The effect of 18 months of lactation on indexes of calcium and bone metabolism was studied in 60 Gambian women accustomed to a very low calcium intake. Half the women consumed a calcium supplement from 10 days postpartum for 52 weeks (supplement, 714 mg Ca/day; total Ca intake, 992 ± 114 mg/day), and half consumed placebo (total Ca intake, 288 ± 128 mg/day). Fasting blood and 24-h urine samples were collected at 1.5, 13, 52, and 78 weeks of lactation and analyzed for calciotropic hormones (intact PTH, 1,25- dihydroxyvitamin D, and calcitonin), bone turnover markers (osteocalcin, bone alkaline phosphatase, and urinary deoxypyridinoline), and plasma minerals (calcium and phosphate). The first months of lactation were associated with increased bone turnover and plasma phosphate, and decreased PTH and 1,25- dihydroxyvitamin D. These effects diminished by 52 weeks, although breast milk volumes remained high. The Gambians had higher PTH, 1,25- dihydroxyvitamin D, and bone formation than British women with a greater customary calcium intake. None of the biochemical indexes was affected by calcium supplementation, with the possible exception of bone alkaline phosphatase (-29% at 52 weeks; P = 0.015). These data demonstrate that lactation-associated changes in calcium and bone metabolism are physiological and are independent of dietary calcium supply in women with very low calcium intakes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical