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How much calcium do I need if I am breastfeeding?

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health
In November 2010 the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the organization that reviews research and makes recommendations about vitamins and dietary supplements, issued new guidelines for calcium. They recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding teens should get 1300 mg of calcium daily, with a maximum daily intake of 3000 mg. They recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women 19 years and older should get 1000 mg of calcium daily, with a maximum daily intake of 2500 mg.

Teens and women in their twenties are still developing the internal bone structure, called trabecular bone, that provides much of the strength to the skeleton and is also the bone that is lost with age. Getting enough daily calcium, perhaps especially while pregnant or breastfeeding, not only makes sure the developing infant is healthy, but also protects the mother's health for years to come.
It is especially important for you to get 1,200 mg of calcium daily while you are breastfeeding. Your body routes calcium to your milk supply before it uses the calcium to fortify your bones. If you do not consume enough calcium, your baby will still receive calcium through breast milk but your body will not, putting you at increased risk for osteoporosis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.