The role calcium plays in bone health is well-known, but the idea that abundant calcium in the diet can help us maintain normal weight is likely a new concept for you.
In this article, I will tell you why calcium influences weight loss. You will also learn how to get more high-quality calcium into your diet. I will give you the inside story on the best calcium supplements and how to make sure you are absorbing the calcium you take in.
Calcium - Not Just for Bone Density
The idea that calcium intake may be related to body weight has been borne out by several studies in the past ten years. Studies in rats and mice suggest that higher calcium intake alters the metabolism of fat cells, causing less fat to be stored and more fat to be released.
Why would this be so?
To find out, we need to go back to our hunter-gatherer origins. The Paleolithic diet contained an abundance of calcium - 2000 milligrams or more. Human calcium physiology is still tuned to that level of abundance. Therefore, if we don't get enough calcium, it is a signal to our bodies that we are starving. That tells the body to slow down the metabolism, and to burn less fat, even if adequate calories are being consumed. Abundant calcium is a signal to the fat tissue that your body is well-nourished, and no longer needs to store fat, but can burn it. Fat storage is reversed, fat burning increased.
Another way calcium helps in weight loss is to help reduce cravings. The combination of high calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C has been proven to quickly reduce all kinds of cravings. People with the highest intake of calcium lost the most fat on weight control programs regardless of exercise level. Significant weight loss was even observed in overweight people who were not watching their diet, when they increased their calcium intake!
Here are some other reasons it is good to make sure you are getting plenty of calcium. Adequate calcium may play a role in increasing HDL (high-density lipoprotein) in the blood. It also has been given credit for; reducing occurrence of kidney stones, reducing risk of colorectal cancer, reducing fracture risk, and reducing age-related bone loss. Long-term calcium restriction and lack of vitamin D can promote high blood pressure, too.
Are You Getting Enough Calcium?
The average American typically consumes only 600- 700 milligrams of calcium per day, and many are well below that level. To increase calcium in your diet, partake of aged raw cheese, yogurt, and butter from grass fed cows. Cheeses made in Switzerland are made from raw milk and aged over 60 days, which increases the availability and absorption of calcium and other minerals contained in the cheese. Switzerland Emmenthaler and Gruyere are available in many supermarkets. Look for the red print on the rind which says it was made in Switzerland.
Other easy-to-obtain sources of calcium are some varieties of canned fish, such as sardines and salmon. Typically, they contain some very soft fish bones. While I don't advocate consuming much canned food of any kind, canned fish are a convenient source that can add to your other sources. Once or twice a week is fine.
What to Look for in a Calcium Supplement
The best absorbed form is called calcium citrate. Avoid the oyster shell calcium. It can be contaminated with heavy metals. In a study where calcium gluconate, calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate were given together, the body absorbed 2/3 of the gluconate, 1/3 of the phosphate and none of the carbonate.
Other Nutrients that Help Calcium Absorbtion
Just taking a lot of calcium is not adviseable. Other nutrients that balance calcium intake and help calcium to be better absorbed are magnesium, vitamin A and D, boron, manganese, and potassium.
Since magnesium is difficult to absorb, it is good to take a supplement. Cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamins A and D. Boron and manganese are especially important. They can be taken in supplement form, and also are found in some foods. Foods that contain boron include apples, legumes, almonds, pears and green leafy vegetables. Foods that contain manganese include ginger, buckwheat and oats.
To be absorbed, calcium requires vitamin D and stomach acid.
For this reason, it's important to avoid antacids and the H2 blockers such as Tagamet and Zantac, which block or suppress the secretion of stomach acid. Contrary to what the makers of heartburn and indigestion remedies would have you believe, the last thing in the world most people need is less stomach acid. Heartburn and indigestion are caused by poor eating habits and a lack of stomach acid.
In conclusion, supplementing with calcium and the co-nutrients that aid in its absorption are a good idea, especially if you want to lose weight. Make sure to provide the foundation of a wholesome diet and regular exercise for best results.
Reference: Ellen Landauer is a Health Seminar Leader and Coach with 3 decades experience, and a Certified Advanced Rolfer with a practice for over 25 years. Her mission is to empower people to achieve optimal health as a gateway to the joy of higher human functioning. Ms. Landauer has initiated a wholesale supplement program for a limited number of selected applicants.