Lactation is a unique period in which the maternal skeleton acts as a storehouse to provide substantial calcium to milk. Women who exclusively breastfeed lose an average of 210 mg of calcium per day, which doubles or triples with twins and triplets. Data from rodent and clinical studies are consistent with skeletal calcium being released to provide much of the calcium needed for milk production. This is programmed to occur independently of dietary calcium intake or intestinal calcium absorption, which remains at the prepregnant rate in breastfeeding women. After weaning, the skeleton is restored to its prior mineralization and strength, but the factors that regulate this remain to be elucidated.
Brittany A. Ryan, Christopher S. Kovacs
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