Overweight and obese women who took calcium and vitamin D supplements while dieting had improved cholesterol levels, according to results from a new study.
Researchers from Laval University, Sainte Foy, Canada, recruited 63 overweight or obese but otherwise healthy women whose diets included less than 800 mg per day of calcium. The recommended daily allowance for calcium in the U.S. is 1,000 mg and 800 mg for Europe. Scientists placed the women on a 15-week diet plan that allowed 700 fewer calories per day than the women normally consumed. Each woman took a placebo or a tablet that contained 600 mg of elemental calcium and 200 IU of vitamin D twice per day.
Compared to placebo, at the end of the 15-week treatment period, those who had taken calcium and vitamin D had significantly improved high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the “good” cholesterol) compared to total cholesterol and to low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol). Doctors noted that the beneficial changes in the relationship of HDL to total cholesterol, and HDL to LDL did not depend on changes in body fat (fat mass) or waist size. Those who took calcium and vitamin D also had higher absolute levels of HDL, lower absolute levels of LDL, lower levels of total cholesterol and other blood fats (triacylglycerol or triglycerides) compared to placebo.
The scientists believe that calcium may reduce the amount of fat that passes from the gut to the bloodstream, may improve the ability of the body to burn fat and may help people feel full.