The 6 Nutrients Mothers Need Most

Calcium

  • Benefits for Moms

    Calcium is crucial -- and not just for your bones. Research at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville suggests that a high-calcium diet decreases the amount of fat that the body stores. The mineral also helps reduce PMS symptoms by up to 48%, according to a study at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. Finally, your body absorbs more calcium when you're pregnant, and research has shown that breastfeeding helps mothers build strong bones, says Joan Carter, R.D., a Houston-based spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
  • Your Daily Needs

    1,000 mg for all women ages 19 to 50

  • Great Sources

    1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt or calcium-fortified orange juice (350 mg), 1 cup skim milk (302 mg), 1 cup calcium-fortified soy milk (300 mg), 1 oz. Monterey Jack cheese (212 mg), 1/2 cup cooked collard greens (179 mg)
  • Runners-up

    2 Tbs. grated parmesan cheese (138 mg), 1/2 cup calcium-set tofu (130 mg), 1/4 cup canned salmon with bones (100 mg), 1 oz. almonds (80 mg), 1 cup cooked broccoli (72 mg), 1/2 cup white beans (65 mg)

  • Supplemental Advice

    If you don't like dairy products, you probably need to take a calcium supplement. Look for a brand with calcium carbonate -- you'll get the most absorbable calcium at the lowest price. If you don't take a multivitamin, make sure your calcium supplement contains vitamin D, which helps your body absorb the mineral, especially if you have dark skin or live in a climate where it's often cloudy.

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