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New study finds milk drinkers may have a healthy weight advantage

Research suggests boosting key milk nutrients calcium and vitamin D could aid weight loss

Now there's a new reason to grab a glass of milk when you're on diet, suggests a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In a 2-year weight loss study, milk drinkers had an advantage over those who skipped the milk. Israeli researchers found that adults who drank the most milk (nearly 2 glasses per day) and had the highest vitamin D levels at 6 months, lost more weight after 2 years than those who had little or no milk or milk products -- nearly 12 pounds weight loss, on average.

Researchers also found that each additional 6-ounce serving of milk or milk products (about 3/4 of a glass of milk) was associated with 10 pounds successful weight loss above the average, at 6 months.

More than 300 overweight or at risk men and women ages 40 – 65 participated in the study following low-fat, Mediterranean or low-carb diets for 2 years. Regardless of diet, researchers found participants with the highest dairy calcium intake 6 months into the study (averaging about 580mg per day – the amount in nearly 2 glasses of milk) lost about 12 pounds at the end of the 2 years, compared to about 7 pounds for those with the lowest dairy calcium intake (averaging about 150mg, or about half of a glass).

Beyond calcium, the researchers also found that vitamin D levels independently affected weight loss success and in line with previous research, milk and milk products were the top contributors to vitamin D in the diets of the study participants.

Despite the potential health benefits, many Americans are still not getting the recommended 400IU of vitamin D each day – the amount in four glasses of fat free or lowfat milk. This D-ficiency may put their health at risk, for healthy weight and beyond. Well known for its role in keeping bones strong, vitamin D is now being hailed for so much more. Emerging science suggests vitamin D may also help protect against diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and certain cancers. It also supports a healthy immune system.

Fat free milk is packed with nine essential nutrients Americans need, including calcium and vitamin D, and contains 80 calories per 8-ounce serving. Research suggests eating right, getting active and drinking the recommended three glasses of lowfat or fat free milk daily can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Shahar DR, Schwarzfuchs D, Fraser D, Vardi H, Thiery J, Fiedler GM, Blüher M, Stumvoll M, Stampfer MJ, Shai I. Dairy calcium intake, serum vitamin D, and successful weight loss. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010. Published ahead of print.

Lori Fromm | EurekAlert!
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