Calcium Requirements for New Moms

Bone Up on Calcium
Some nursing mothers fear that breastfeeding may rob their bodies of valuable vitamins and minerals, especially calcium. While it’s true that women do lose some bone mass to support milk production, breastfeeding does not jeopardize a woman’s overall bone health, says Joan Meek, MD, editor-in-chief of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ book “A New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding.” In fact, the daily calcium recommendations for nursing and non-nursing women are exactly the same: 1,000 milligrams for those 19 years of age and older; 1,300 milligrams for those 18 and younger.

Most important, all women (whether they’re nursing or not) should maintain a diet high in calcium-rich foods, such as milk, cheese and yogurt. If you are lactose-intolerant or looking for an alternative to dairy products, calcium is also found in canned fish (such as salmon), tofu, almonds and dark-green leafy vegetables. These foods will keep bones strong and help fend off the onset of osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become brittle and more prone to fractures. So go ahead and bone-up on calcium-rich foods—your body (and baby) will thank you.

Nutrition Tip
Fulfilling your daily calcium requirement is easy if you maintain a proper diet. Stock up on these calcium-packed foods:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) low-fat plain yogurt = 415 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 1 cup collards, cooked = 357 mg
  • 1 cup sardines = 351 mg
  • 1 cup almonds = 332 mg
  • 1 cup skim milk = 302 mg
  • 1 ounce Swiss cheese = 272 mg
  • 1 cup tofu = 260 mg
  • 1 ounce American cheese = 174 mg
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese = 155 mg
  • 5 ounces tapioca pudding = 119 mg