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Calcium May Enhance Probiotic Performance

If you take a probiotic, you may want to take a calcium supplement as well. According to a new study from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany, the growth of good bacteria found in a probiotic gets a boost from calcium.

The findings were published in Clinical Nutrition online ahead of print on October 19, 2011.

Study participants included 34 omnivorous men and women who had somewhat high cholesterol levels. Over the course of four weeks, half of the participants consumed a drink containing 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs) of L. paracasei daily and one group consumed the same drink but with an added supplement of one gram of calcium phosphate.

After completely the four week intervention, all of the participants had a two week “washout period,” a time when they were not taking any supplement, and then two weeks of consuming a placebo. Following that one month period, the groups switched interventions for four more weeks.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted enhanced colonization of the probiotic in the gut when it was taken with the calcium. Higher levels of good bacteria in the gut tend to result in greater health benefits for the person taking a probiotic.

The researchers also noted that the probiotic plus calcium intervention resulted in a notable re-duction in overall cholesterol levels and specifically LDL cholesterol levels. They are unsure if the cholesterol lowering effects are due to the combo or calcium alone. However, given that the amount of cholesterol lowering was approximately the same as previous calcium alone studies, they believe it may be due to just the calcium.

L. paracasei has also been associated with aiding gut flora and improving digestive system function. It can be found naturally in dairy products or can be consumed in supplement form.

Calcium has been shown to aid bone health, help with weight loss, skin health, and reducing the risk of colorectal cancer and stroke. Some studies have even suggested that calcium intake is associated with longevity.

Calcium absorption decreases as we age, so it is especially important to make sure you are getting enough of it in your diet or through a high quality supplement.

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