by Robert Goldman MD, PhD Iron Man Magazine
A meta-analysis of seven clinical trials reveals that taking calcium may yield a weight loss of around 1.5 kilograms per year, compared with a placebo. In addition, a daily dose of 1,000 milligrams of calcium led to a small but significant reduction in bodyfat of about two kilograms per year.
Researchers from Peninsula Medical School at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom suggest that calcium encourages the body to shed fat by modulating the levels of 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D—the active form of the vitamin—which in turn stimulates the breakdown of fat and inhibits the action of fat cells. Reporting that their review “revealed a small, significant reduction in bodyweight for calcium compared with placebo,” as well as a “small, significant reduction in bodyfat favoring calcium over placebo,” the researchers concluded that the “evidence from randomized clinical trials suggests calcium supplementation generates small, statistically significant weight loss in overweight and obese individuals.”
Onakpoya, I.J., et al. (2011). Efficacy of calcium supplementation for management of overweight and obesity: systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Nutrition Reviews. 69(6):335–343.
Vitamins and Minerals May Prevent
While severe deficiency of the vitamins and minerals required for life is relatively uncommon in developed nations, modest deficiency is very common in the United States and Europe. Researchers from the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California examined moderate selenium and vitamin K deficiencies to show how damage accumulates over time as a result of vitamin and mineral loss, leading to age-related diseases.
Compiling and assessing several general types of scientific evidence, they tested whether selenium-dependent proteins that are essential from an evolutionary perspective are more resistant to selenium deficiency than those that are less essential. They discovered a highly sophisticated array of mechanisms at the cellular and tissue levels that protect essential selenium-dependent proteins at the expense of those that are nonessential when selenium is limited. They also found that mutations in selenium-dependent proteins that are lost in a modest selenium deficiency result in characteristics shared by age-related diseases including cancer, heart disease, and loss of immune or brain function.
The researchers believe that their results will lead future attempts to link vitamin and mineral deficiencies to age-related diseases to focus on the vitamin and mineral-dependent proteins that are nonessential from an evolutionary perspective. They conclude, “Modest [selenium] deficiency is common in many parts of the world; optimal intake could prevent future disease.”
McCann, J.C., and Ames, B.N. (2011). Adaptive dysfunction of selenoproteins from the perspective of the triage theory: why modest selenium deficiency may increase risk of diseases of aging. FASEB J. 25:1793-1814.
—Dr. Bob Goldman
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