Calcium is one of the key minerals you need during pregnancy along with other vitamins and minerals.
Calcium is one of the key minerals you need during pregnancy along with other vitamins and minerals. It helps in the development of the baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles & nerves, and also aids the development of vital structures like the skeleton.
How much calcium is required during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, you need 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. You can get this amount by taking your prenatal vitamin and eating food that has a lot of calcium in it.
What are the risks of low calcium intake?
If you don’t get enough calcium during pregnancy, your body takes it from your bones and gives it to your baby. This can lead to diminished calcium storage and may end up in osteoporosis for the mother in later life. In this condition, your bones become thin and break easily.
What are the good sources of calcium?
Your body does not make calcium, so you have to get it from food, fortified products, and supplements. Good sources of calcium include:
- In general, all white colored foods like milk and related products, apple, banana, pears etc.
- Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt
- Dark, leafy green vegetables also have calcium but in much smaller amounts.
- Some foods have calcium added to them, including calcium-fortified cereal, bread, orange juice, and soy drinks but make sure the check the food package label
Here are the average serving sizes and calcium content listed below (provided by the USDA):
- Milk: 1 cup, whole, 276 mg calcium
- Cheese: 2 slices. 307 mg calcium
- Yoghurt: 200gm, plain, low fat, 415mg calcium
- Broccoli: 1 cup cooked, 64mg calcium
- Soybeans: 1 cup cooked, 184mg calcium
- Baked beans: 1 cup cooked, 160mg calcium
- Almonds: 1 cup, roasted, salted, 370mg calcium
What are calcium supplements?
If one is allergic to milk, or is lactose intolerant, or follows a vegan diet, getting enough calcium from food can be difficult. If you don’t get enough from food, your doctor may recommend a calcium supplement. Many calcium supplements also contain vitamin D, which helps our body to absorb calcium.
It is recommended to limit calcium supplement to 500 mg at a time. To make sure your body absorbs the most calcium possible, take only 500 mg of calcium at a time. This may mean taking a 500 mg supplement with breakfast and another 500 mg with dinner. It is advisable to check with your doctor and follow a suggested course.
The best way to be sure that you’re getting all the calcium and other nutrients that you need, is to eat well. A balanced diet will keep you healthy during your pregnancy, provide your baby with what they need to grow and develop, give you strength and energy for childbirth, and encourage successful milk production once your child is born. When you see a doctor at your prenatal appointments, talk about your diet and your concerns. Your doctor can advise you on the best way to meet your daily needs.
Special thanks to Dr Parul Kotdawala (MD, FICOG, FICMCH, MNAMS) for expert advice.