The effects of calcium on the body composition and body weight

RESULTS

A total of ten (10) subjects were randomly selected to participate in the study. The subject were divided into two groups, 5 people each. One group was taking the calcium supplement while the others were taking placebo.

Demographic and Baseline Data

All the participants were grouped as either active, moderately active or inactive. Further, their baseline calcium intake and other body measurements were taken and recorded. The baseline activity level, calcium intake, body weight and body fat contents for the subjects were as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Baseline Characteristics

  Activity level Calcium Body weight Body fat %
C1 Moderately active 458 55.5 30.7
C2 Moderately active   69.6 21.4
C3 Active 1243 63.7 21.6
C4 Inactive 583 52 12.7
C5 Moderately active 567 63.9 24.3
C6 Active 401 63.9 27
C7 Active 554 64.1 13.9
C8 Inactive 769 55.7 28.5
C9 Moderately active 539 52.4 21
C10 Active 477 70.2 29.5

 

The skin fold measurements for the subjects were also taken at different points and recorded as in Table 2.

Table 2. Skinfold measurements

Suprailliac skinfold Triceps skinfold Bicep skinfold Subscapular skinfold
C.1 8 14.5 7.5 11.25
C.2 13.5 12.5 7.25 11
C.3 10.5 13.75 8.5 15
C.4 8 8 5.75 13
C.5 12.75 16 10.75 19.5
C.6 10 11 11.5 9.25
C.7 9.75 10 4 14.5
C.8 11 10 6.75 9.75
C.9 8.25 9.75 3.75 8.5
C.10 20.75 18.75 10.75 20

 

Changes in Body Measurements after 6 Weeks

After the 6 weeks treatment with either calcium supplements or placebo, body measurements were retaken and compared to the baselines. The changes in body composition, body weight, and body fat content were recorded for all the participants after the 6 days of treatment. The results were as shown in Table 3.

 

Table 3. Differences in body measurements

  1. Subjects on calcium supplements
Difference between each measure before and after
Body weight Body fat % Muscle mass TBW
C.1 0.9 6.1 2.5 4.3
C.2 0 4.2 -3.4 -4.6
C.3 0.1 1.2 2.1 1.5
C.4 0.1 5.6 -6.9 -5.5
C.5 3.5 0.4 1.1 -0.2

 

  1. Subjects on placebo
C.6 0 0 0 0
C.7 2 2.3 -1.1 -2.5
C.8 4.1 -1 -8.7 -8.3
C.9 0.1 -1.2 -1.1 -1
C.10 0 0 0 6.1

 

The results indicate variable changes in the body compositions for the two groups of participants. These changes are not dependent on calcium supplementation. Each of these changes were significant within the two groups (p = 0.000) but not between the group

Body Weight Changes

The body weight before and after the experiments for both group of participants can be represented as in the graph below.

Figure 1. Body Weight Changes

From these graphs, there are changes in body weight in both groups. These changes are not consistent in any group.

Body Fat Content Changes

The body fat content (%) for the two groups of participants before (1) and after the experimental period (2) is as shown in the graph below.

Figure 2. Body Fat Changes

Body fat content changed in all the participants from both groups in an inconsistent trend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISCUSSION

Several studies that have been previously conducted on the effects of calcium supplementation on body composition have shown related changes in body weight and body fat content. Harvey-Berino (2005) have shown that calcium intake, and body weight and body fat content are inversely related(Harvey-Berino et al. 2005). In other studies, the calcium in dairy products is responsible for the reduction in body weight and body fat mass(Shahar et al. 2007). With the inadequacy of longitudinal studies on the general effects of calcium intake on these body characteristics, the current research is a professional contribution to the existing body of knowledge(Harvey-Berino et al. 2005).

From the results of this research, there are no significant differences in weight, fat and lean mass of the subjects. The changes in these body compositions were not consistent with the calcium intake levels and more consistent with the activity levels of the participants. This, therefore, indicates that there is no association between calcium supplementation and changes in the body composition. The changes observed in this research were inconsistent and probably associated with other factors such as genetic factors, lifestyle and the general diet of the participants which are the confounding factors in this study(Davies et al. 2000).

The results are consistent with many studies previously conducted. Reidt et al., (2005) conducted a randomized, double-blind controlled trials among 1471 women. 30 months Calcium supplementation in these postmenopausal women had no significant change in body weight(Riedt et al. 2007). Venti et al.(2005) conducted a study on 50 healthy overweight and obese participants who were subjected to an energy-controlled diet with increased calcium intake in the form of dairy food(Venti et al. 2005). From the results, this high calcium diet did not affect the body weight after the 12 weeks experimental period(Dicker et al. 2008). Further, Teegarden andGunther (2008) reported that a 3-month treatment of 62 obese women with 1 g per day calcium supplementation had no effect on the weight of the subjects(Teegarden & Gunther 2008).

As observed from these reference studies, the calcium supplementation has no significant effects on the body composition(Venti et al. 2005). Even when the participants are in a controlled study with an energy-restricted diet, the intake of calcium does not lead to a reduction in body weight or body fat content(Torres et al. 2011). The results of this study, therefore, did not support the hypothesis that calcium supplementation at 500 mg per day has beneficial effects on body weight and body fat loss over a period of six weeks. The changes observed on these variables were inconsistent with the intervention and hence not associated. This, therefore, implies that calcium supplementation at 500mg daily for six weeks cannot be used in a moderate weight loss program.

Critical Appraisal

This research was conducted on a sample of ten participants who were pretested to identify their calcium intakes at the beginning of the research. Although the sample size is relatively small, the treatment was uniform for both the experimental and control groups. In addition, the measurement tools were identical, and this minimized errors in measurement. The study design also helped to minimize biases and the probability of errors in measurements.

The confounding factors earlier mentioned, age, activity level, genetics, and lifestyle may have affected the measurements. However, since inconsistent results were obtained for both groups of participants, the errors brought about by these factors were incorporated to indicate that the intervention was not responsible for the changes in the variables being tested. This helped to identify other factors that caused the changes in body weight and fat content and hence reject the null hypothesis.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the major finding from the present study is that calcium supplementation at 500mg per day for six weeks does not lead to any alteration in the body weight, body fat, and lean mass. It was found that although there were changes in these aspects of body composition for the subjects, the change could not be associated with the calcium intake as it happened to those on supplementation and those on placebo alike. This, therefore, means that there was no association between calcium supplementation and body composition changes(Dicker et al. 2008).

The study was not a short-term trial, and the duration of intervention was logical enough to bring out the required results. This is because most weight loss programs witness results within the first three weeks. It is therefore expected that if there were any association, the results would be measurable within the first four weeks, and the trend observed for two more weeks. However, the study was conducted on only a small population of people. Future studies should consider using a larger study population to obtain varied results. Further, the participants’ daily diets and lifestyle was not monitored. In the future, it is recommended that a similar study with the subjects having a similar or controlled diet will be necessary to minimize the effects of the confounding factors.

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