated with use of fenfluramine. BMC Cardiovasc Disord.
2003 Jun 11;3(1):5.
Test animals were placed on a diet high in sucrose and increased
fat, including lard. As anticipated, these animals quickly
became obese. But when given high levels of calcium,
they stopped gaining weight and, instead, began to lose weight. Even
though the caloric intake of the two sets of animals was identical,
those on a low calcium diet gained weight, while those on a high calcium
diet lost weight. Calcium helps to suppress a substance that would
normally increase adiposity (fat) with a calorie-dense meal. By increasing
dietary calcium, the result is a significant reduction in adipose tissue
- accelerating weight loss and body fat loss. Zemel MB . Role of dietary
calcium and dairy products in modulating adiposity.
Lipids. 2003 Feb;38(2):139-46.
High-calcium, low-calorie diets helped test animals lose weight at
rates double those given low levels of calcium. Experimental Biology
2000, Conference, San Diego, April 21, 2000.
Overweight patients with high blood pressure were asked to consume
two cups of yogurt daily to increase their calcium intake in order
to lower their blood pressure. No other changes were made in their
diet or exercise routines. An average of 10.56 pounds was lost in one
year simply by adding the yogurt. Zemel MB , Shi H, Greer B, Dirienzo
D, Zemel PC. Regulation of adiposity by dietary calcium. FASEB J. 2000
A two-year study found that young women who had the highest intakes
of calcium lost the most weight and body fat on weight control programs,
regardless of exercise level. Lin YC, Lyle RM, McCabe LD, McCabe GP,
Weaver CM, Teegarden D. Dairy calcium is related to changes in body
composition during a two-year exercise intervention in young women.
J Am Coll Nutr. 2000 Nov-Dec;19(6):754-60.
Additional sophisticated peer-reviewed trials continue to indicate
that high-calcium diets are associated with lower body weight. And,
in a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers estimated
that only 1,000 milligrams of additional calcium intake daily can result
in a 17.6 pound difference in your body weight. Davies KM, Heaney RP,
Recker RR, Lappe JM, Barger-Lux MJ, Rafferty K, Hinders S. Calcium
intake and body weight. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Dec;85(12):4635-8.
Higher levels of calcium intake may prevent fat storage, and more
calcium may raise metabolism, thus burning more calories. Southwestern
Medical Center Report, 2003.
Each 300 mg increment in regular calcium intake is associated with
approximately 1 kg less body fat in children and 2.5-3.0 kg lower body
weight in adults. Increasing calcium intake could reduce the risk of
overweight substantially, perhaps by as much as 70 percent. (1 kilogram
is equal to 2.2 pounds.) Heaney RP, Davies KM, Barger-Lux MJ. Calcium
and weight: clinical studies. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Apr;21(2):152S-155S.
Calcium may play a role in increasing levels of high density lipoprotein
(HDL, the good kind), reducing kidney stone recurrence, reducing symptoms
of premenstrual syndrome, and promoting weight loss. Moyad MA. Osteoporosis.
Part III--Not just for bone loss: potential benefits of calcium and
vitamin D for overall gen eral health. Urol Nurs. 2003 Feb;23(1):69-74.
Women at midlife gain an average of about one pound a year (with one-sixth
of them gaining at the rate of 2.5 pounds a year) if they are on low
calcium intakes. By contrast, women who take the RDI amount of calcium
show a slight negative weight gain each year. Davies KM, Heaney RP,
Recker RR, Lappe JM, Barger-Lux MJ, Rafferty K, Hinders S. Calcium
intake and body weight. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Dec;85(12):4635-8.
If you are overweight and not watching your diet, increasing dietary
calcium results in significant reductions in fat tissue, and if you
are on a calorie-restricted diet, the calcium will accelerate your
weight loss and body fat loss. Zemel MB . Role of dietary calcium and
dairy products in modulating adiposity. Lipids. 2003 Feb;38(2):139-46.
Growing evidence supports a relationship between increased calcium
intakes and reductions in body weight specific to fat mass. The impact
of calcium intake on weight loss or prevention of weight gain has been
demonstrated in a wide age range of Caucasian and African Americans
of both genders. Teegarden D. Calcium intake and reduction in weight
or fat mass. J Nutr. 2003 Jan;133(1):249S-251S.
Girls who consume more calcium tend to weigh less and have lower body
fat than those with low calcium consumption, although it is not important
whether the calcium comes from food or supplements. Experimental Biology
Meeting, San Diego, Oct 2003.
Low calcium diets impede body fat loss. Zemel MB . Role of dietary
calcium and dairy products in modulating adiposity. Lipids. 2003 Feb;38(2):139-46.
An increase in calcium consumption can reduce the risk of obesity.
International Obesity Symposium, Toronto, Sep 2003 / McCarty MF, Thomas
CA. PTH excess may promote weight gain by impeding catecholamine-induced
lipolysis-implications for the impact of calcium, vitamin D, and alcohol
on body weight. Med Hypotheses. 2003 Nov-Dec;61(5-6):535-42. / Moyad
MA. The potential benefits of dietary and/or supplemental calcium and
vitamin D. Urol Oncol. 2003 Sep-Oct;21(5):384-91.
Additional Selected Abstracts
Regulation of adiposity and obesity risk by dietary calcium: mechanisms
Zemel MB J
Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Apr;21(2):146S-151S.
Dietary calcium plays a pivotal role in the regulation of energy metabolism;
high calcium diets attenuate weight gain during periods of overconsumption
and preserve thermogenesis during caloric restriction, thereby markedly
accelerating weight loss... Moreover, we have recently demonstrated
that the increased calcitriol released in response to low calcium diets
stimulates Ca2+ influx in human adipocytes and thereby promotes adiposity.
Accordingly, suppressing calcitriol levels by increasing dietary calcium
is an attractive target for the prevention and management of obesity...
Further, low calcium diets impede body fat loss, while high calcium
diets markedly accelerate fat loss in transgenic mice subjected to
caloric restriction. These findings are further supported by clinical
and epidemiological data demonstrating a profound reduction in the
odds of being obese associated with increasing dietary calcium intake.
Low calcium intake: the culprit in many chronic diseases (ADSA Foundation
Heaney RP, Barger-Lux MJ.
J Dairy Sci. 1994
...Moreover, the natural diets of all mammals are rich in calcium.
The diet of Stone Age human adults is estimated to have contained from
50 to 75 mmol of calcium (2000 to 3000 mg)/d, three to five times the
median calcium intake of present-day US adults... At least 14 intervention
studies have established the skeletal benefit of increased calcium
intake during growth and among women in the late postmenopause...
The role of calcium intake in preventing bone fragility, hypertension,
and certain cancers
Barger-Lux MJ, Heaney RP.
J Nutr. 1994 Aug;124(8 Suppl):1406S-1411S.
This paper examines the evidence that connects calcium intake and
vitamin D status to bone fragility, hypertension, colon cancer, and
breast cancer. Human calcium physiology, with an intestinal absorptive
barrier and inefficient conservation, reflects the abundance of calcium
in the primordial human food supply... Long-term calcium restriction
and/or insufficient vitamin D may promote the development of bone fragility,
high blood pressure, colon cancer, and breast cancer in susceptible
Calcium supplements: practical considerations
Osteoporos Int. 1991 Feb;1(2):65-71.
The preferable source of calcium is a balanced diet, but medicinal
supplements are sometimes necessary if patients are to reach desired
intakes. A divided dose regimen (4x/d; i.e., with meals and at bedtime)
results in substantially greater absorption of a supplement than does
1x/d dosing... Because typical patients exhibit a wide range of absorption
efficiencies, it is desirable to assess absorption fraction before
beginning a supplement regimen. (Some patients will need three times
as large a dose as others to absorb the same amount of calcium.) Calcium
intakes up to at least 62.5 mmol (2500 mg) are safe for virtually all
patients. (note: study excluded sodium-insensitive hypertension patients,
Calcium, dairy products and osteoporosis
J Am Coll Nutr. 2000 Apr;19(2 Suppl):83S-99S.
...Of 52 investigator-controlled calcium intervention studies, all
but two showed better bone balance at high intakes, or greater bone
gain during growth, or reduced bone loss in the elderly, or reduced
fracture risk. This evidence firmly establishes that high calcium intakes
promote bone health... While most of the investigator-controlled studies
used calcium supplements, six used dairy sources of calcium; all were
positive. Most of the observational studies were based on dairy calcium
also, since at the time the studies were done, higher calcium intakes
meant higher dairy intakes... All studies evaluating the issue reported
substantial augmentation of the osteoprotective effect of estrogen
by high calcium intakes... (note: there are some extensive recent studies
that find that milk does not protect the skeletal system.)
Calcium needs of the elderly to reduce fracture risk.
Creighton University, Osteoporosis Research Center.
...Supplemented intakes to a total in the range of 32.5-42.5 mmol
(1300-1700 mg)/day have been shown to arrest age-related bone loss
and to reduce fracture risk in individuals 65 and older and intakes
of 60 mmol (2400 mg), to restore the setting of the parathyroid glands
to young adult values... Accordingly, suppressing calcitriol levels
by increasing dietary calcium is an attractive target for the prevention
and management of obesity...
The cellular ionic basis of hypertension and allied clinical conditions.
Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 1999 Jul-Aug;42(1):1-22.
...a unifying "ionic hypothesis" is proposed, in which steady-state
elevations of cytosolic free calcium and suppressed intracellular free
magnesium levels, characteristic features of all hypertension, concomitantly
alter the function of many tissues. In blood vessels this causes vasoconstriction,
arterial stiffness, and/or hypertension; in the heart, cardiac hypertrophy;
in platelets, increased aggregation and thrombosis; in fat and skeletal
muscle, insulin resistance; in pancreatic beta cells, other endocrine
tissues, and sympathetic neurons, potentiated stimulus-secretion coupling
resulting in hyperinsulinemia, increased sympathetic nerve activity,
and so on...
New Key Study!
Effect of short-term high dietary calcium intake on 24-h energy expenditure,
fat oxidation, and fecal fat excretion
Jacobsen R, Lorenzen JK, Toubro S, Krog-Mikkelsen I, Astrup A.
Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2005 Mar;29(3):292-301.
Observational studies have shown an inverse association between dietary
calcium intake and body weight, and a causal relation is likely. However,
the underlying mechanisms are not understood... 10 subjects participated
in a randomized crossover study of three isocaloric 1-week diets with:
low calcium and normal protein (LC/NP: 500 mg calcium, 15% of energy
(E%) from protein), high calcium and normal protein (HC/NP: 1800 mg
calcium, 15E% protein), and high calcium and high protein (HC/HP: 1800
mg calcium, 23E% protein). RESULTS: The calcium intake had no effect
on 24-h EE or fat oxidation, but fecal fat excretion increased approximately
2.5-fold during the HC/NP diet compared with the LC/NP and the HC/HP
diets (14.2 vs 6.0 and 5.9 g/day; P < 0.05). The HC/NP diet also
increased fecal energy excretion as compared with the LC/NP and the
HC/HP diets (1045 vs 684 and 668 kJ/day; P < 0.05). There were no
effects on blood cholesterol, free fatty acids, triacylglycerol, insulin,
leptin, or thyroid hormones. CONCLUSIONS: A short-term increase in
dietary calcium intake, together with a normal protein intake, increased
fecal fat and energy excretion by approximately 350 calories per day.
This observation may contribute to explain why a high-calcium diet
produces weight loss, and it suggests that an interaction with dietary
protein level may be important.
2005 Study on Calcium & Reduced Colorectal Cancer: Calcium
from diet and supplements is associated with reduced risk of colorectal
cancer in a prospective cohort of women
Flood A, Peters U, Chatterjee N, Lacey JV Jr, Schairer C, Schatzkin
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Jan;14(1):126-32.
We investigated the association between calcium intake and colorectal
cancer in a prospective cohort of 45,354 women without a history of
colorectal cancer who successfully completed a 62-item National Cancer
Institute/Block food-frequency questionnaire. Women were followed for
an average of 8.5 years, during which time 482 subjects developed colorectal
cancer. We used Cox proportional hazards models, with age as the underlying
time metric, to estimate risk of colorectal cancer... For increasing
categories of calcium from supplements, the risk ratios (and 95% CI)
relative to no supplement use were 1.08 (0.87-1.34), 0.96 (0.70-1.32),
and 0.76 (0.56-1.02), P(trend) = 0.09. Simultaneously high consumption
of calcium from diet and calcium from supplements resulted in even
further risk reduction, RR = 0.54 (95% CI, 0.37-0.79) compared with
low consumption of both sources of calcium. These data indicate that
a difference of < 400 to > 800 mg of calcium per day was associated
with an approximately 25% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer, and
this reduction in risk occurred regardless of the source of the calcium
(i.e., diet or supplements)
Abstract of Negative Findings:
Effect of calcium and dairy foods in high protein, energy-restricted
diets on weight loss and metabolic parameters in overweight adults.
Bowen J, Noakes M, Clifton PM.
Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2005
Feb 15; [Epub ahead of print]
OBJECTIVE: To compare the effects two high-protein (HP) diets that
differ in dietary calcium and protein source on weight loss, body composition,
glucose and lipid metabolism, markers of liver function, fibrinolysis
and endothelial function and blood pressure. DESIGN:: Randomized, parallel
study (12 wk of energy restriction, 4 wk of energy balance) of high
dairy protein/high-calcium (DP, 2400 mg Ca/d) and high mixed protein/moderate
calcium (MP, 500 mg Ca/d) diets (5.5 MJ/d, 34% protein, 41% carbohydrate,
24% fat). SUBJECTS:: In all, 50 healthy, overweight (age 25-64 y; body
mass index 25-35 kg/m(2);) males (n=20) and females (n=30). RESULTS::
Loss of total weight (-9.7+/-3.8 kg), fat mass (-8.3+/-0.4 kg) and
lean mass (-1.6+/-0.3 kg) were independent of dietary group. Improvements
in fasting insulin, lipids, systolic/diastolic blood pressure, and
markers of liver function, fibrinolysis and endothelial function were
independent of dietary intervention. CONCLUSIONS:: Increased dietary
calcium/dairy foods in an energy-restricted, HP diet does not affect
weight loss or body composition. Weight reduction following increased
protein diets is associated with beneficial metabolic outcomes that
are not affected by protein source.
Editor's Comment: In our opinion, high protein diets would mitigate
against calcium's weight loss effects as explained and demonstrated
in the Jacobson, et al. abstract. The difference reported for the normal
protein diet versus the high protein diet was attributable to a fecal
fat and energy excretion of 350 calories per day.
Calcium critics* must consider the large scale calcium deficiencythat
exists across various populations
Calcium Deficiency Firmly Established
KELLEY'S TEXTBOOK OF INTERNAL MEDICINE
Osteopenia (loss of bone density) is a very common and costly disorder
in the United States that affects 25% of elderly women and, at a given
age, half as many men as well. The cause is multifactorial, with several
nutritional factors playing important roles in calcium balance. Almost
all nutritional surveys indicate that calcium intake in the elderly
is far less than the RDA (which was recently increased from 800 mg
to 1,200 mg for persons over age 50). Still higher intakes of 1,500
mg per day were recommended for men and women over age 65 by a 1994
National Institutes of Health consensus panel on optimal calcium intake.
The NHANES II study found mean calcium intakes of 596 and 475 mg per
day in older men and women, respectively, and NHANES III found that
virtually all elderly had intakes below 800 mg per day. Calcium intake
is also inadequate in younger women, with 66% of women 18 to 30 years
old and 75% older than 35 years similarly consuming less than 800 mg
per day. Reduced consumption at these early ages may be critical because
peak bone mass is attained during early adulthood. Of interest, a recent
large randomized trial found that supplemental calcium (1,200 mg per
day) also decreased the risk of colorectal adenomas, providing another
potential rationale for calcium supplementation beyond its beneficial
effects on bone. Absorption of calcium supplements appears to be most
efficient at individual elemental calcium doses of 500 mg or less and
when taken between meals (except for persons with reduced gastric acid
production, in whom calcium citrate may be preferable to more commonly
used calcium carbonate supplements).
Kelley's Textbook of Internal Medicine, Fourth Edition, Chapter 470,
pg.3111, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000.
Normalizing Calcium Intake: Projected Population Effects for Body
Robert P. Heaney
American Society for Nutritional Sciences, 2003, p.
Discussion Excerpts: The data presented in this analysis suggest that
the prevalence of obesity (or weight gain) in women could be reduced
by 60-80% by the simple strategem of ensuring population-wide calcium
intakes at the currently recommended levels...
...Also reassuring in this regard is the analysis of the NHANES-III
data earlier reported by Zemel, et al.(1) After adjusting for age,
sex, race and energy intake, they found a stepwise reduction in risk
of obesity for each quartile of calcium intake. At the highest quartile
(approximately equal to current recommendations for calcium), the risk
of being in the highest BMI quartile was reduced by about 80%...
...The observation, both evident here and previously noted (2), that
mean weight gain at midlife is effectively zero if calcium
intake is at currently recommended levels is a fortuitous
confirmation of the approximate adequacy of those recommendations.
It is fortuitous in the sense that the currently recommended intakes
were pegged to a skeletal endpoint, and there is no prior reason to
expect that all systems would exhibit the same requirement. It is also
interesting to note that, despite the established bone protective benefit
of an adequate calcium intake, the data presented here suggest that
the effect on obesity prevalence-unrecognized until recently - is likely
to be as large as, or larger than, the corresponding effect on osteoporosis
... Low calcium intakes in this case are so widespread in the North
American population today that virtually everyone is
exposed to that influence. If, as seems increasingly
likely, these low intakes are inadequate, then correcting calcium intake
at a population level would produce benefits for many body systems.
Furthermore, some of the factors currently considered to be causative
of the diseases concerned will likely turn out to be only predisposing
or triggering factors, operating by exaggerating or uncovering the
effects of the real cause, inadequate calcium intake.
1. Zemel MB, Shi H, Greer B, Dirienzo D, Zemel PC. Regulation of adiposity
by dietary calcium. FASEB J. 2000 Jun;14(9):1132-8.
2. Heaney RP, Davies KM, Barger-Lux MJ. Calcium and weight: clinical
studies. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Apr;21(2):152S-155S.
*We have found that some of the leading authorities in nutrition are
against calcium supplementation.
Editor's Note on Calcium Supplementation
Of all the ideological conflicts in nutritional medicine, one area
where there is huge disagreement is whether to supplement with calcium
Leaders and opinion makers I respect have criticized supplementation
of additional calcium despite increasing RDA's and dozens
of studies showing benefits for osteoporosis prevention. Evidence exists
that higher intakes of calcium minimize expression of such conditions
as cancer of the colon and breast, and hypertension and obesity, all
of which are multifactorial in causation and have a calcium deficiency
component. The higher RDA's are a result of studies
showing that higher levels are required to maintain calcium balance.
J. Nutrition. 133: 249S-251S 2003
If we go back to the very basic issues, calcium deficiency is firmly
established, as summarized from Kelley's Textbook of Internal Medicine
(Fourth Edition, Chapter 470, pg. 3111, 2000) as presented on page
8. We are a population deficient in calcium, as defined by federal
based requirements. It is one of the most significant nutritional deficiencies
that exist. Other paramount nutritional deficiencies that are talked
about here include vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin K, especially vitamin
K2. Since all of these nutrients work together to optimize calcium
biochemistry, and since calcium is such a critical structural and regulatory
molecule, functional problems associated with deficiencies are likely
be much greater, as clinical effects are compounded by multiple deficiencies
of these related nutrients. The odds are that most of us are deficient
in one or more of these nutrients.
Why do we need so much calcium when other cultures don't? There are
some other cultures that exhibit much lower calcium consumption and
lower osteoporosis? Our culture wastes calcium via high protein, high
phosphorus and acidifying diets. These are big factors and cannot be
overlooked. Jaffe R, Brown S. Acid-Alkaline ba lance and its effect
on bone health. Intl J Integrative Med, 2001; 4 (6): 7-18.
Also, our consumption of pasteurized milk, being our major food source
of calcium, may exaggerate magnesium deficiency because
the ratio of calcium to magnesium is so high at 9:1.
As I will show, magnesium deficiency compromises some of calcium's
function, so milk may be worsening both calcium and magnesium deficiency
in some patients. There are also recent findings that suggest that
milk may not be the best source of calcium for healthy bones, as seen
in the Nurse's Study done at Harvard, although numerous other studies
show benefit for bones.
So why are leading orthomolecular doctors, who are opinion leaders,
and internationally-known authoritative figures, anti-calcium
or let's say, calcium antagonists? Because these doctors
are concerned about calcium accumulation in the vascular system and
in soft tissues over many years, and they blame dietary calcium. Also,
these doctors are well aware of the vast magnesium deficiencies that
exist and are afraid that supplemental calcium will compete with magnesium
I will quote from the very prestigious textbook Modern Nutrition in
Health and Disease (9th Edition, edited by Maurice Shils, James Olson,
Moshe Shike, Catherine Ross. 1999, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins).
(All quoted text is italicized.)
With advancing age, humans commonly accumulate calcium deposits in
various damaged tissues, such as atherosclerotic plaques in arteries,
healed granulomas, and other scars left by disease or injury, and often
in the rib cartilages as well. These deposits are called dystrophic
calcifications and rarely amount to more than a few grams of calcium.
These deposits are not caused by dietary calcium, but by local injury,
coupled with widespread tendency of proteins to bind to calcium.
Our opinion is that higher dietary calcium, via the calcium paradox,
and magnesium and other minerals such as boron, and especially vitamin
K, will prevent much of the dystrophic calcification.
Calcification, which usually occurs intracellularly in tissues other
than bones and teeth is generally a sign of tissue damage, cell aging
and cell death. As cells lose control of calcium regulation and are
unable to maintain low intracellular calcium, cellular function must
It is worth explaining that calcium binds to a large number of cell
proteins, which result in the activation of their function. By binding
with oxygen atoms of glutamic acid and aspartic acid residues projecting
from the peptide backbone, calcium stiffens the protein molecule and
fixes its tertiary structure. Hence the cell keeps cytoplasmic concentration
very low, and when it wants to activate these calcium-associated enzymes,
it allows calcium to enter and uses calcium in a regulatory manner.
When calcium generally "leaks" into cells it means the cells
are sick and failing to regulate calcium and this will initiate a further
loss of function of the cell.
These calcium-associated proteins range from those involved in cell
movement and muscle contraction to nerve transmission, glandular secretion,
and even cell division. In most of these situations calcium acts as
both a signal transmitter from the outside of the cell to the inside,
and an activator of the functional proteins involved. In fact, ionized
calcium is the most common signal transmitter in all of biology. It
operates from bacterial cells all the way up to cells of highly specialized
tissues in higher mammals.
There is concern that high calcium intake would produce relative magnesium
deficiency, and this has been observed in rats but not humans. Calcium
intake does not affect magnesium retention in humans. However the reverse,
hypocalcemia, can occur as a result of magnesium deficiency. (Summarized
in Shils, et al., Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 1999.)
Hypercalcemia refers to an elevation of calcium in blood and is generally
reported wherein there is large consumption of calcium to raise the
pH in peptic ulcer disease, but not for the normal diet. In Africa,
the nomadic pastoral Masai tribe diet consists mostly of milk from
the herds and flocks, and they consume 5000 mg of calcium per day or
more, which is 5 or more times what the industrial population consumes.
The Masai tribe are not known to have unusually high incidence of hypercalcemia
or kidney stones. (Shils, et al., Modern Nutrition). They probably
have another good source of magnesium.
The theory presented by Heaney and others that prehistoric man consumed
a lot of calcium is also presented in the Shils text and referenced
to in Eaton's New England Journal of medicine article. (Eaton SB, Konner
M. N. England J. Med. 1985:312 283-289) Therein it is stated that:
Early man derived calcium from roots, tubers, nuts, and beans in quantities
believed to exceed 1500 mg per day, and perhaps twice this amount when
consuming food to meet the caloric demands of a hunter/gatherer of
contemporary body size.
Such a well-known text and nutritional source as Modern Nutrition
presents generally accepted nutritional concepts which must be accepted
by a wide range of experts. So their opinions represent a consensus
of academic thinking. In these cases, the concepts generally agree
with the citations from Dr. Westin Price's work, the Okinawa program
by Willcox B, Willcox C, and Suzuki M., and the theoretical and research
conclusions from a host of other researchers presented in this newsletter.
The health benefits of pasteurized milk have become highly questioned
due to significant research correlations with cardiovascular risk,
prostate cancer, MS, bovine leukemia virus and more. The exact cause
is still uncertain, but proteins altered by the heat of pasteurization
and other potential causes are cited. Raw milk and yogurts are probably
better choices. It is interesting to note that much of civilization
grew up surrounded by flocks of goats and other milk-bearing animals.
Such animals have fed hungry families for millennium, and our genetic
constitution must have adjusted to some degree. (The Untold Story of
Milk, Ron Schmid, N.D., 2003, NewTrends Publishing).
Calcium critics should probably direct their concerns towards commercial
milk and milk products rather than the calcium they contain.
Responses to Common Criticisms of Calcium Supplementation:
Criticism: None of the studies strongly support calcium supplements
as contributing to weight loss. They do support dairy calcium, meaning
calcium found in non-fat diary.
Response: The original study was made when yogurt was added to the
diet of hypertensive patients with no other dietary changes. On average,
over 10 lbs was lost by participants in one year. These results lead
to an interest in calcium and weight loss. Shortly afterwards, animal
studies in which calcium was increased from .1% to 2% resulted in a
reduced weight gain in both lean and overweight Zucker rats. Extensive
biochemistry studies followed to delineate the mechanism involved.
Both calcium from milk products and calcium salts were used (summarized
in Calcium Intake and Reduction in Weight or Fat Mass, Mass J. Nutr.
33: 249S-251S 2003). In a two year study, mineral bone mass was tested.
54 women completed a two year trial. Calcium intakes were low, 781+-
212 mg per day, compared to dietary reference of 1000 mg per day. The
primary calcium source was dietary calcium from dairy (67%). Dietary
calcium ratio to energy (calories) negatively predicted changes in
body weight and body fat, but not for lean mass. This means the more
calcium, the less fat accumulated without reductions in protein levels.
Dairy calcium predicted the changes as well as did non-dairy calcium;
the research on fat storing enzymes and alterations in body temperature
by calcium works independent of the source of calcium.
Another very important point is that this relationship of lowered
body weight to calcium intake occurs in low, but not high calorie diets.
"Calcium intake did not predict changes in weight or fat mass
in the group with calorie intakes above the mean. On
the other hand calcium, but not calories, negatively predicted changes
in weight and fat mass in calorie intakes below the mean."
So you can't stuff yourself and expect calcium to protect you. This
indicates that one should be moderate in food consumption in order
to get calcium to work for your biochemistry.
"Clearly if dairy products are added to a diet without compensation
for energy intake, one is likely to gain weight."
We would like to emphasize that this is not a magic bullet for immediate
weight loss, but a long term solution which may generally aid patients
to gain advantage over the slow weight gain that accompanies aging.
Calcium could turn around that increase in girth, when consumed with
a moderate diet, and even turn that to a slight weight loss, according
to the researchers we cite.
However, aggressive interventions as described on page 1 might be
tried under medical supervision, and may produce dramatic results as
the study cited, with a milk diet.
Also, notable benefit may follow the use of a highly buffered form
of calcium, magnesium and potassium formula in relationship to food
Criticism: The low incidence of obesity in ancient people and underdeveloped
countries is directly proportional to activity levels and lack of food
or lack of refined food.
Response: There are obviously many factors and exercise is certainly
got to be a big one. The calcium effect is a statistical factor. We
have tried to emphasize that by relying on some of the analysis in
the abstracts. Not everyone will respond and this is a long term potential
solution of potentially great magnitude. Also, one might appreciate
OUR model that winter brings hibernation in hibernating animals. I
suspect that we (humans) also have some of those hibernation characteristics.
Perhaps because not enough vegetables and other rich sources of dietary
calcium are being consumed, and less time is spent in the sun, humans
may have retained the ability to conserve reserves by reducing fat
burning, thereby conserving energy in the form of fat "for a sunny
day" or for the spring and summer season. Just as the old adage
goes, normally we save our resources "for a rainy day" and
the body does the same by conserving fat and reducing fat burning when
sunshine and calcium (a marker for vegetable consumption) are in short
supply. There is data that vitamin D also has an inverse relationship
to obesity. Hence, lack of vegetables (high in calcium) and sunshine
would signal the body to go into a modified hibernation mode, slowing
down metabolism for the winter season. So that's our hibernation theory.
We have presented expert "textbook" opinions on the safety
of calcium supplementation, along with the probable explanation of
the calcium paradox and clinical benefits from higher levels. However,
more needs to be said on safety.
Certain medical conditions might be related to or worsened by increased
dietary calcium, but this is not clear from the literature from what
we have seen. It is plausible that in patients with renal failure there
could be preferential mineralization in vascular tissue instead of
bone. Kidney failure, as with other serious illness may require special
consideration on a case by case basis. In other disease states, abnormal
calcification of vessels and tissues as described in complex animal
studies by Hans Selye ( Calciphylaxis, 1962, The University of Chicago
Press) may occur, but again we think the weight of the evidence by
far, suggests safety and benefit for RDA, and even somewhat higher
levels for the general population.
Since we have presented statistical findings, we cannot appropriately
determine which patients will respond. It is likely
that a portion will not respond and this may well be
related to metabolic type. Since some significant groups may not respond,
the data for those that do respond would thus be understated,
because it would represent average numbers (per individual).
Hence a more profound response might be expected from