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Experts Corner

Nutrition

Calcium Requirements During Pregnancy and Lactation
By Mediconsult's Nutrition Services

Q. How much calcium do I need during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

A. During pregnancy and lactation experts recommend increasing your dairy intake from 2-3 servings to 3-4 servings a day. This recommendation reflects the important role of calcium during your baby's development and growth. Calcium is a mineral used in the body for a multitude of functions. It is used during pregnancy and lactation for fetal and infant bone and teeth development, breastmilk production, and for protection of maternal calcium stores. It is also necessary for proper blood clotting and regulation of blood pressure, heartbeat, water balance in cells, and muscle contractions.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is set at 1,200 milligrams (mg) during pregnancy and lactation. Careful attention to dietary sources of calcium usually achieve adequate intakes of this mineral. However, deficiency can be a risk if you are a strict vegetarian requiring more prudent dietary choices. Prenatal vitamins contain very little calcium and are not a good source of this mineral during pregnancy. If taking calcium as a supplement, do not take it at the same time as your prenatal vitamin-mineral supplement since iron and calcium are best absorbed when taken separately.

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