Calcium in pregnancy and lactation

Annu Rev Nutr. 2000:20:249-72. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.20.1.249.


Pregnancy and lactation are periods of high calcium requirement. This review highlights recent advances in our understanding of calcium and bone metabolism during human pregnancy and lactation and discusses the findings in relation to the calcium nutrition of the mother. The evidence indicates that pregnancy and lactation are characterized by physiological adaptive processes that are independent of maternal calcium intake and that provide the calcium necessary for fetal growth and breast-milk production without requiring an increase in maternal calcium intake. There are firm data that demonstrate that a low calcium intake during lactation does not lead to impaired lactational performance or to exaggerated bone loss. However, more research is required to define whether a low calcium intake prior to or during pregnancy can have deleterious effects on reproductive and lactational performance, and on the long-term health of the mother and child.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological*
  • Calcification, Physiologic / physiology*
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Calcium, Dietary / metabolism
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / prevention & control
  • Infant, Newborn / growth & development
  • Lactation / metabolism*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Pregnancy / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Risk Factors


  • Calcium, Dietary