Calcium may not aid in weight loss.




Am J Clin Nutr

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Consumer Data: Calcium Obesity, Weight Loss
Professional Data: Calcium Obesity, Weight Loss


Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. Average healthy males have about two and a half to three pounds of calcium while females have about two pounds. Approximately 99 percent of calcium is present in the bones and teeth, which leaves only about one percent in cells and body fluids. While the most important function of calcium involves the maintenance of skeletal health, the small percentage of calcium outside the bones is used to maintain a variety of vital body functions. Milk and dairy products are the major source of dietary calcium for most people. Other good sources are dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.

As most people know, calcium is crucial for the development and long-term health of bones and teeth. Calcium is also necessary for a wide array of other functions. Calcium may initiate muscle contractions. For this reason it plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy heartbeat. It is also involved in the body's blood clotting process. On the cellular level, calcium regulates the passage of nutrients and wastes through cell membranes. It is also involved in the regulation of various enzymes that control muscle contraction, fat digestion, and metabolism. Finally, calcium regulates the transmission of nerve impulses.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that role of calcium in weight loss is controversial. Both positive and negative studies have been published. This study researched the role of calcium and dairy products on weight over a 12-year period in American men. This study began in 1986 and ended in 1998. Men between the ages of 40 and 75 at baseline reported calcium intake using food questionnaires. Weight was recorded in 1986 and then again in 1998. The results showed that there was not a significant correlation between calcium intake and weight. However, men with the highest intake gained slightly more weight than those with the lowest intake. The authors stated, “ Our data do not support the hypothesis that an increase in calcium intake or dairy consumption is associated with lower long-term weight gain in men.”1


1. Rajpathak SN, et al. Calcium and dairy intakes in relation to long-term weight gain in US men. Am J Clin Nutr. Mar 2006;83(3):559-66.