Calcium: It Does a Baby Good

by Sally Tusa

Calcium: It Does a Baby Good

Think you’re milking your food for maximum calcium potential? You may not be, say experts. The majority of pregnant women don’t take in nearly enough calcium: It’s recommended that you get 1,200 mg a day when you’re expecting. Although that equals about four glasses of milk, women who can’t stomach that much dairy may feel that goal is out of reach.

But make no bones about it: Increasing your calcium intake is just as important for your developing baby’s health as it is for yours. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, showed that babies whose moms consumed less than 600 mg of calcium a day during pregnancy had 15 percent lower bone density than babies whose moms got up to 2,000 mg of calcium a day by taking calcium supplements during pregnancy. “The old teaching was that babies will get what they need, even if (the mother doesn’t), but this suggests that that’s not true,” says John Repke, M.D., chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

There are many different supplements available on drugstore shelves. What distinguishes each is its content: the amount of elemental calcium combined with an ingredient that eases its absorption into your body. Choose your supplement carefully: A new study shows that the body may actually be able to access more of the mineral when it’s in the form of calcium citrate, despite the fact that carbonate supplements are higher in elemental calcium. Translation: More isn’t always better, especially if you can’t use it.