Calcium is one of the major nutrients and the most abundant mineral in the body. Calcium is necessary to build and maintain strong and healthy bones and to support many vital functions such as muscle contractions or neurotransmitter release. The exact dosage of calcium depends on the age and health status of an individual. This mineral is very much important for women, especially for pregnant, lactating and women in menopause. However, according to certain studies, about 75% of American women do not obtain the suggested amount of calcium in their diet to help maintain healthy bone structure. Women’s body is specific as their bone mass reaches maximum density between the ages of 25 and 35. Later, it begins to decrease and this loss of bone mass even more accelerates during the menopause. Therefore, women are at increased risk of osteoporosis and calcium remains essential nutrient through all stages of their life.
Calcium and pregnancy
Pregnant women are at increased need for calcium. On average, women are advised to take about 2500 to 3000 mg of calcium daily. The exact dosage depends on their age. Pregnant women younger than 18 years will need up to 3000 mg of calcium, while pregnant and lactating women need 2500mg. However, this is the upper intake level, and everything above this limit can become toxic and cause diverse effects. Calcium is very much important for both mother and her baby. According to the scientific studies, women who take 1,500 mg of 2,000 mg of supplemental calcium daily are at a significantly lower risk of preclampsia, which is a leading cause of premature birth. What worries is that an average American woman is very much likely to be deficient in calcium, before, after and during the pregnancy.
Calcium and breastfeeding
Lactating women have increased need for calcium, since their body needs many nutrients to produce breast milk. Women need about 500 additional calories per day, but also prenatal vitamins and calcium supplementation.
Calcium and menopause
As already stated, calcium becomes essential for women in menopause. Menopause is a part of woman’s life when the significant bone loss typically occurs. The bone loss leads to fragile bones, bone thinning and subsequent osteoporosis. Adequate calcium intake will assure optimum bone quality and strength and prevent osteoporosis. This major health problem leads to more than 1.5 million fractures each year, including 700,000 vertebral fractures and 300,000 hip fractures. Other health benefits of calcium for women include prevention of colon cancer, which is the third most common malignancy in US women.