Women receiving the combination supplement lost an average of 0.8 kg more body fat mass over 12 months, compared to the control group, according to findings published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“In our trial, the test food-induced reduction in body fat was observed at the 12-month but not at the 6-month follow-up. It is thus possible that the fat-reducing effect of calcium may not be rapid and may increase after a longer supplementation period. Thus, the length of the observation period is important to fully determine the effect of calcium supplementation on body fat mass,” wrote scientists from the Morinaga Milk Industry Co, Kagawa Nutrition University, and Bunkyo Gakuin University.
The study, which used dairy-derived calcium, adds to the on-going debate on the potential role of dairy, and the calcium it contains, for weight management. A relationship between dairy intake and weight reduction has been reported in numerous studies, including a 2011 review published in Nutrition Reviews (Vol. 69, pp. 335-343). Scientists at the University of Exeter in the UK concluded that a daily dose of 1,000 milligrams of calcium was associated with a “small, significant reduction in body fat” of around 2 kg per year.
In addition, a meta-analysis in 2009 supported a causal relationship between calcium and fat loss.
One of the lead researchers in this area, Dr Michael Zemel from the University of Tennessee, has previously said that dairy can help reduce body fat and that calcium only accounts for about 40% of the effect.
New study details
The Japanese scientists prepared granulated power made from lactulose crystals, a milk-based calcium, and magnesium oxide. The open-label randomized controlled trial provided daily doses of 300 mg calcium, 150 mg magnesium, and 4.0 g lactulose.
Results showed that, for the 76 women who participated, those in the active supplement group lost an average of 0.8 kg more of body fat mass than the women in the group that received no intervention.
However, no other anthropometric differences were recorded between the two groups.
“A significant finding of the present trial is that the body fat-reducing effect of calcium was induced by a relatively small calcium supplement (0.3 g/day with magnesium and lactulose), which maintained the total calcium intake below the tolerable upper intake level for Japanese,” wrote the researchers. “The average calcium intake in intake group was about 520 mg. Thus, the 300 mg of calcium of the test food added 58% to the average calcium intake.”
Commenting on the influence of magnesium and lactulose, the researchers noted that this was unclear.
“It is possible that magnesium and lactulose enhance the body fat-reducing effects of calcium,” they said. “Some reports indicate that the effectiveness of calcium on the loss of body fat is enhanced by dairy products. It is necessary to investigate the relation between calcium and other nutrients in combination with dairy products.”
Source: Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition
2013 Dec, Volume 22, Number 4, Pages 557-64, doi: 10.6133/apjcn.2013.22.4.07
“Reducing effect of calcium in combination with magnesium and lactulose on body fat mass in middle-aged Japanese women”
Authors: Seki N, Asano Y, Ochi H, Abe F, Uenishi K, Kudou H.