Why Calcium is So Important in a Baby's First Year

Did you know that a human baby's bone mass increases by a whopping 300% in the first year of life?  Really! Babies are absorbing and using calcium at a great rate. They are building bone mass at an incredible rate, as they build upon the cartilage and early bone that is present at birth.  And, what is even more amazing is that there is never another time in a person's life where there is so much bone being built.

Moms who are breast feeding need 4-5 servings of calcium rich food each day so that they don't deplete their own stores. Many women end up losing bone mass while breast feeding, and the good news is that they are able to quickly recover that after weaning.  As a nurse practitioner, I'm all about food first as a source of calcium and yet many women around the world are lactose intolerant and must look for other sources of calcium. Spinach, Broccoli, other greens like Kale, Collards, Swiss chard and other green leafy vegetables are a great source. Many people are surprised to learn that carrots and sweet potatoes also have calcium, as does almonds, and sardines.

For women who can't get enough calcium from their diet alone, it's important to ask their health care provider about using supplements that contain calcium and Vitamin D.  Now that the weather is getting warmer, getting outside to soak up the sun's rays helps our bodies make more Vitamin D, another essential nutrient for bone health.

I know that moms are always trying to do the best for the their babies, but it's also important to do the best for themselves.

Follow me on Twitter@NurseBarbDehn.

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