A new equation for midlife: calcium+vitamin D+physical activity+better eating =

Posted by on Jan 16, 2009 in health, general, weight | 1 comment

Weight gain. Data abound that show that women between the ages of 50 and 79 experience age-related changes in body composition, metabolism, and hormones, often accompanied by a decline in physical activity. This leads to a propensity for fat and weight gain.

Okay, so that’s the not-so-good news.

The good news is that daily calcium (1000 mg) plus 400 IU of vitamin D may have a small effect on the risk of weight gain. Even better, coupled with other dietary and lifestyle changes (nutrition counseling, physical activity), weight gain may be a thing of the past, or at least, something that is a lot more controllable than we think!

In one study, 36,282 women who were already participating in the Women’s Health Initiative trial and undergoing dietary modification or hormone replacement therapy were assigned to 1000 mg calcium plus 400 IU vitamin D or placebo daily. Weight and height were measured annually for seven years.

Study results, which were published in the May 2007 edition of Archives of Internal Medicine, suggest that women taking daily calcium plus vitamin D supplementation were 11% less likely to experience  modest weight gain (2 to 6 pounds) and also 11% less likely to gain more than 6 pounds. Interestingly, a reduced risk was seen in women who were ingesting less than 1,200 mg calcium daily, which is the recommended daily amount (RDA) by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Notably, the researchers do caution that the findings do not alter the RDA and that women should still aim for the 1,200 mg daily RDA of calcium.

In a second, more recent study published in the online edition of  Maturitas, 101 postmenopausal women were assigned to dietary intervention (1200 mg calcium plus .75 mc vitamin D plus fortified dairy products daily), 1200 calcium daily or placebo. Women in the dietary intervention also attended biweekly dietary and lifestyle intervention sessions.

Similar to results of the first study, women receiving dietary interventions had significantly lower increases in skin thickness measures and experience declines in fat mass compared to the other two groups.

In concert, these results suggest that daily intake of calcium plus vitamin D, coupled with dietary restrictions and physical activity, may help to stave off the extra pounds in midlife. As with any regimen, it is essential to discuss a new regimen with your healthcare practitioner before taking the leap.

I’ve written previously about the value of calcium, dietary restrictions and physical activity to overall health, preventing osteoporosis and heart disease, and lowering the risk of weight gain. The addition of vitamin D appears to make the equation even more effective.

Although there have been many articles written of late that tout the benefits of vitamin D, like anything, it’s not the panacea for all that ails. Good health starts with thoughtful, well-informed choices. But it’s inspiring to know that there are positive steps you can take to feel good and look even better!

One Comment

  1. 1-16-2009

    “Good health starts with thoughtful, well-informed choices” So true! A fantastic post!

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