Why Women Need More Calcium When Pregnant

Calcium is a nutrient necessary in building strong bones and teeth. It is also a factor in blood clotting, muscle and nerve function, normal heart beat. Most of the calcium in our body is stored in our bones.

Your growing baby needs plenty of calcium to develop properly, so you need to increase you calcium intake to support your baby’s development. If you do not consume the extra calcium your baby needs, your body will take calcium from your own bones, reducing your bone mass and increasing your risk of osteoporosis later on.

To make sure that you are getting enough calcium throughout your pregnancy –  

  • The US Recommended Daily Allowance [RDA] for calcium is 1000 mg per day and for pregnant and breastfeeding women aged 18 and above. For teenage girls up to age 18, the USRDA for calcium is 1300 mg per day.
  • Consume at least 4 servings of dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, and other calcium-rich foods like green leafy vegetables [broccoli, spinach], seafood, dried peas and beans, per day to make sure you are getting the right amount of calcium in your diet.
  • It is also important to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D. vitamin D helps the body use calcium. Good sources of vitamin D include fortified milk, eggs, fish, and of course sun exposure.

Lactose intolerance

Dairy products are some of the best sources of calcium. However, some women are lactose intolerant, or are unable to digest lactose [the sugar in milk]. If you are lactose intolerant, you may experience diarrhea, gas, or cramping when you consume dairy products.

To get the calcium you need, you can try doing the following:

  • Eat small amounts of milk with your meals. Your stomach may be able to tolerated milk better with food.
  • Eat tiny portions of dairy products that contain less sugar such as yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese.
  • Eat lots of non-dairy calcium sources such as broccoli, sardines, and tofu.
  • You can also take calcium fortified Lactaid Milk. Ask your dietitian about other lactose-reduce products.

Calcium supplements

If you are having difficulty getting enough calcium from your daily meal plan, ask your doctor about taking calcium supplement. The amount of calcium you will need from the supplement depends on how much calcium you are getting from the foods you eat. Calcium supplements and some antacids that contain calcium may add to an already-healthy diet. Many multivitamins contain very little or no calcium at all, so you will need additional calcium supplement.

Source: WebMD