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Calcium may fight pregnancy-related bone loss

New research among pregnant women suggests calcium supplementation during pregnancy may help them fight bone loss.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but babies can suck the calcium straight out of them, which actually sounds more insidious. If the baby’s calcium needs aren’t being met by a mother’s calcium consumption, the baby can take its calcium right from the mother’s bones. (Isn’t motherhood grand?) But new research appearing in Nutrition Journal suggests calcium supplementation may help pregnant women maintain bone health.

The research is among the first to be based on a trial with pregnant women. Recommendations that pregnant women consume at least 1,000 mg of calcium a day are based largely on studies of non-pregnant adults, write the study’s authors.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers gave 670 women in Mexico City in their third trimester of pregnancy either 1,200 mg/day of calcium or a placebo. The women were tracked until one month after they gave birth. At the end of the follow-up period, researchers found a net reduction in bone loss among the women who had taken the calcium, but not among those who had taken the placebo. The women who complied most closely with the trial experienced about a 22 percent overall reduction in bone loss.

The researchers concluded that the calcium “was associated with reduced bone resorption, and, thus, may constitute a practical intervention to prevent transient skeletal loss associated with childbearing.”

In 2014, several studies were published that countered claims by New Zealand researchers that calcium supplements might be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. One, published in May in Osteoporosis International, included 74,245 subjects and 24 years of follow up.

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