Why do women need more calcium than men? Let’s start by saying that there’s pretty much not one person, male or female, who doesn’t need calcium as part of their daily vitamin and nutrient intake. Calcium helps keep the nervous system functioning correctly, impacts heart health, and helps ensure the development of strong bones and muscles. However, calcium needs differ depending on age and sex. For instance, women need a little more calcium than men during certain stages of life. So why is that? It’s pretty simple: Calcium needs for women depend on their age and the stages they are going through. Here’s a breakdown of how much calcium women need during the most important life stages.
Girls’ Calcium Needs During Childhood
It’s critical that girls get enough calcium when they’re young, because their bones are still developing and need calcium to become strong. In fact, girls who get lots of calcium during childhood are able to begin adulthood with strong bones which is beneficial as they get older and are faced with the threat of osteoporosis.
But girls don’t even have to wait until adulthood to benefit from having strong bones, because sufficient calcium can save them from rickets—a disease that occurs when babies and kids have low levels of calcium and vitamin D. Rickets can lead to soft bones, stunted growth, weak muscles, bow legs, and more.
That’s why it’s so important for girls to get enough calcium when they’re young. The following is how much calcium girls need depending on age:
- 0-6 months: 200 mg
- 7-12 months: 260 mg
- 1-3 years: 700 mg
- 4-8 years: 1,000 mg
- 9-13 years: 1,300 mg
- 14-18 years: 1,300 mg
Fortunately, there are lots of calcium-rich foods even for picky eaters, so it should be possible for girls to get the calcium they need every day.
Women’s Calcium Needs During Pregnancy
As girls grow into women and have the chance to face another major stage of life—pregnancy—they need even more calcium. During pregnancy, calcium is important for both the woman and the baby. Calcium reduces preeclampsia, a serious pregnancy complication. While most women take prenatal vitamins while pregnant, making sure you’re getting enough calcium during the pregnancy, is important, too.
Studies have also have shown that pregnant women who took calcium supplements during the second and third trimester had babies with 15 percent more bone mineral content than the babies whose mothers did not take extra calcium. That kind of makes making sure to get enough calcium during pregnancy a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Want to know more about that, here’s a great resource on that topic from Parents Magazine: Are You Getting Enough Calcium During Pregnancy?
The amount of calcium needed while pregnant depends on age. Pregnant women who are 14 to 18 years old need 1,300 mg of calcium per day, while those who are 19 to 50 years old need 1,000 mg daily. Note that the amount of calcium needed while pregnant is the same amount women need during lactation, so keep this in mind if you plan to breastfeed. You can get more of this nutrient by either eating calcium-rich foods or taking a calcium supplement. Want more on this? Check out Calcium Rich Foods You Should Be Eating Every Day — it’s not as hard as you might think.
Women’s Calcium Needs During Menopause
The stage of life when most women need more calcium than ever is menopause. During menopause, the amount of estrogen in a woman’s body drops dramatically, and considering that estrogen is what protects bones, this is a big deal. This is why women are most susceptible to osteoporosis during menopause. Want a wake-up call on that front: Bone density can decrease by up to 20 percent within about 7 years after menopause begins.
Women who age 51 and over need 1,200 mg of calcium per day. Want to guard against osteoporosis and decreased bone density? It’s easy—make sure you get enough calcium, whether through calcium-rich foods or supplements you can add to the superfoods you’re adding to your diet.
If you’re worried about bone health at any stage of life as a woman, know that the answer is always to get more calcium. And there are several ways to do that, typically through some common foods like cheese, milk, sweet potatoes, almonds, and more. But an easy way to always make sure you’re getting the calcium you need is to simply stir some of FitFormula’s Cal-EZ calcium powder into anything you eat or drink. It’s flavorless and tasteless (really!) and you can add it to your morning coffee, a protein shake, some scrambled eggs—or drink it with a glass of water. Oh, and did I mention you can get FitFormula’s Cal-EZ for 50% off?
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