Health Benefits of Calcium
A pregnant woman's need for calcium goes up in the third trimester, when the baby's skeleton is rapidly developing. "The fetal skeleton gets what it needs, no matter what, even if it has to leech essentials from its mother's bones," says Murray Favus, MD, director of the bone program and professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. But nature is on Mom's side too: "A woman's body can sense the increased needs of the fetus and produce more vitamin D. This enables pregnant women and nursing moms to absorb more of the calcium that's in their food," says Ruth Frechman, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, in Los Angeles.
For Mom and Baby
It helps your baby grow and fortifies your breast milk. But calcium also benefits Mom's health:
- Fewer PMS symptoms. A study at the National Institute of Mental Health found that women who took 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily reduced overall PMS symptoms by more than 50 percent.
- Less body fat. A study from the University of Tennessee showed that a diet high in low-fat dairy food may spur fat cells to produce less fat.
Good News! Experts say pregnancy can be a great time for bone health. First, you are able to absorb more calcium. Second, your body is creating bone-strengthening estrogen. Finally, a Mom's overall skeleton gets strength training thanks to the weight of her baby.