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Abstract

Bone mobilization, lowering of bone mineral density (BMD), and osteoporotic fractures are recognized in postmenopausal women with weight loss. Because a high-calcium intake suppresses bone loss in peri- and postmenopausal women, the present randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was designed to test the hypothesis that calcium supplementation prevents net bone mobilization and consequent bone mineral loss during voluntary weight reduction in obese postmenopausal women. Subjects were placed on a moderate energy-restricted diet and either calcium supplementation (1 g/day) or placebo for 6 months. Body weight, bone turnover markers (pyridinium cross-links), osteocalcin, and parathyroid hormone (PTH) were measured at treatment weeks 1–5, 7, 10, 13, 16, 20, and 25. Total body BMD, insulin-like growth factor, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) were measured at baseline and week 25. The calcium supplemented (n = 15; age 60.9 ± 9.4 years, body mass index [BMI] 33.2 ± 4.6 kg/m2) and placebo (n = 16; age 55.8 ± 8.3 years, BMI 32.9 ± 4.5 kg/m2) groups lost similar amounts of weight over the study interval (10.2 ± 5.3% vs. 10.0 ± 5.2%) and both groups increased SHBG (p < 0.001). There was a statistical effect of calcium supplementation during weight loss to suppress pyridinium cross-links, osteocalcin, and PTH (p < 0.05, < 0.01, and < 0.05, respectively). Loss of BMD tended to be greater in the placebo group by 1.4% (p < 0.08) after weight loss. One gram per day calcium supplementation normalizes the increased calcium–PTH axis activity and the elevated bone turnover rate observed during moderate voluntary energy restriction in postmenopausal women.