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The "Skinny" on Calcium and Weight Loss

Updated on June 20, 2011

The Skinny on Calcium and Weight Loss provides valuable information about calcium and the role it plays in weight loss and the reduction of omentum fat. This is part of my Battling Belly Fat series that reveals natural ways to reduce the size of one’s stomach fat to become healthier. In the U.S. over the past two decades obesity rate has been steadily increasing. It seems that as people search and follows ‘quick weight loss’ theories and exercise less; the waistlines are getting larger and larger. To the point that many people have said to heck with it and just have decided that it was meant for them to be fat; while others are starving themselves, bulimic, or exercise maniacs to keep the weight off. In my younger years I’ve tried it all except for the bulimia; just couldn’t get pass the idea of making myself throw up. Now that I’m older and wiser, I like to research and share my findings being healthy and living longer.

Everyone by now has seen at least one of the popular dairy product ad campaigns that claim the calcium in their products will help consumers lose weight. There are signs, videos, and advertisement everywhere stating “Got Milk” and I like the one that says, “Milk does the body good.” So if you’ve read some of my other battling belly fat hubs then you know what I’ve done. Yes, that’s right I’ve performed my own research and then asked my sister, the nurse an RN, MHA (Masters Health Care Admin), CCM (Certified Case Manager), for her thoughts. O.k. a little warning here, this one is going to have a several big words in it, but don’t let that stop you from reading and getting the important info that’s within this hub. If you are battling belly fat, it will be worthwhile understanding why that annoying omentum fat will not go away.

The “Skinny” on Calcium and Weight Loss

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, an adequate intake helps grow a healthy skeleton early in life, and minimizes bone loss in the aging years. Your body uses calcium every day for activities such as muscle contraction, blood clotting and nerve function.

Ninety-nine percent of the body’s calcium is in the bones, to include the teeth, where it plays a double role. First, it is an integral part of our bone structure, giving our bodies shape and upright form. Secondly, calcium serves as a “bank”, lending a readily available dose to the body’s fluids should a drop in blood calcium occur. This balancing act of lending when reserves are low is called calcium homeostasis.

Calcium homeostasis is one of the body’s highest priorities and involves a system of hormones and vitamin D.  Blood calcium is regulated in part by Vitamin D and two hormones – calcitonin (a hormone from the thyroid gland that regulates blood calcium by lowering it when level rise too high) and parathormone (a hormone from the parathyroid glands that regulates blood calcium by raising it when levels fall too low). Whenever blood calcium falls too low or rises too high, three organ systems respond: the intestines, bones, and kidneys.

Ingestion and Calcium Absorption

Many factors affect calcium absorption, but on the average, adults absorb about 30 percent of the calcium they ingest. The stomach’s acidity helps to keep calcium soluble, and vitamin D helps to make the calcium- binding protein (a protein that participates in calcium cell signaling pathways) needed for absorption. Whenever calcium is needed, the body increases its production of the calcium-binding protein to improve calcium absorption. Calcium rides freely on the back of vitamin D, transporting easily into the cell membrane where it can be used by the body. This is why we often see calcium rich products fortified with vitamin D.

Our Bones

When your body doesn't get enough calcium, it may take the necessary amount from your bones, weakening them. Bone serves as a reservoir when blood calcium is high and as a source of calcium when blood calcium is low. When blood calcium levels are low, vitamin D and parathormone (a hormone from the parathyroid glands that regulates blood calcium by raising it when levels fall too low) stimulate osteoclasts. Osteoclasts (a type of bone cell that removes bone tissue by removing its mineralized matrix and breaking up the organic bone, this process is called bone re-absorption) break down bone and release calcium into the blood; osteoblasts (bone cells responsible for bone formation) build new bone using calcium from the blood. Yep you read it correctly; when calcium reserves are depleted your body will break down its bones and re-absorb the calcium from them in order to attempt to maintain adequate levels of calcium.

The Kidneys

Blood calcium is regulated in part by vitamin D and two hormones – calcitonin (a hormone from the thyroid gland that regulates blood calcium by lowering it when level rise too high) and parathormone mentioned above.

Falling blood calcium signals the parathyroid glands to secrete parathormone. Parathormone stimulates the activation of vitamin D. Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption in the intestines (as stated above).

So What’s the “Skinny” on Calcium?

Two out of every three Americans are overweight. Certainly we are eating more and exercising less. But there may be another cause – a lack of calcium in our diets.

According to the federal government’s Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 84% of Americans had low calcium levels averaging around 255 milligrams (mg) per day, which mirrored by their current overweight status, vs. those getting the highest average level of calcium – 1,346 mg per day, whose weights were within recommended standards for their age and height.

What does Calcium Have To Do with Weight Loss?

Calcium does far more than just keep your skeleton strong and maintain a sense of balance in the body. Without enough calcium circulating in your bloodstream, your heart wouldn’t beat, your blood would fail to clot, your hormones could not regulate your metabolism and your nerves wouldn’t transmit signals properly.

When calcium levels fall, or if your diet is low in calcium, the body releases more of the hormone calcitriol. Calcitriol increases absorption of calcium in the intestines, triggering the intestines to absorb as much calcium from food. In addition, calcitriol increases reabsorption through the kidneys, so that you lose as little calcium as possible through excretion.

Some Scientists now believe that calctriol interferes with the body's ability to kill off old fat cells, enhancing the result of increased calcitriol levels, inevitably, bigger, fatter fat cells and more of them. "That means bigger, fatter individuals."

Recent studies and advertising, like the “Got Milk”, advertisements, propose that calcitriol disrupts the burning of fat and stimulates the conversion of sugar into fat. In other words, the more calcitriol released, the more likelihood a Snickers bar will be turned into fat, making it more of a challenge to exercise off. With constant low levels of calcium and increased levels of calcitriol, your fat cells generate and store more fat, causing weight gain.

So, if you don’t “Got Milk”… Go out and get some today for your “tummy’s” sake!

The “Skinny” Defined!

In a 10 year study at Harvard University, researchers found that people who ate three servings of dairy a day had a 60% less risk of being overweight than those who consumed less calcium.

What can I do?

Calcium and Vitamin D are essential throughout one’s course of life. Calcium is found in foods like milk, leafy green vegetables and soybeans. Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium, is found in a limited number of foods, and is made by your skin while you are in the sun. Studies have shown that calcium from dairy foods is more effective for weight loss than supplements. Why? Food is a complex mixture of known and unknown components, yet there is synergetic relationship among the components that can’t be reproduced in a nutritional supplement.

Dairy contains calcium and a host of other biologically active components, including the amino acid leucine. Recent studies have shown that leucine may increase the ability of muscle to use fat.. and we all know that “muscle burns fat”.

Weight Loss and Battling Belly Fat Strategy

We all know that a pound of body weight is equal to 3,500 calories; therefore, to lose an average of one pound per week, you need to reduce your calorie intake and increase caloric burning by about 500 calories per day, or 3,500 calories per week. We also know that a targeted weight loss of 1 pound per week is a safe weight loss strategy.

For those that may want to lose more than the average 1 pound per week, to boost the loss to 1.5 to two pounds, you need three or four servings of dairy a day, for a total of 1,200 to 1,600 mg of calcium. The easiest way to get this amount is with three servings of no-fat (skim, eight ounces or more) or low-fat (an eight ounce serving), yogurt (an eight ounce serving) or cheese (1.5 ounces or two ounces of processed cheese).

Lactose intolerant.. not a problem! Eat vegetarian calcium.

Here are a few excellent sources of calcium for individuals that are lactose intolerant like my sister and I. Good sources of calcium include the following: almonds, sesame seeds, pinto beans and sweet potatoes, as well as spinach, rhubarb and Swiss chard.

Great sources of calcium are found in cauliflower, watercress, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga, kale, mustard greens, bok choy, broccoli, turnip greens, and calcium-fortified foods and beverages.

Diet, exercise, portion control, and adding calcium to your diet just might be the resolution to battling belly fat and trimming your waistline… Will calcium really help you lose weight? Well as with most studies there are always the naysayers that come up with different answers. However, everyone seems to agree that you should have the recommended daily allowance of calcium each day.


There is a debate now about calcium as there is about numerous other things that are good and helpful for you. Many doctors feel that you should not take calcium supplements and only get your calcium from natural foods. Other doctors state that because calcium is absorb into the body slowly that older women with osteoporosis risks should take calcium supplements. Another doctor is even going as far as to say that calcium has nothing to do with bones.  Recently, the British Medical Journal published a study stating that older women taking 500 mg of calcium supplements for osteoporosis were at a 31 percent higher risk of having a heart attack.

Many doctors, however, are questioning the results of this study and stating that women need to consult with their doctors prior to stop taking calcium supplements. The WebMd posted an article that showed varied responses from numerous doctors in an article titled, Calcuim May Increase Heart Attack Risk. Well known, Dr. Oz a heart specialist states that he believes the problem with the research was that the women within the study were not given calcium in the recommended dosage. Dr. Oz believes that if you take calcium supplements then it should be taken as follows: 1,000 mg of calcium, 400 mg of magnesium, and 400 i.u. of vitamin D.

This concludes The “Skinny” on Calcium and Weight Loss and I hope you have found it useful in learning new things concerning a healthy diet and or weight loss challenges. Please remember that a choosing to do things that are good and healthy for your body is the way to find and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

Disclaimer: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should do your own research, and then consult your physician before making any changes that might go against present doctor advised instructions.



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