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Study Shows Milk and Other Dairy Products May Have Weight Loss Benefits

Sept 22, 2010 -- Drinking milk may help you get rid of unwanted weight.

Drinking higher amounts of milk or eating other dairy foods may help you win the battle of the bulge, according to new research published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Adults who ate or drank the highest amount of dairy per day -- about 12 ounces of milk or 580 milligrams of dairy calcium -- at six months lost about 12 pounds at the end of the two-year study. People who got the least amount of calcium from dairy foods -- about 150 milligrams of dairy calcium, or half of a glass of milk per day -- lost 7 pounds after two years. Higher levels of vitamin D in the blood were also linked with successful weight loss, the study showed.

More than 300 overweight men and women aged 40 to 65 followed a low-fat diet, a low-carb diet, or a Mediterranean-style diet. All foods were readily available in the cafeteria at their workplace.

Participants filled out questionnaires regarding how many dairy products (and other foods) they ate or drank. The dairy section comprised 12 foods, such as low- and regular-fat milk, chocolate milk, low- and regular-fat yogurt, and yellow and white hard cheeses. Researchers also measured participants’ blood levels of vitamin D and body mass index (BMI).

"Our study suggests that both higher dairy calcium intake and increased [blood] vitamin D are related to greater diet-induced weight loss," conclude the researchers, who were led by Danit R. Shahar, of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel.

Exactly how -- or if -- dairy foods aid in weight loss is not fully understood. Several theories exist, including the possibility that eating more calcium results in losing more fat via the stool, the study researchers say.

Vitamin D and Weight Loss

Overweight participants had lower blood levels of vitamin D when the study began, but vitamin D levels increased among those who lost more weight. The higher the blood levels of vitamin D, the greater the weight loss, the study showed.

Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin because our bodies make it when exposed to sunlight. Recent studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to a host of medical problems, including heart disease and certain cancers.

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