Getting calcium when you’re pregnant is extremely important for a baby’s development. Fetuses draw from all the food you eat, so the amount of calcium in your diet dictates their rate of cardiovascular, skeletal, and neurological growth. You should be getting about 1000 mg of calcium per day, which is equivalent to 3 or 4 servings of dairy.
How does calcium help during pregnancy?
As a fetus’ body develops, calcium is essential for strong bones and a healthy heart. Babies take calcium from mothers’ bones if there is an insufficient amount in the food stream, so a well-rounded diet is particularly important to minimize risk for both mom and child. It is such a fundamental part of your diet that while you’re pregnant, you have an intrinsic ability to absorb more calcium from food, particularly in the second half of pregnancy when bone development is rapid. Calcium also helps prevent bone damage while breastfeeding, when you need extra calcium for breast milk and your body is producing less estrogen to protect your bones.
Ample calcium during pregnancy is also proven to help protect you against osteoporosis later in life.
What are some good sources of calcium?
- Yogurt: 8 ounces of fruit yogurt satisfies about ⅓ of your daily calcium requirement. It’s yummy on its own, but you can also mix it in for a refreshing fruit smoothie!
- Milk: Lots of kids will tell you milk helps you grow big and strong, but they might not know it’s due to the high calcium content. 8 ounces of skim milk has 300 mg of calcium, so drink it plain or add it to your morning cereal!
- Cheese: There are lots of dishes you can top off with a handful of cheese, or maybe just splurge for a pizza! Gruyere, mozzarella, and cheddar are all great sources of calcium.
- Greens: Spinach, broccoli, and cabbage are packed with calcium and also fulfill your veggie requirement!
- Fruit juice: Start your day with a tall glass of orange juice, preferably a “calcium-fortified” version.
- Calcium supplements: What better source of calcium than a supplement that is specially-designed to be a great source of calcium?
Along with calcium, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the daily recommendation of Vitamin D as well, as calcium is dependent upon sufficient Vitamin D for the best absorption possible.
- “Nutrition During Pregnancy: FAQ001.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 4/15/2015. Web.
- “Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and Bone Health.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, 4/15/2015. Web.
- WHO. “Calcium supplementation in pregnant women.” World Health Organization. World Health Organization, n.d. Web.