Benefits, Weight Loss, and Side Effects

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Pyruvate is produced by glycolysis, a process in which carbohydrates are broken down to create energy.

Calcium pyruvate is a popular supplement that many people use primarily for its purported weight loss benefits.

You may wonder what the research says about calcium pyruvate.

This article reviews what the current evidence suggests about calcium pyruvate for weight loss, its other potential benefits and downsides, as well as how to use it.

Proponents of calcium pyruvate claim that it has many health benefits, but the evidence for most of them is minimal or mixed.

May aid weight loss and obesity

Calcium pyruvate is said to promote weight loss by boosting fat breakdown in the body.

Pyruvate is involved in the metabolic cycle to produce energy in your body, so theoretically it makes sense that taking it as a supplement could increase the amount of energy and fat burn you experience.

In one older study, women with obesity ate a 1,000-calorie diet for 21 days, with a group of them also taking high doses of 6 teaspoons (30 grams) of calcium pyruvate per day. Women in this group experienced 48% greater fat loss (1).

Note that consuming 1,000 calories per day is very low and not adequate or sustainable for most people. While weight loss was seen in the aforementioned study, it’s unclear whether pyruvate has any effect when paired with a regular-calorie diet.

What’s more, some studies show no indication that supplementing with pyruvate helps reduce body weight (2).

May have anti-inflammatory effects

Animal research suggests that calcium pyruvate may have anti-inflammatory characteristics that may benefit gastrointestinal and bone health.

One animal study found that supplementing with calcium pyruvate for 7 days reduced inflammation among rats with drug-induced inflammation of the colon (3).

Another animal study noted that supplementing with calcium pyruvate improved not only inflammation but also the immune status of rats with drug-induced chronic post-inflammatory pain that resembled irritable bowel syndrome (4).

Furthermore, one study looked at the effects of dietary calcium pyruvate supplementation on the growth and intestinal health of newly-weaned piglets on low protein diets (5).

The authors observed that adding calcium pyruvate to the low protein diet was an effective alternative to amino acids, improving intestinal health and the growth of the young piglets (5).

Furthermore, inflammatory conditions with a high prevalence of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak and porous bones, may benefit from calcium pyruvate. That’s because it provides calcium, a critical nutrient for bone health, and may help reduce inflammation (3, 4).

Other potential benefits

Calcium pyruvate is said to offer a number of other potential benefits, though there isn’t much evidence to support them.

Some other common claims include:

  • May protect vision. Some older animal studies indicate that calcium pyruvate may help prevent or delay the formation of cataracts (6, 7).
  • May have immune-boosting effects. Calcium pyruvate supplements have been observed to benefit immune function in rats with drug-induced irritable bowel disease (IBD) (8).
  • May support heart health. In one study in pigs recovering from cardiopulmonary bypass surgery, administering pyruvate benefited heart function (9).
  • May support exercise performance. While there are anecdotal reports of calcium pyruvate improving energy levels and combating fatigue for endurance athletes, the evidence is mixed, with some studies finding no effect (10).

More long-term research is needed on the health benefits of calcium pyruvate supplements in humans and specific applications.

SUMMARY

Calcium pyruvate is a popular supplement often used to promote weight loss. It may have anti-inflammatory effects that could benefit gut and bone health, though more research is needed. Most other claims about pyruvate lack solid research.

Calcium pyruvate is considered to be most likely safe, as long as it’s taken in recommended doses. However, some people may experience unwanted effects, especially when taking larger doses.

Some of the most commonly reported side effects from using calcium pyruvate are gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea, gas, and bloating, that appear to increase in severity with larger doses (2).

Side effects may be improved by lowering the dose or stopping the supplement altogether.

SUMMARY

While few side effects of calcium pyruvate have been reported, some people may experience stomach upset, especially when taking larger doses.

Calcium pyruvate is most commonly taken orally in powdered or capsule form. Typical dosages appear to range widely from 0.5–6 teaspoons (2–30 grams) per day according to what has been used in various studies but likely vary by brand and intended use (11, 12, 13).

Note that most consumers should probably use dosages on the lower end, as the higher doses used in research studies are likely unnecessary for the general healthy population.

Some people should avoid using calcium pyruvate altogether. For example, pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn’t take it primarily due to a lack of safety evidence.

Furthermore, while there is minimal information available about pyruvate interacting with any medications, this is always a possibility. Speak to your healthcare provider before starting a calcium pyruvate supplement to make sure it’s safe for you.

SUMMARY

Typical doses of calcium pyruvate can range from 0.5–6 teaspoons (2–30 grams) per day, with the latter being high. Due to a lack of safety and drug interaction evidence, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider before using it.

Calcium pyruvate is a popular supplement often taken in hopes of supporting weight loss goals or improving exercise endurance.

However, evidence to substantiate most of the claims about pyruvate is lacking. Furthermore, many pyruvate studies are largely outdated or were conducted in animals.

While calcium pyruvate supplements appear to carry a low risk of side effects, most potential benefits appear to require large doses. That said, larger doses ring a higher risk of side effects.

More research is needed among humans to determine the best uses and benefits of calcium pyruvate.

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