Calcium is arguably the most important nutrient mothers must take. But why is it required and how much calcium do mothers need?
Why Do Nursing Mothers Require More Calcium
During pregnancy, the baby requires calcium to form bones. This need is especially demanding during the last 3 months of pregnancy. If the mother does not consume enough diet from her diet, the baby will siphon calcium from the mother’s bone which leads to increased risk of osteoporosis for the mother. A prolonged lack of calcium will also lead to hair loss and
Lactating women are also more susceptible to calcium loss. When a mother breastfeeds, their estrogen (a hormone that protects our bones from deteriorating) is significantly lowered which causes bone erosion. Therefore they require calcium to fortify their bones and counteract the erosion.
How Much Calcium Do I Need
Calcium is important for everyone for good bone health. However, according to Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), 1000 milligrams of calcium is needed every for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Mothers can get calcium from various sources such as meat, milk, and vegetables.
Importance of Calcium while Breastfeeding
- Improves Bone Health
While breastfeeding, calcium deficiency is common since the child’s requirement for calcium increases as it grows. Typically, if the lactating mother does not consume enough calcium for their diet, the body will siphon calcium from their bones to the breastmilk. Therefore, nursing mothers should take an adequate amount of calcium to avoid unnecessary calcium loss.
- Improves Oral Health
Calcium not only fortifies the integrity of our bones but also our teeth. The lack of calcium leads to loosening teeth which negatively impacts our oral health.
Should Mothers Take Calcium Supplements When Breastfeeding?
While it is not necessary to take calcium supplements when you’re breastfeeding, it is generally encouraged to. However, experts recommend that mothers should prioritize eating foods naturally rich in calcium rather than eating calcium supplements as natural sources of calcium can be absorbed into our bodies more efficiently.
Foods Rich In Calcium
Foods that are rich in calcium include:
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- Broccoli, kale, collard greens
- Tofu, dried beans, salmon, sardines.
- Almonds, sesame seeds
Dairy products such as milk contain the highest natural calcium compared to other natural sources and as such, it is an excellent source to replenish calcium. However, most Asians have lactose intolerance, the inability to digest lactose, a common sugar commonly available in milk. Most milk contains lactose and this is why some adults feel nauseous after consuming milk.
To overcome lactose intolerance symptoms, mothers can choose to drink goat milk over cow milk. Goat milk contains lesser lactose than cow milk and it contains at least 3 times more calcium than cow milk, making it the ideal milk for Asian mothers to consume. Moreover, goat milk also contains rich vitamin D which serves as a vessel to transport calcium and thus boosting its absorption rate.
Taking good care of your diet post-delivery should take precedent as a good and healthy body leads to a happy motherhood.