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Should I Take Calcium & Vitamin D Pills While Breastfeeding?

by
author image Linda Ray
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."
Should I Take Calcium & Vitamin D Pills While Breastfeeding?
You need calcium when breastfeeding to replace lost bone mass. Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Even women who are malnourished can successfully breastfeed a baby because of the body's inherent abilities to support life, according to UpToDate, a resource devoted to clinicians. At the same time, a balanced diet that includes healthy nutrients, coupled with vitamin and mineral supplements, such as calcium and vitamin D, adequate fluid intake and weight management provides mother and baby with the proper nourishment for growth. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements while breastfeeding, to make sure you don't take something that could harm your baby.

Bone Loss

Pregnancy and breastfeeding naturally deplete your bones of calcium, leading to bone loss. While taking excessive amounts of calcium will not prevent this bone loss, your body usually will compensate when you are finished breastfeeding and return to its former bone mass levels. A calcium supplement is appropriate when you're breastfeeding if you don't get enough calcium in your diet. Adult women need about 1000mg of calcium a day. The most effective dietary sources of calcium are dairy products and green vegetables.

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Absorption

Calcium cannot be properly absorbed in your bones without sufficient vitamin D. Women need about 800 IU of vitamin D a day for adequate calcium absorption. Sunlight is the best source of the nutrient and should provide you with enough vitamin D. If you need supplements, they are safe while you're breastfeeding and often are combined with calcium supplements. Milk is an effective dietary source of vitamin D. One cup provides you with about 100 IU.

Warning

You shouldn't take any other vitamins or supplements that contain calcium or vitamin D if you take a specific supplement approved by your doctor. It could lead to overdosing. Symptoms you might incur if you take too much calcium and vitamin D include dry mouth, stomach pain and an irregular heartbeat. You should seek emergency assistance if you have an allergic reaction and develop hives, have difficulty breathing or any swelling of your tongue, lips or throat. Other conditions that might preclude calcium and vitamin D supplements include circulation problems, kidney or heart disease and parathyroid gland disorder.

Considerations

Because of the natural bone loss you incur during pregnancy and while you're breastfeeding, you must be especially careful about getting sufficient calcium and vitamin D. While you may decide to diet to lose extra weight you gained during pregnancy, do not skimp on your milk. Switch to low or non-fat milk to reduce the amount of calories you get from your milk and make sure your doctor knows about your calorie reduction plan so she can recommend the proper supplements. You may need as many as 500 extra calories a day to maintain healthy breast milk for your baby.

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