Best Calcium in Pregnancy

calcium and pregnancy

Calcium in pregnancy is a topic that needs to be addressed early in your pregnancy. Calcium requirements in pregnancy change according to each trimester. In this article, you will chat about the role of calcium and pregnancy. Calcium is a mineral known to be essential to life. Calcium aids in bone development and maintenance, as well as blood clotting, and muscular contraction, and helps regulate our heartbeat. Our bones and teeth contain 99% of the calcium in our body. Calcium is necessary to develop the bones of your baby during pregnancy. 

Our bodies cannot manufacture calcium on their own. Through our skin, nails, hair, perspiration, urine, and faeces, we lose calcium every day. Therefore, it’s critical to consume adequate calcium-rich foods to replace this lost calcium. If we do not eat enough calcium, or take a supplement, our bones become weak and brittle.

What is the Role of Calcium in Pregnancy?

Calcium in pregnancy supports your baby’s quickly growing bones and teeth as well as the development of their muscles, hearts, and nerves. Additionally, it’s still crucial for your bones and teeth. Your body will extract the calcium from your bones that your baby requires even if you don’t consume enough of it. How incredible! This is especially true during the third trimester when bone development reaches its peak at a daily transfer of 250 to 350 milligrammes from you to your unborn child.

In the second and third trimesters, there is a marked rise in the amount of calcium absorbed by mothers. If you don’t receive enough calcium in pregnancy, you’re more likely to develop the bone-thinning disorder known as osteoporosis. Although it’s common for women to regain lost bone mass after giving birth and breastfeeding, it’s still a good idea to remain on top of things and eat plenty of calcium while expecting.

signs of lack of calcium

Throughout the course of pregnancy, a remarkable series of physiological changes take place in an effort to maintain maternal homeostasis (biological stability) while also promoting the growth and development of your baby. Falling albumin (protein) levels, increased fluid volume, improved renal function, and placental calcium transfer are among the modifications that directly affect calcium metabolism.

Prenatal calcium supplementation has the potential to reduce negative pregnancy outcomes, particularly by lowering the risk of developing high blood pressure. These disorders are linked to a significant number of maternal deaths and a significant risk of preterm birth. It is the main cause of early neonatal and infant mortality. Calcium is super important in your pregnancy diet.

Calcium Requirements in Pregnancy

Women who are pregnant need 1,300 mg of calcium daily, whereas women under the age of 18 only need about 1,000mg per day. Roughly this equals about four servings of calcium-rich foods each day – easy to do.

If you are taking a supplement consider the calcium that is already in your prenatal supplement when evaluating your calcium intake during pregnancy. Just a tip-keep in mind that many over-the-counter heartburn medications contain calcium; therefore, if you use them to treat pregnancy heartburn, be sure to read the label.

Lack of Calcium Symptoms?

There are many visible signs of a lack of calcium in your body. Low calcium levels can cause;

  • uncomfortable muscle cramps and spasms
  • jerking of the muscles
  • tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • tingling or numbness around the mouth
  • Anxiety and depression which are two more serious symptoms that can develop from insufficient calcium if left untreated.
  • fatigue
  • dry, itchy skin
  • alterations in the finger and toenails

Calcium Foods for Pregnancy

The very best way to eat the recommended calcium intake is to eat a diet rich in calcium in pregnancy. The calcium content in food varies, so try and pick the most calcium-containing foods possible.

Calcium Dairy Sources

Plain low-fat yogurt8 ounces/1 cup415 mg
Plain whole-milk yogurt8 ounces/1 cup275 mg
Calcium-fortified orange juice1 cup349 mg
Part-skim mozzarella1 ounce /28g222 mg
Whole-milk mozzarella1 ounce /28g143 mg
Canned sardines with bones3 ounce/85g325 mg
Cheddar cheese1 ½ ounce / 42g307 mg
Skim milk8 ounce/1 cup299 mg
2 per cent milk8 ounces/1 cup293 mg
Whole milk8 ounces/1 cup276 mg
Calcium-fortified soy milk8 ounces/1 cup299 mg
Low-fat buttermilk8 ounces/1 cup284 mg
Collard greens1 cup266 mg
Cottage cheese1 cup187 mg
calcium intake during pregnancy

What if I Don’t Eat Dairy?

It is not a problem to get enough calcium in pregnancy if you do not eat dairy. f you need, or wish, to avoid dairy then the majority of dairy-free milk substitutes are calcium-fortified and therefore are a great alternative. It’s important to always read the label to find out if these foods are calcium-fortified. There are numerous other high-calcium meals and beverages that you can consume throughout the day in addition to the non-dairy sources, see below:

Non-dairy Sources of Calcium

Tofu12 cup253 mg
Chia seeds1 ounce/28g179 mg
Salmon in cans3 ounces/85g181 mg
Green turnip1 cup148 mg
Kale1 cup55 mg
Bok choy raw1 cup40 mg
Black-eyed peas1 cup46 mg
Broccoli cooked1 cup180 mg

Can I Get Enough Calcium From Diet Alone in Pregnancy?

It is definitely possible to consume enough calcium-containing foods to provide adequate calcium consumption for your health and your baby’s health, as seen in the tables above.

You can help ensure that you are getting enough calcium in pregnancy by eating and drinking two to four servings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods each day.

Do I Need Supplements?

Calcium supplements are safe in pregnancy. There are different types of calcium supplements and your physician will be able to provide the best option for you depending on your medical conditions, medications and individual preferences.

Read below a list of tips concerning calcium supplements;

  • When taken with food, calcium carbonate is less expensive and more effective
  • Calcium citrate functions equally well whether taken with or without food
  • A lot of calcium pills also include vitamin D, which improves calcium absorption in the body.
  • It is best to not take more than 500 mg of calcium at a time to ensure that your body absorbs the maximum amount of calcium. This might entail taking a supplement containing 500 mg with breakfast and another one with dinner if directed
  • Taking calcium supplements in excess might have unfavourable side effects, such as gas, bloating, flatulence or constipation.
  • Typically, a calcium-rich prenatal vitamin supplement will provide enough calcium to support both you and your unborn child during pregnancy, add this to having enough calcium-rich food sources throughout the day will hold you and your baby in good stead
  • Kidney stones can develop when calcium intake is too high.

Practical Ideas to Increase your Calcium in Pregnancy 

calcium and pregnancy
  • Try and consume your calcium requirement from food sources as much as possible. This is very doable for the majority of people.
  • When you consume calcium as part of your diet, do it in small doses and spread it out throughout the day, this helps with the nutrient’s absorption.
  • You can help ensure that you are getting enough calcium in pregnancy in your daily diet by eating and drinking two to four servings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods each day.
  • Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and calcium-fortified drinks like almond and soy milk, are the finest sources of calcium.
  • One 8-ounce/1 glass of milk, the most popular calcium source, provides about a third of your daily requirements.
  • If plant milks are calcium-fortified, they can also be excellent choices.
  • If the idea of consuming milk straight up makes you uncomfortable, mix it up in smoothies and soups or experiment with different dairy products, such as yoghurt or use as a fruit topping.
  • Another excellent source of calcium in pregnancy is cheese. Eat a slice of mozzarella with whole grain crackers, top your spaghetti with Parmesan cheese or grab some grapes or carrot sticks and some cheddar cheese for a quick snack.
  • Dark-green leafy vegetables, dried peas and beans, fish with bones, and cereals and drinks that have been fortified with calcium also contain calcium.
  • Your body will be able to utilise calcium in pregnancy with the aid of vitamin D. You may get some of the vitamin D you need each day by going outside frequently. This will help in the maximum absorption of calcium in the body.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol intake.
  • Try and emphasise weight-bearing activity (which is just exercise on your feet where your bones are literally supporting your weight)
  • Always practise excellent food hygiene standards
  • If you are still worried about getting enough calcium in pregnancy check with your doctor to determine if you actually need supplements before you start taking any.
  • Andrea N Hacker, Ellen B Fung, Janet C King, Role of calcium during pregnancy: maternal and fetal needs, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 70, Issue 7, 1 July 2012, Pages 397–409, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00491.x
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