Why do you need calcium during your pregnancy?

Calcium is one of the must-have nutrient during pregnancy to build and maintain strong bones and teeth for you and your growing baby. Your growing baby’s need for calcium is especially great during the last trimester of your pregnancy, where most of his or her bone development occurs.

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, where most of it is stored in your bone and teeth. Your body also utilizes calcium for other metabolic functionsi such as muscle function, heart beat regulation, nerve transmission, hormone production, etc.ii

Intake of adequate calcium has been linked to reduced risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnant womeniii.

Having enough calcium in your pregnancy diet is essential to your own health as it can also decrease your risk of osteoporosisiv later in life.

How much calcium do you and your growing baby need?v

Calcium should be part of your daily meal plans before and during your pregnancy. You should be getting around 1 g of calcium each day and around 1.2 g calcium in your last trimester of your pregnancyvi. For example, a glass of milk (200 ml) contains around 250mg calcium.vi

In populations with low dietary calcium intake, daily calcium supplementation (1.5–2.0 g oral elemental calcium) is recommended for pregnant women to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia.vii

Where can you find calcium?v

Reaching the recommended levels of calcium is easy when there is a multitude of calcium-rich foods, even for those who are lactose intolerant or have certain dietary restrictions.

This includes:

  • Dairy products (such as milk, cheese and yoghurt) are rich in calcium that is also easily absorbable
  • Soy (found in tofu, soya milk, and soybeans)
  • Vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli and bok choy/pak choi)
  • Beans (such as white beans, red beans and chickpeas)
  • Nuts and seeds (such as almonds and sesame seeds)

You can also take calcium supplements, but remember to consult with your doctor first.

 

 

References:

iBeto, J. A. (2015, January). The Role of Calcium in Human Aging. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4337919/

iiRoss, AC, Taylor, CL, Yaktine, AL, et al., (editors) (2011). Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US).

iiiCalcium supplementation during pregnancy to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia. Retrieved 2 June 2017 from http://www.who.int/elena/titles/calcium_pregnancy/en/

ivCalcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance. (2015, August 5). Retrieved April 10, 2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating...

vBabies Learn to Recognize Words in the Womb. Retrieved 2 June 2017 from, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/08/babies-learn-recognize-words-womb

viWorld Health Organization, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (2004). Vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition.

viiHow can I get enough calcium? Retrieved 2 June 2017 from, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072514/

viiiWorld Health Organization, WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. Geneva: WHO Press. 2016.