Expectant and breastfeeding moms have double duty: not only do they need to make sure that their babies are getting all of the nutrients they need, but they must also ensure that they themselves are properly nourished. Pregnancy and the subsequent months after delivery is a highly demanding period of time for the body. Mothers understandably need higher quantities of quality nutrients than at nearly any other time in their lives.
One of the chief nutrients required in greater quantities through pregnancy and beyond is calcium. Pregnant and nursing mothers require 1,000 to 1,300 mg of calcium per day and can lose up to 5% of their bone mass while nursing. Especially for vegan mothers who may find it difficult to meet their calcium requirements through diet alone, a quality calcium supplement has the potential to help circumvent bone density loss and help rebuild bones faster after pregnancy.
Not all calcium supplements are created equally, however. Here are the things to consider when looking for a calcium supplement to take while expecting or breastfeeding.
The Type of Calcium
Calcium occurs in a few different forms, all of which have varying amounts of elemental calcium – the base nutrient your body needs to help maintain healthy bone density. The nutrition label on the product you’re considering will tell you which form of calcium the product contains. Calcium carbonate tends to be one of the most popular choices because it contains the highest amount of elemental calcium—typically around 40% by weight. Other sources of calcium include calcium citrate, an excellent choice if you plan to take your calcium supplement on an empty stomach or if you regularly take heartburn medication. Calcium citrate generally consists of around 21% elemental calcium.
The Calcium Source
In addition to understanding which form of calcium your supplement contains, learning its source can help you further narrow down your choices. It’s best to avoid products with calcium made from unrefined oyster shell, bone meal, dolomite, or coral, as these may contain lead or other toxic metals.
Instead, opt for something sourced from a mineral like the AQUAMIN® found in our Synergistically Vegan calcium supplement. Derived from calcified red algae, AQUAMIN® is rich in magnesium and other trace minerals important in your body’s calcium absorption process.
The Calcium Dosage
You should consult your doctor to confirm how much supplemental calcium you need in your diet. Regardless of the number, however, it’s important to keep in mind that your body can only absorb about 500mg of calcium at a time. So choose your supplement accordingly, keeping in mind that supplements promising to deliver more than 500 mg of calcium in a single dose may not be worth the money. If you need more than 500mg of supplemental calcium, make sure to spread your doses throughout the day.
The Supplement Formulation
Calcium is best received by your body in conjunction with other nutrients. If your calcium supplement only contains calcium, it may not be working as well as you hope. The calcium you take does the most for your body when it’s able to work in conjunction with two other important nutrients: vitamin D3 and vitamin K2. Aside from being another essential nutrient for breastfeeding mothers, vitamin D3 helps encourage calcium uptake through the intestine so that more of the calcium you ingest is absorbed quicker. Meanwhile, vitamin K2 assists in the absorption process, directing ingested calcium away from the arteries and encouraging it to bind to the bones.
Your Personal Preference
After a supplement’s efficacy, one of the most important considerations is whether it will be something that you stick to. Most supplements work best over the long term – especially calcium, which takes time to build in your skeletal system and counteract any density-loss. Consider the size of the pills you’ll be taking, as well as the number of doses you’ll need, then choose a supplement you feel confident you’ll be able to stick to.
Ready to find the perfect 100% vegan supplements for your lifestyle? Shop our complete line of products here.
Synergistically Vegan is an all-new plant-based combination of unique ingredients developed to give you the BEST calcium absorption possible. 100% vegan and safe for expectant and breastfeeding mothers, Synergistically Vegan may help prevent bone density loss that can occur during pregnancy. Learn more about this groundbreaking calcium supplement here.