Daily drinking of generous servings of milk or eating milk products that are rich in calcium and vitamin D can help you lose weight better than any diet that excludes such dairy components or includes only a minimum of them.This surprising fact was revealed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers, who published their study in the latest issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.Regardless of the diet, researchers found that study participants with the highest dairy calcium intake – about 580 mg. of dairy calcium or 340 grams of milk or other dairy products – lost about six kg. by the end of the two years of this diet.In comparison, those with the lowest dairy calcium intake averaging about 150 mg. dairy calcium, or about half of a glass, lost only three kg. on average.Beyond calcium, the researchers also found that blood levels of vitamin D independently affected weight loss success. Vitamin D levels increased among those who lost more weight.The dietary intervention study also confirmed other research that overweight participants have lower blood levels of vitamin D.In the US and many other Western countries, milk and milk products are enriched with vitamin D. In Israel however, despite years of promises by the Health Ministry, only one-percent-fat milk is required to have vitamin D added; there is higherfat milk in cartons that is also enriched with the vitamin, but the prices are significantly higher even though the vitamin is cheap. One can also enrich one’s diet with vitamin D drops bought in pharmacies and health food stores. More than 300 overweight men and women aged 40 to 65 participated in the study evaluating low-fat, Mediterranean or low-carbohydrates diets for two years. Senior lecturer Dr. Danit Shahar, of the Beersheba University’s S.Daniel Abraham Center for Health and Nutrition and the Faculty of Health Sciences, led the study. It was part of the Dietary Intervention Randomized Control Trial (DIRECT) conducted at Israel’s Nuclear Research Center.“It was known that overweight people had lower levels of serum vitamin D, but this is the first study that actually shows that serum Vitamin D increased among people who lost weight. This result lasted throughout the two years that the study was conducted, regardless of whether they were on a lowcarb, low-fat or Mediterranean diet,” said Shahar.Vitamin D increases calcium absorption in the bloodstream and in addition to sun exposure can be obtained from fortified milk, fatty fish and eggs. Israelis and Americans generally consume less than the recommended daily requirement of Vitamin D found in four glasses of milk (400 international units).The study was supported by the Health Ministry, the Israel Dairy Council, the Chief Scientist’s Office in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment, the German Research Foundation and the Dr. Robert and Veronica Atkins Research Foundation.