Vitamin D, green tea and calcium support dieting

Vitamin D improved heart health in dieters, green tea reduced abdominal fat, and calcium helped those with low calcium lose more weight, new findings show.

In a study of heart health in dieters, researchers noted that losing excess weight cuts the chances of heart disease, and explained that low vitamin D and high parathyroid hormone levels are two new heart health risk factors.

About 200 healthy but overweight men and women with low vitamin D levels took 3,320 IU of vitamin D per day or a placebo. After 12 months, vitamin D levels were normal in the vitamin D group but remained low for placebo. Measuring other risk factors, compared to placebo, the vitamin D group had lost 4.5 times the amount of blood fats (triglycerides), had three times lower levels of an inflammatory sign (tumor necrosis factor-alpha) and lower levels of parathyroid hormone.

Doctors in a diet study thought that catechins—the powerful antioxidants in green tea—could help the body burn fat. A group of 132 overweight or obese men and women, average age 48, drank a beverage that contained 39 mg of caffeine with or without 625 mg of green tea catechins per day. Participants ate the same amount of calories and exercised for at least three hours per week, including three supervised sessions. After 12 weeks, the green tea group lost more total weight, more belly fat and had lower triglycerides than the caffeine-only group.

Researchers in a study on dieting and calcium believe the brain detects low calcium levels and compensates by increasing appetite. About 60 overweight and obese women, whose diets included little calcium, took 1,200 mg of calcium plus 400 IU of vitamin D per day or a placebo during a 15-week diet program. Among women whose diets included the least calcium, those in the calcium/vitamin D group lost 13 pounds compared to two pounds for placebo. Doctors concluded that calcium appears to reduce appetite.

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