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Calcium is one of the minerals that have special and particular importance throughout life. During childhood, an adequate intake of calcium ensures healthy bones and teeth, which is why it must be very present in the diet, but also, in women there are three essential moments in which its importance is even greater.
In the first place, during pregnancy, since the fetus is developing and its bones require an extra contribution, secondly, during lactation, since breast milk provides the necessary calcium for the correct feeding and growth of the baby, and thirdly, during menopause, when some of its fixing capacities are lost or worsened.
Childhood: In general, in children, the recommended intake ranges from 500-800mg daily to 1100mg during adolescence, a period in which there is a new growth peak. After this period, and upon reaching adulthood, the recommendation decreases to approximately 800mg per day.
Pregnancy: During pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause, an extra calcium intake of between 200 and 300mg is recommended above the usual recommendations, but always staying below the maximum level of safety, around 2000-2500mg, since, above all, it can cause constipation, increase the risk of stone formation and other kidney disorders and interfere with the absorption of other minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc. As a guideline, a glass of milk can be taken as a reference, which provides approximately 300mg of calcium.
Lactation: Curiously, the belief that breastfeeding affects the absorption of calcium and its subsequent fixation to the bone is quite widespread, so that prolonged breastfeeding would be a sure ticket for osteoporosis with the arrival of menopause. Also the number of pregnancies and the time space between them, would make this process difficult. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Menopause: There have been many studies carried out over the years in reference to the evolution of bone mass in women after pregnancy and lactation and its influence on osteoporosis in menopause. In the vast majority, the loss of bone mass during lactation is analyzed, and the results and observations show that this calcium is recovered little by little once complementary feeding is started, about 6 months after delivery. Interestingly, this loss of bone mass also occurs even if the baby is fed artificially.
Some studies have even made it possible to observe that the number of pregnancies does not influence this loss either, and that, although it is about very close pregnancies, the mother's bone health is not compromised. And others go even further, observing that the maternal diet cannot prevent neither the loss of calcium after childbirth, nor the subsequent recovery of bone mass, but is independent of the maternal calcium intake. The most reliable hypothesis is that calcium metabolism is seen, during pregnancy and lactation,
Neither a high number of pregnancies, of up to 5 or more children, nor periods of breastfeeding longer than 2 years, cause any long-term decrease in bone density. The bone density of women can be considered independent of these factors, and osteoporosis that can be diagnosed in menopause has nothing to do with breastfeeding time or the number of offspring.
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