calcium foods

Your Body's need for Calcium

Can the level of Calcium in your body affect the way you lose or gain weight? Can it help you absorb less fat or even help increase your metabolism increase? We've looked in to this below.

What is Calcium?

A chemical element with the symbol Ca (with the Atomic Number 20 if you've been watching Breaking Bad) , Calcium is essential for the human body as helps us build and maintain bones in our body as well as being an 'ionic messenger' at a cellular level with many functions. It is actually the 5th most abundant element by mass in our bodies.

Does Your Body Need Calcium?

There are many fundamental reasons why your body has a need for calcium on a daily basis. These include the fact that it is a mineral that is absolutely essential for maintaining the strength of your bones and your teeth.

If the level of calcium that you need in your blood drops below a certain level, than your body will compensate by drawing from what is already present in your bones.If this happens and is not replaced by enough new in take, then gradually your bones will be weakened and become brittle. This can ultimately lead to osteoporosis and other skeletal problems.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that particularly effects women and can be a major health hazard in later life. It is a condition where the bones are weakened and therefore vulnerable to breaking easily. It is currently estimated that fifty percent of women in the US are at risk of osteoporosis because they do not get enough Ca, one of the body's most important minerals.

How Do I get Calcium

In order to make sure you're getting enough of what your body requires, you should try to eat foods that are high in calcium. These include broccoli, cheese and of course milk. Non-fat powdered dry milk can be added to many dishes, including soups and casseroles, and is a good way to up your intake.

Other foods may be specially enriched, such as cereals and orange juice, so its worth keeping an eye out for these. You can also look at fortified orange juice and don't forget the dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach that also provide you with good levels of calcium.

Can Calcium Effect Weight Gain and Weight Loss?

According to some studies, Calcium that's taken in your diet can actually help with fat loss, prevent fat absorption and even raise your metabolism (see International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders, Sept. 16, 2003 Robert Heaney, M.D).

As well as the above report, the US Office of Dietary Supplements note two theories that support weight loss. The first is that calcium is able to bind to fat, preventing your body from then absorbing it so that is simply passes through. 

The second theory is that increased Calcium in your body then meant the body 'knew' it didn't have to  make as much vitamin D or parathyroid hormone. This in turn therefore discouraged the body from then storing fat.

There are two key studies that show opposite results.

Proving the link between Calcium and Weight Loss

In 2000, the Osteoporosis Research Centre of Creighton University used 780 women with a placebo-controlled study of Calcium supplements. Over a period of 4 years, the women who took 1000mg of calcium each day weighed (on average) 3.5 lbs. less than women who did not take the calcium!

On the contrary, in 2003, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers University researchers gave 1000mg a day of calcium to 50 women and a placebo to another 50 and all followed a low calorie diet. After 25 weeks, there was no significant difference between their weight or their body fat composition.

In Summary

regardless of whether Calcium can act as a weight loss aid, calcium is essential for a healthy you. Therefore, it follows that if you do take a calcium supplement you will ensure you are getting what you need for essential body function.

Also be aware that as you get older you may need to increase the amount of calcium your body receives, to help ensure against osteoporosis.

Further Reading

Calcium Quick Facts -

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