Since pregnancy weakens the bones, it is important for breastfeeding women to consume enough calcium. Breastfeeding women do not need more calcium than the average person, but it is important for them to take the recommended Adequate Intake (AI). Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider to figure out how much calcium you need each day.
An Overview of Calcium and Breastfeeding
It is important for breastfeeding women to get enough calcium. Not only does adequate calcium help to strengthen a baby's bones, it also helps to prevent weakening of the mom's bones as well. Pregnancy weakens the bones (due to the calcium demands of the developing fetus). This is why it is especially important to get plenty of calcium after pregnancy (whether you are breastfeeding or not), in order to help your bones recover from the pregnancy.
Breastfeeding women can meet their daily calcium requirement either through calcium-rich foods or through calcium supplements.
Am I Getting Enough Calcium While Breastfeeding?
Most women have a fairly good idea about whether they consume enough calcium or not. Are you one of those women who practically lives on milk, cheese, and other dairy? Or do you struggle to choke down even a small glass of milk? Either way, you probably know whether you are likely to be deficient of not.
The recommended Adequate Intake (AI) of calcium for breastfeeding women is 1000 mg per day (or 1300 mg per day, for women 18 years or younger). This is exactly the same amount recommended for all other people (including pregnant women) of the same age. Many women easily get enough calcium through a healthy and well-rounded diet. However, many women will need to take calcium supplements, especially if they do not consume much dairy.
Keep in mind that prenatal vitamins or multivitamins do not contain much calcium. Calcium is a bulky mineral, and adding a large dose of calcium to a prenatal vitamin would make the tablets too large to swallow.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed October 21 2008.
National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement fact sheet: calcium (9/23/2005). NIH Web site. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/calcium.asp. Accessed October 13, 2008.
Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999. Available at: http://books.nap.edu/books/0309063507/html/index.html. Accessed October 21, 2008.
eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind.
Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click