If you are breastfeeding you do not need a significantly higher calcium intake to provide your baby with more calcium. Breastfeeding mothers need calcium to recover bone density lost during pregnancy, according to eMedTV. Your developing baby takes up calcium from you, therefore, whether you are breastfeeding or not, you need to rebuild your store of calcium. If your calcium needs can't be met with food, supplementing with calcium supplements is a good option.
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Calcium Requirements for Breastfeeding Mothers
If you are breastfeeding you have the same daily calcium requirements as other women, whether pregnant or not, explains KellyMom.com. The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily dose of 1,000 milligrams for if you are breasteeding and over 18. If you are younger than 18 you should take 1,300 milligrams per day. If you consume dairy regularly you get your daily intake from food but others will have to take calcium supplements.
Calcium and Breastfeeding
Your body makes up for calcium lost in the bones during pregnancy and early stages of nursing in two ways. First, less calcium is excreted in the urine and secondly, the low level of estrogen in nursing mothers promotes increased absorption of calcium, according to the Winter 2005 issue of "The Journal of Perinatal Education." It is during this breastfeeding period that you may need to rebuild calcium in your bones. Calcium supplements, therefore, provide greater benefits to you if you are breastfeeding than to other women because they are absorbed to a greater extent at this stage.
Calcium Supplements to Use
The presence of magnesium improves the absorption of calcium. The ideal ratio between calcium and magnesium for proper absorption in a calcium supplement is 2:1. Furthermore, since dairy is an important source of zinc alongside calcium, it is important to choose a calcium supplement containing zinc if you are not taking dairy while breastfeeding. Instead of taking a supplement with only calcium, you should take a supplement with calcium, magnesium and zinc combined, recommends KellyMom.com. A daily dose of 1,500 milligrams is ideal for such calcium supplement, although vegetarians can still meet their daily calcium target with 600 to 700 milligrams. This is because vegetarians are apt to consume other food sources rich in calcium and also because they avoid meat which contains phosphorus responsible for reducing calcium absorption.
Osteoporosis and Calcium Levels During Breastfeeding
Studies have shown that women who replenish their bone calcium levels while breastfeeding record a lower incidence of hip fracture and osteoporosis later in life when compared to those who do not. This renewal of bone density proves to be essential in maintaining bone mass and a high activity in the bones. Calcium supplementation during breastfeeding is, therefore, essential for women who are not meeting the daily calcium requirement during that period.
- Baby Zone: The Nursing Mother's Diet
- Kelly Mom: Calcium
- Breastfeeding.com: Calcium Needs During Lactation
- eMedTV: Calcium and Breastfeeding
- Institute of Medicine: RDA and AIs: Vitamins
- The Journal of Perinatal Education: Continuing Education Module—Maternal Calcium Intake and Metabolism During Pregnancy and Lactation