Life Extension Update
Calcium from supplements helps slow middle-aged spread
The July, 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association published the results of a study by investigators at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle which found that increasing calcium intake by supplementing with the mineral improves weight maintenance among middle-aged individuals, especially women.
The current study included 10,591 men and women between the ages of 53 and 57 who completed questionnaires administered in the VITamins and Lifestyle cohort study, which sought to determine the impact of vitamin and mineral supplementation on cancer risk. Questionnaire responses provided data on diet, supplement intake, age, health history, current and past weight, physical activity and other factors. A team led by Alejandro J. Gonzalez examined the participants’ calcium intake from diet, supplements, and supplements plus diet over the previous ten years to determine which had the greatest impact on weight change.
The majority of participants experienced weight gain over the ten years prior to completing the questionnaires. While calcium from diet alone had no significant effect on weight change, supplementation with calcium was associated with improved weight maintenance, particularly among women. Women who did not use calcium supplements experienced an average gain of 6.9 kilograms over ten years, compared to a gain of 5.1 kilograms among women who supplemented with more than 500 milligrams per day of calcium. Calcium intake from supplements plus diet was associated with a similar benefit. Postmenopausal women who were not receiving hormone replacement therapy showed the greatest benefit from calcium supplements, with a gain of 4.8 kilograms over ten years experienced by those for whom the amount of calcium from supplements consumed each day was in the top one-third of participants compared to a gain of 7.8 kilograms for nonsupplementers.
Although the authors recommend that more evidence from clinical trials be obtained, they conclude that “calcium supplements taken for other reasons (e.g., prevention of osteoporosis) may have a small beneficial influence on reducing weight gain, particularly among women approaching midlife."
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