December 20/Beijing/Dairy Herd Network -- Researchers from China have found the dietary calcium from dairy and other foods is superior to calcium supplements when it comes to weight management in women.

“Dietary calcium from food, rather than elemental calcium from calcium supplements, has beneficial effects on the maintenance of body composition and preventing abdominal obesity in Chinese women,” researchers said in an article that was published on the Plos One sharing network for peer-reviewed scientific and medical research. 

The researchers recruited 8,940 people, aged 20-74, for the study. From that number, data were collected from 2,433 men and 4,279 women. Respondents kept track of their physical activity and dietary patterns via questionnaires. 

A questionnaire on the use of calcium as a supplement also was administered. “Respondents self-reported whether they used calcium supplements over the past decade,” the article said. “The information on using calcium supplements included the time, dose, and category of calcium supplements.”

Researchers found inverse associations between abdominal obesity and dietary calcium intake in Chinese women, but not in men.

“In our study, though it is hard to explain why high habitual dietary calcium intake has beneficial effects only in women, a possible explanation may be the effects of women’s sex hormones,” researchers noted.

The researchers, from Harbin Medical University in China, also noted that their study was observational in nature and, therefore, should be interpreted with caution. They suggested further work be done.

 From the December 21, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.