Calcium helps maintain strong bones for you and your baby's bones
Calcium is a must-have nutrient during pregnancy to build and maintain strong bones and teeth for you and your baby. Your 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.
If your little one isn’t able to get the amount of calcium he or she needs, your body will take calcium from your bones to pass it to him or her!iv That’s why having enough calcium in your pregnancy diet is essential to your own health as it can also decrease your risk of osteoporosisv later in life.
How much calcium do you need during pregnancy?vi
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 pregnancyvii. For example, a glass of milk (200 ml) contains around 250mg calcium.viii
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-eclampsiaix.
Where can you find calcium?
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.
Dairy products (such as milk, cheese and yogurt) are rich in calcium that is also easily absorbable
Soy (found in tofu, soya milk, and soybeans)
Vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli and Chinese cabbage)
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. Also, remember to have sufficient vitamin D from sun exposure or you diet as it helps in calcium absorption.
i Beto, 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/
ii Ross, AC, Taylor, CL, Yaktine, AL, et al., (editors) (2011). Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US).
iii Calcium supplementation during pregnancy to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia. Retrieved 2 June 2017 from http://www.who.int/elena/titles/calcium_pregnancy/en/
iv Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and Bone Health. (2015, April), Retrieved April 10, 2017 from https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/Bone_Health/Pregnancy/default...
v Calcium 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...
vi Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and Bone Health. (2015, April), Retrieved April 10, 2017 from https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/Bone_Health/Pregnancy/default...
vii World Health Organization, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (2004). Vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition.
viii How can I get enough calcium? Retrieved 2 June 2017 from, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072514/
ix World Health Organization, WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. Geneva: WHO Press. 2016.