Obesity often coexists with insufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D. Many studies show with an emerging evidence of the role of these two vital nutrients in the regulation of body weight. However, the reason for the association of dairy products with bodyweight management is still not clear.
Calcium is the key mineral for maintaining bone mineral homeostasis. It is present majorly in bones up to 95% and the remainder is plasma bound to plasma proteins, or present as ionic calcium (Ca2+) in extracellular fluid. The latter is regulated by parathyroid hormone (PTH), Calcitonin and vitamin D.
Studies support that Ca plays a role in adipocyte lipid kinetics within the cell as it alters the balance between lipid synthesis and breakdown. It may favour lipogenesis when levels are too high. Furthermore, calcium acts to reciprocally regulate the enzyme Fatty Acid Synthase (FAS), which is a key enzyme responsible for regulating lipid deposition or stimulating adipose tissue lipolysis.
Therefore, theory states that dietary calcium increases lipolysis, therefore accelerates weight loss.
Suppression of hunger sensations by calcium has been described as a contributing factor for better satiety. The other theory states that dietary calcium has been known to act at the level of the gastrointestinal tract to increase energy loss via increased faecal -fat excretion. It has a small but significant effect on fat excretion, intakes of 1200mg/d approximately result in an increased fat secretion.
Both the mechanism and magnitude of the calcium’s effect on body weight remains uncertain, as there is a lack of significant data. Also, both the hypothesis lead to the suggestion that supplemental calcium during calorie restriction would enhance the loss of body fat.
On the contrary, a potential role of calcium in body weight regulation is derived from observations that a high calcium diet coming from energy-dense diets may attenuate weight gain.
Vitamin D status may be inversely related to body mass index (BMI)
The active metabolite 1,25 (OH)2D3, independent of PTH, seems to modulate adipogenesis. Dietary intake of calcium through dairy products help introduce milk bioactive, protein and probiotics. Therefore, due to some uncertain process, it has been observed that reduced vitamin D stores have the potential to increase adipocytes. Chronic lowering of PTH allows the sympathetic nervous system to normally stimulate thermogenesis and lipolysis.
There is growing evidence that poor calcium intake, insufficient vitamin D levels, obesity and lifestyle diseases are all interconnected. In summary, both vitamin D and dairy calcium are independently associated with their contribution to weight loss and more research is needed to conclude their interlinked association with successful weight loss.
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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 February; 89(2): 632–637. DOI:10.1210/jc.2002-021136.