The potential role of calcium, vitamin D and dairy in weight management has been the subject of ongoing discussion in scientific circles. A relationship between dairy intake and weight reduction has been reported in many, though not all studies. Dairy proponents argue that the protein in dairy as well as the calcium, play a role. In fact, higher protein from a variety of sources has been associated with a greater feeling of fullness. Calcium appears to be important too.
A recent review of seven randomized trials indicated that calcium supplementation may promote weight loss to the tune of about 1.5 kg yearly. They also noted that a daily dose of 1,000 g was associated with a reduction in body fat of about 2.0 kg over a year.
In a 2011 study, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center sought to determine whether calcium and vitamin D could have an effect on abdominal fat in 171 overweight and obese adults. During two, 16-week trial periods, the participants received either regular or reduced kilojoule (lite) orange juice fortified with 350 mg of calcium and 100 IU of vitamin D, three times daily. The control group received orange juice without the calcium and vitamin D.
Although no difference in weight loss was seen among the groups, imaging techniques revealed that those getting calcium and vitamin D lost significantly more visceral (abdominal) fat than those drinking the plain or lower kilojoule orange juice.
A reduction in abdominal fat is associated with a decreased risk of chronic disease and is a meaningful benefit. In addition, achieving good intake of calcium and vitamin D – as well as protein – should be part of any healthy weight management effort, to help support bone health and promote lean muscle mass.
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 Onakpoya IJ et al. Efficacy of calcium supplementation for management of overweight and obesity: A systematic review of randomized trials. Nutr. Rev68:335-43, 2011.
 Rosenblum JL et al. Calcium and vitamin d supplementation is associated with decreased abdominal visceral adipose tissue in overweight and obese adults. Am J Clin Nutr 95:101-8, 2011.