Besides diet plans, surgery and drugs, consumers have been indulging in a variety of dietary supplements to help lose weight. Over the years, many nutrients, herbs, and supplements have been advocated as aids for weight loss. Of course, none has ever worked. One other dietary supplement that has been hyped up as a weight loss agent is calcium.
It is known that calcium does prevent fat accumulation in the laboratory and thus some clinical researchers have been advocating calcium supplements to prevent additional weight and fat. There are many anecdotal reports about calcium and its ability to induce weight loss. Further, many health firms and vendors of calcium also make exaggerated claims about calcium as a weight loss agent. Up to now, no controlled or randomized studies had been undertaken to look at the effects of calcium on weight loss.
Finally, now there is a randomized study that has investigated the role of dietary calcium in obese individuals. Individuals took close to 1500mg/day of calcium for 2 years and the results were compared to a placebo. The results of this randomized study have just been published in the June issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (Ann Intern Med. 2009; 150:821-829).
At a single clinical center, 340 overweight adults were randomly assigned to receive calcium carbonate or placebo for 2 years. Overweight was defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to less than 30 kg/m2 and obese as a BMI of 30 kg/m2or more.
More than ¾ of participants completed the study. The results showed that there was zero difference between calcium and placebo in decreasing fat or inducing weight loss. In fact, calcium did not induce any weight loss.
The researchers concluded that "Dietary supplementation with elemental calcium, 1500 mg/d, for 2 years had no statistically or clinically significant effects on weight in overweight and obese adults," Further it was stated that "Calcium supplementation is unlikely to have clinically significant efficacy as a preventive measure against weight gain in such patients."