Effects of supplemental dietary calcium on quantitative and qualitative fecal fat excretion in man

Ann Nutr Metab. 1994;38(4):185-91. doi: 10.1159/000177810.


Oral calcium supplementation is thought to be a useful interventional agent to decrease colon cancer risk. This is supposedly due, at least in part, to the binding of bile acids and fatty acids by calcium in the colon, thus prohibiting the damaging effects of these substances to the epithelium. To determine the effects of calcium supplementation on fecal fat excretion, 24 subjects kept a fat and calcium constant diet for one week and were supplemented with either 0, 2 or 4 g elemental calcium as calcium carbonate in a double-blind fashion. At the end of the week 72-hour feces was collected, and total fat, neutral fat, fatty acids and the ratio of polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids (P/S ratio) were measured. Calcium dose-dependently increased the percentual excretion of total fat as related to fat intake: 6.8 +/- 0.9% during 0 g, 7.4 +/- 1.0% during 2 g and 10.2 +/- 1.4% during 4 g, r = 0.44, p = 0.03. This was due to increased fatty acid excretion, excretion of neutral fat was not affected, nor was the P/S ratio. It is concluded that calcium supplementation modestly increases fecal fatty acid excretion. No adverse metabolic effects are to be expected from this in case of long-term calcium supplementation in subjects at increased risk for colon cancer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Calcium / administration & dosage*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Calcium Carbonate / administration & dosage
  • Diet*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Feces*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Male
  • Phosphates / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Phosphates
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Calcium