Calcium intake post pregnancy

  • Why calcium is required in lactating women?
    • Nutrient need increases during pregnancy and lactation to support fetal growth and breast milk synthesis respectively1. Calcium is essential both during pregnancy and lactation for proper formation of bones and teeth of the offspring, for secretion of breast milk rich in calcium and to prevent osteoporosis in the mother2.


  • Why calcium is lost in lactating mothers?
    • Some women may lose some of their bone density during lactation, and then regain it after cessation of lactation3. The bone density loss may be caused by the increased need of calcium by the growing baby, which is drawn from mother’s bones4.
    • Women may also lose bone mass during breastfeeding because they are producing less estrogen, a hormone that protects the bones4.


  • How much amount of calcium is required by women during breastfeeding?
    • The recommended dietary allowances of calcium during breastfeeding is 1200 mg/ day5.


  • What should you do to increase calcium intake during breastfeeding?

    To increase calcium intake, you should do things such as:

    • Drink at least one glass of milk every day.
    • Have one cup of curd every day.
    • Exposure to morning sunlight every day.
    • Take green leafy vegetables daily.
    • Take one cup ragi every day5.


  • When do you lose more calcium-during pregnancy or during breastfeeding?
    • A mother loses 4 times more calcium during 9 months of exclusive breastfeeding than that in pregnancy5.


  1. King JC. Effect of reproduction on bioavailability of calcium, zinc and selenium. J Nutr.2001;131:1355S-1358S
  2. NIN Dietary Guidelines for Indians, 2011
  3. Herenghausen J. Montgomery KS. Meternal calcium intake and metabolism during pregnancy and lactation. J Perinat Educ. 2015;14(1),52-57
  4. Pregnancy, breast feeding and bone health , NIH Osteoporosis and related bone diseases -National resource center
  5. National Guidelines for Calcium Supplementation During Pregnancy and Lactation. Maternal Health Division Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Government of India, December-2014
  6. Kovacs CS et al. Maternal-fetal calcium and bone metabolism during pregnancy, puerperium, and lactation, Endocrine Reviews. 1997;18(6):832-72


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