Calcium is a vital mineral during pregnancy and lactation (breast feeding). As commonly known, it is essential for the development of strong, healthy bones and teeth in the baby. Calcium is also required for proper growth and functioning of muscles, as well as the nervous and circulatory systems. It must be present in adequate amounts to develop a normal heart rhythm and blood clotting capacity.
As is typically the case during pregnancy and lactation, the baby gets priority over the mother. If a mother is not getting enough dietary calcium, her body will pull calcium from her bones to meet the needs of her baby. This can set the stage for problems with bone health, particularly osteoporosis.
The recommended daily intake of calcium for pregnant and lactating women 24 or older is 1200 mg per day. For women under 24, the amount is 1500 mg per day. Numerous studies have confirmed that it is better to get calcium from food sources than from supplements. There are good food sources of calcium which women should focus on including in their diets while pregnant or lactating. These will be covered in the next blog.