During pregnancy, there are many important nutritional needs, but one I like to focus on is calcium.
Why is calcium so important during pregnancy?
- Your baby needs calcium to grow bones and teeth!
- Calcium helps other parts of the baby develop such as his/her heart, nerves and muscles.
- Calcium is also important for the baby to develop normal heart rhythms and the ability to form blood clots.
- If you don’t consume enough, the baby will take it from your own bones!
How much do you Need?
- The recommendation is the same as pre-pregnancy, if you are over 18 years of age you need 1,000 mg/day.
- If you are under 18 years of age you need 1,300 mg/day.
Some Tips on Getting Enough Calcium
- Try tallying up how much you consume on a daily basis. Read the label on your prenatal supplement, there’s usually a couple hundred milligrams in there. Add up all the dairy (but read labels b/c they vary quite a bit!), fortified drinks (orange, soy milk, etc), canned salmon with bones and sardines, protein bars and other fortified foods (ie luna bars contain 350 mg calcium). Leafy greens and almonds contain calcium too.
- If you fall short of 1,000 mg, consider taking a supplement or examine more ways to get calcium through food. Remember vitamin D helps aid in the absorption, so look for a supplement that is USP certified and contains vitamin D.
- Your body can only absorb 500 mg at a time, so don’t take a supplement with a dairy meal (for example breakfast if you’re eating milk or yogurt).
- Try taking your calcium supplement separate from your prenatal vitamin b/c some of the minerals may fight for absorption.
How do I get my calcium?
- My prenatal vitamins have 400 mg of calcium in them, however, the calcium pills are separate. I try to take the vitamins in the morning and then the calcium with lunch or dinner.
- Everyday I aim to have a greek yogurt (200 mg), 1 glass of skim or soy milk (~300 mg), and 1 oz low fat cheese (200 mg). Some days it may be slightly different. I occasionally have luna bars for a snack (which may replace one of my dairy servings) and other days I may have a yogurt and 2 servings of cheese. Then there are some days I just fall short – usually on the weekends since my meals are not as structured.
- I do consume leafy greens and almonds almost daily so I probably get at least 100 mg more each day through those foods, however, I would rather go over 1,000 mg than be under, so I just use those as an added benefit and don’t count them. 1 ounce of almonds has 75 mg of calcium and 1/2 cup cooked spinach has 136 mg (but the oxalates to decrease absorption rates).
- What I make sure to do is at the end of the day I tally what I have consumed and if it’s low I will take an extra calcium supplement to make sure I make my quota.
- The last thing I want is my baby taking calcium from my bones!
How do you get enough calcium?