Make no bones about it–calcium is the key to fortifying your developing baby’s bones, teeth and moving blood through the body. Our bodies don’t make calcium so it has to be obtained from other sources, either from food or a supplement. For adult women in pregnancy, the recommended amount is 1000 mg per day, and 1300 mg for 14-18-year-olds who are pregnant.
We can’t emphasize enough that getting sufficient amounts of calcium while pregnant is important since the baby will actually “steal” calcium from your own bones and teeth in order to develop properly.
Drinking milk is probably one of the most typical ways to add calcium to your diet, although many other foods are also good sources of this important mineral. Most dairy products have abundant calcium, such as yogurt and cheese, and calcium is also present in dark, leafy green vegetables to a lesser extent. Fish, like salmon and sardines, is a good choice along with calcium-fortified foods like orange juice and cereal. You may want to limit your servings of sweeter foods such as ice cream or yogurt with fruit since these sugary sources could contribute to gestational diabetes and spike your blood sugar. It’s a good idea to check food labels to make sure you are getting sufficient quantities. Or keep it simple and just drink three glasses of milk a day!
If you have any sensitivity to dairy products, you will want to get your calcium from non-dairy foods. Otherwise, you can pack a lot of calcium into smoothies or try adding some cheese to your salad. If your doctor recommends a supplement, you will find calcium in prenatal vitamins combined with Vitamin D, which enhances calcium absorption.
Calcium Citrate or Calcium Carbonate
You have two options: you can take calcium carbonate, which works best when taken with food, or calcium citrate, which can be taken on either a full or empty stomach. Calcium citrate contains acid, which promotes better absorption. Calcium carbonate requires the stomach acid produced during digestion to help it become absorbed. Be sure to spread the doses over one or two meals to prevent some of the less pleasant side effects of gas, bloating, and constipation.
During pregnancy, it’s common to feel a whole gamut of emotions from week to week or even day to day. Try not to stress about missing a serving of calcium on one day and instead focus on growing a healthy baby. The helpful team of doctors at The Woman’s Clinic are here to guide you through the ups and downs of pregnancy and answer your questions to make sure you have peace of mind about providing the right nutrients for your little one.
Women who have allergies, are lactose-intolerant, or follow a vegan diet, will most likely have to get their calcium from a supplement. While there are non-dairy foods containing calcium, the amounts are not high enough to provide all your calcium needs. In that case, your doctor will probably prescribe a supplement.
Breastfeeding also requires adequate calcium and is important for the nursing mother to include in her diet. Since some of the calcium is depleted through breast milk, nursing mothers should continue to take their calcium supplements to avoid bone loss. The bone mass lost during breastfeeding is usually regained six months afterward.
All of us at The Woman’s Clinic are eager to walk with you throughout the exciting journey to giving birth. Whatever questions you have about nutrition, supplements, or other topics relating to your pregnancy, we look forward to helping you make the best decisions for good health for you and your baby. Make an appointment at either our Jackson or Madison, MS, offices for a prenatal consultation or talk to our physicians about your pregnancy concerns.