When Dr. Robert Heaney, a calcium expert at Creighton University in Omaha, recently examined the health records of 575 women, he was astonished at the results. "We were looking at mid-life weight gain and found that women with the highest calcium intakes didn't gain weight and those with the lowest did," Dr. Heaney said.
Similarly, at the University of Tennessee, Michael Zemel, Ph.D., reported that because calcium plays a key role in metabolic disorders linked to obesity and insulin resistance, a diet low in calcium literally stockpiles fat cells while higher calcium diets depletes them. Dr. Zemel discovered that a high calcium diet released a hormone which sends signals that are read by the body's fat cells to lose weight.
A two-year Purdue University study in West Lafayette, Ind. that involved 54 women ages 18 to 31, found that women with a daily intake of at least 780 milligrams of calcium showed no increase in body fat or lost body fat mass during a two-year period. Women who averaged less than 780 milligrams of calcium gained weight during the same period.
Both exercisers and couch potatoes seemed to benefit unless they consumed more than 1,900 calories daily. All researchers said that dining on calcium-rich dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt achieved greater weight loss than leafy green vegetables, nuts, beans and supplements.