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USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine

Consumer News--Nutrition & Your Child



Volume 3, 2003

Do I need extra calcium while breastfeeding my baby?

If your diet is already calcium rich, you probably don't need calcium supplements while breastfeeding.If you're diet is already calcium-rich, you probably don't need calcium supplements, said Dr. Steven Abrams. Studies have shown that giving nursing women supplemental calcium has had no affect on their mineral balance, which is why the calcium recommendations for nursing and nonnursing women are exactly the same: 1000 milligrams per day for those 19 years of age and older and 1300 milligrams for those 18 and younger.

However, breastfeeding women who have difficulty meeting their basic calcium needs might benefit from calcium supplements, such as the 200 to 250 milligrams found in multivitamins given to pregnant and nursing women. There are also some groups of women who might benefit from more calcium while breastfeeding. These include women breastfeeding more than one infant, those who have had closely spaced pregnancies and nursing adolescents.

Although women do lose some bone mass to support milk production, breastfeeding is not detrimental to a woman's overall bone health, says Abrams. That's because once menstruation resumes, the situation is readily reversed. Some studies also suggest that breastfeeding might actually decrease the risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis.




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