what is a good source of calcium when pregnant

2

Why Do I Need More Calcium When Pregnant?

Calcium is a nutrient needed in the body to build strong teeth and bones. Calcium also allows blood to clot normally, muscles and nerves to function properly, and the heart to beat normally. Most of the calcium in your body is found inside your bones.

Your growing baby needs a considerable amount of calcium to develop. If you do not consume enough calcium to sustain the needs of your developing baby, your body will take calcium from your bones, decreasing your bone mass and putting you at risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes dramatic thinning of the bone, resulting in weak, brittle bones that can easily be broken.

Pregnancy is a critical time for a woman to consume more calcium. It may help prevent high blood pressure while you’re pregnant. Even if no problems develop during pregnancy, an inadequate supply of calcium at this time can diminish bone strength and increase your risk for osteoporosis later in life.

The following guidelines will help ensure that you are consuming enough calcium throughout your pregnancy:

  • The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1,000 mg per day for pregnant and breastfeeding women over age 18. The U.S. RDA for teenage girls up to age 18 is 1,300 mg of calcium per day. Don’t exceed 2,500 mg a day.
  • Eating and drinking at least four servings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting the appropriate amount of calcium in your daily diet.
  • The best sources of calcium are dairy products, including milk, cheese, yogurt, cream soups, and pudding. Calcium is also found in foods including green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, and greens), seafood, dried peas, and beans. Some juices and tofu are made with calcium.
  • Vitamin D will help your body use calcium. Aim for 600 international units (IU) a day but no more than 4,000 IU. You can get vitamin D through exposure to the sun and in fortified milk, eggs, and fish.

 

How Can I Get Enough Calcium if I’m Lactose Intolerant?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. If you are lactose intolerant, you may have cramping, gas, or diarrhea when dairy products are consumed.

If you are lactose intolerant, you can still receive the calcium you need. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use Lactaid Milk fortified with calcium. Talk to your dietitian about other lactose-reduced products.
  • You may be able to tolerate certain milk products that contain less sugar including cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese.
  • Eat non-dairy calcium sources, including greens, broccoli, sardines, and tofu.
  • Try consuming small amounts of milk with meals. Milk is better tolerated with food.
what is a good source of calcium when pregnant

Should I Take a Calcium Supplement During Pregnancy?

If you have trouble consuming enough calcium-rich foods in your daily meal plan, talk to your doctor or dietitian about taking a calcium supplement. The amount of calcium you will need from a supplement depends on how much calcium you are consuming through food sources.

Calcium supplements and some antacids containing calcium, such as Tums, may complement an already healthy diet. Many multiple vitamin supplements contain little or no calcium; therefore, you may need an additional calcium supplement.

Importance

Calcium is an important nutrient for the body. During pregnancy, you need more calcium for your health and the health and development of the baby growing inside of you.

For Your Baby

Your developing baby needs calcium to form bones and teeth.1 They’re building an entire skeleton, after all. Calcium is also an important nutrient for your baby’s heart, muscles, nerves, and hormones.

For You

During pregnancy, you give your baby all the calcium they need, so when you consume the recommended amount of calcium every day you are taking care of your baby and yourself. If you don’t get enough, you could run into some complications.

Regardless of whether or not you take in enough, your body will still give calcium to your baby. So, if you are not replacing what you’re giving away, you could end up with weakened bones and a greater risk of osteoporosis later in life.

Complications

Complications are possible as a result of both too little and too much calcium. Luckily, they’re easily preventable.

Too Little Calcium

You probably won’t experience any major pregnancy complications if you don’t consume the recommended amount of calcium each day exactly.

A calcium deficiency is more likely to cause complications if it’s due to a health issue such as a kidney problem, surgery, or the need to take certain medications.

Not consuming enough calcium can lead to:

  • High blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Numbness and tingling in the fingers
  • Slow growth of the baby
  • The baby not getting enough calcium in the bones
  • Heart problems
  • Muscle and leg cramps
  • A poor appetite
  • In rare cases, increased risk of bone fractures.

In severe and rare cases, too little calcium could lead to death. While, understandably, many of these complications are a cause for worry, remember that you are likely to get some calcium without even trying. Plus, you should have enough stored in your bones to provide for your growing baby.

In the case that you do have any health issues listed that are more likely to lead to too little calcium, your doctor will be well aware and working closely with you to prevent any complications.

Too Much Calcium

It is rare to get too much calcium from the foods that you eat. You are most likely to take in an excessive amount of calcium if you use supplements.

It’s important to understand which nutrients and how much of each nutrient is in your prenatal vitamin and any other supplements that you take. You may be getting extra without even knowing it.

It’s always best to talk to your doctor about any vitamins that you are taking or considering, so you get what you need without taking too much. If you are 19 or older, you do not want to take more than 2,500mg of calcium each day, and if you are 18 or younger, you do not want to go over 3,000 mg daily.

Ingesting too much calcium can cause:

  • Constipation
  • Kidney stones
  • Possibly trouble absorbing other minerals, such as iron and zinc
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low calcium in the baby’s body5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Like
Close
TheSuperHealthyFood © Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.
Close