Intake and hedonics of calcium and sodium during pregnancy and lactation in the rat

M. Leshem, T. Levin, J. Schulkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


These experiments sought to distinguish whether increased calcium intake during pregnancy and lactation in the rat is due to arousal of a specific calcium appetite, with altered taste hedonics, as occurs with sodium depletion, to reduced taste sensitivity, or to the hyperdipsia of reproduction. We find that, during pregnancy and lactation, CaCl2 intake is not increased more (in fact less) than intakes of control tastants, MgCl2 and quinine HCl, and multiparous dams do not have a greater calcium intake than primaparous dams. Changes in taste reactivity to CaCl2 and to NaCl do not correlate with changes in intake of these minerals during pregnancy or lactation, suggesting that alterations in hedonics or sensitivity do not explain the increased intake of these minerals. Taken together with the increased intake of all the tastants, it may be that the increased intakes of calcium and sodium during reproduction are not due to respective specific appetites or to a general mineral appetite but rather to the reproduction-increased ingestion that may meet all the dam's increased mineral and nutrient requirements. Differences in the degree of increased intakes of tastes may be due to specific alterations in their transduction during reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-322
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dafna Berman, Sonia Del Canho, Alexandra Kavushansky, Barak Marom and Rinat Ostereicher-Sheizaf for valuable assistance and Carlo Polidori and Maurizio Massi of the University of Camerino for teaching us taste reactivity. We thank Keren Or-Chen for statistical advice. Supported by BSF 94-206 to Micah Leshem and Jay Schulkin.


  • Appetite
  • Calcium
  • Ingestion
  • Lactation
  • Pregnancy
  • Rat
  • Sodium
  • Taste
  • Taste reactivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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