Calcium pyruvate is sold as a nutritional supplement marketed as a weight-loss aid that builds muscle mass and decreases the percentage of body fat. Pyruvate represents a salt form of pyruvic acid in its unstable form. Calcium is added to the compound to stabilize the acid for absorption by the body.
Pyruvate exists in red apples, red wine, cheese, and dark beer in small amounts. Some fruits, vegetables, and cheese are also rich in this nutrient, which helps the body produce energy. The body naturally produces pyruvate in minute amounts, which health experts consider sufficient to digest carbohydrates and regulate metabolism. For example, a person would have to eat 70 apples a day to attain the levels of calcium pyruvate used in weight-loss studies.
The recommended daily intake is 5 grams a day, or 5,000 micrograms daily. In weight-loss studies, participants ingested 30 grams, or 30,000 micrograms, a day, which might be considered an expensive supplement as a weight-loss aid. Most supplements sold in health-food stores contain 750 micrograms per capsule.
Athletes, especially those who compete in endurance sports, commonly use calcium pyruvate to increase their level of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which might provide energy needed to sustain physical activity over a long period of time. ATP is produced in the human body by calcium pyruvate and is responsible for transporting glucose and proteins to the muscles. Supplements are also popular with body-builders.
Studies of the substance in rats showed it raised the resting metabolism rate, but the research was not repeated using humans. Another research project involved obese women who took 30 grams of calcium pyruvate daily. They lost 50 percent more weight than women given a placebo, but some health experts credit the weight loss to a healthy diet and exercise.
Another study administered 22 to 44 grams of the supplement each day to overweight women. After six weeks, average weight loss was 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg). Statistically, the benefits of this supplement for losing weight are usually rejected by the medical community.
Side effects of the compound in high doses include more frequent bowel movements that might develop into diarrhea. Bloating and excess gas have also been reported. Some people who use the supplement notice an increase in appetite because energy is burned more rapidly.
Some people ingest the supplement as an anti-aging aid. As an antioxidant, it is marketed to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Pyruvate has also been injected into the coronary arteries to treat heart failure and cardiac shock with some success.