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Calcium-rich Foods for Pregnancy: How Much Calcium in Pregnancy? Must-Have Foods with Calcium

Calcium-rich Foods for Pregnancy:

Eating nutritious meals right from the moment you discover you’re pregnant is crucial to keep complications at bay and deliver a healthy baby. Eating well does not mean stuffing yourself with a lot of food at regular intervals. You have to meet your body’s daily requirements of water, protein, calcium, iron, fiber, and so on. All the vitamins and minerals play specific roles in keeping you fit and aiding the development of the fetus. Calcium is one such essential mineral and so, in this article, we will tell you about the best calcium-rich foods for pregnancy. So, stay tuned till the end as you want nothing but the best for the little one growing in your womb.

The Importance of Calcium During Pregnancy

Every human needs calcium daily. This mineral builds bones, keeps the blood moving, and assists the nerves in sending messages from the brain to other body parts. When you are pregnant, getting sufficient calcium becomes mandatory as it will strengthen the baby’s musculoskeletal system and support the timely development of the fetus. And if you aren’t eating enough calcium, your body will steal calcium from your bones and give your baby. So, it would help if you had more calcium constantly – the third or the first trimester.

How Much Calcium Intake During Pregnancy Is Recommended?

While everyone knows that calcium is necessary to have a healthy pregnancy, what is the right amount of calcium in a pregnancy diet?

According to healthcare professionals and the guidelines of RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances), a pregnant woman’s body needs 700 mg of calcium daily throughout her pregnancy. If you are breastfeeding, then your body should get 1,250 mg of calcium daily. That’s because when you breastfeed, you will lose 3-5% of your existing bone mass through the milk you feed your baby. If you take supplements, you will quickly regain the mass within a few months after you quit breastfeeding.

8 Calcium-rich Foods for Pregnancy

  1. Milk

The easiest way to get sufficient calcium is by relying on dairy products for pregnant women and milk tops the list of calcium-rich dairy foods. You will be amazed to learn that drinking only 2 glasses (of 200ml each) of milk per day will give you 464 mg of your calcium. However, before drinking milk you must ensure that it is pasteurized to stay away from food-borne diseases.

  1. Milk products

Besides drinking milk, you can also relish other dairy products like yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese. 8-ounce of fresh yogurt will give you 415 mg of calcium. The yummiest cheese varieties for pregnancy are mozzarella, ricotta, feta, cheddar, and Parmesan. Just 100 gm of any of these cheeses will hit your calcium intake target for the day.

These are all delectable choices and a variety of delicacies can be prepared with these ingredients. Cheese balls, Greek yogurt salad, and panner wraps are some of the favorites among pregnant ladies.

Quick Tip: You should have plain and low-fat yogurt instead of flavored yogurt as the latter is loaded with sugar and can cause teeth decay.

  1. Dried Fruits

Prunes, dates, apricots, etc. are some excellent calcium sources during pregnancy. Even some dried figs (approx. 92 mg of calcium) are great when it comes to increasing the intake of calcium. Another good thing about dried fruits is that they contain iron and iron is among the most important minerals during your pregnancy.

  1. Oranges

Orange is among the calcium-rich fruits for pregnancy. This citrus fruit also has other vital nutrients like potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. So, it will strengthen your and your baby’s bones, reduce morning sickness, and boost your immunity. To get the maximum benefits, have one orange per day.

  1. Almonds

Your dietician must have suggested having almonds and seeds for pregnancy and calcium intake is one of the main reasons why. 10 almonds contribute to 53 mg of a pregnant woman’s calcium RDA and they are also delicious.

While several seeds are incredible sources of calcium, sesame, chia, pumpkin, celery, and poppy seeds are the winners. If you consume two tablespoons of chia seeds, you will get 14% of your calcium RDA. Similarly, if you sprinkle a tablespoon of sesame seeds on your salad, it will not just make the salad crunchy but give you 80 mg of calcium.

  1. Lentils and legumes

Legumes and lentils for pregnancy nutrition have been recommended by doctors for ages. Irrespective of the color, a cup of lentils has 67 mg of calcium. They are so versatile that you can add them to salads, soups, and other dishes.

  1. Seafood

The main part of fish that has all the calcium is the bones. So, if you are a fish lover, you should buy sardines, salmon, and anchovies with bones. Shellfish, mackerel, oyster, grouper, eel, canned tuna, cod, haddock, tilapia, crayfish, squid, trout, crab, octopus, and shrimp are some other scrumptious options for non-vegetarians to tantalize their taste buds and get enough calcium.

  1. Spinach

Leafy greens calcium sources cannot be overlooked. In one bowl of cooked spinach, the amount of calcium is 260 mg. So, having spinach regularly will keep your bones and teeth strong. Spinach is also essential as it has potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and various other nutrients.

Kale is another leafy green veggie which can provide calcium to your body. Broccoli is another nutritious and delicious vegetable packed with fiber, calcium (47 mg in one cup), and minerals.

Should You Take Calcium Supplements?

Your diet may fail to reach your body’s calcium requirement on a daily basis, especially if you are lactose intolerant or a vegan. So, for vegans and people who are allergic to milk, doctors prescribe calcium supplements. There are many calcium supplements for expecting mothers that are easily available on the market but you should consult a doctor to pick the one that will work best for you.

Calcium supplements can be in two forms: citrate and carbonate.

  • Calcium citrate can be taken on an empty stomach or with food.
  • Calcium carbonate is affordable and you should take it with your regular meals

Note: Many pregnant women complain that calcium supplements make them constipated/ gassy/ bloated. Taking the supplement with food with reduce these side effects. If the discomfort still remains, ask your dietician to prescribe a different one.

How to Help Your Body with Calcium Absorption?

Having four servings of calcium-rich foods won’t be effective unless your body is able to absorb the calcium properly. For that, you can have foods that are packed with vitamin D as this vitamin facilitates calcium absorption. Red meat, salmon, egg yolk, mushrooms, and sardines are great sources of vitamin D. You can also order a calcium supplement that has vitamin D.

Another way to ensure maximum calcium absorption is by limiting its intake to 500 mg in one serving. This means you can take a 500 mg calcium supplement for breakfast and then have calcium-rich foods for dinner.

Side Effects of Overeating Calcium-rich Foods

If you depend on all the calcium sources during pregnancy and end up having too much calcium, you may suffer from kidney stones. It will also become challenging for your body to absorb iron and zinc. So, make sure your calcium intake does not exceed 2,500 mg per day.

To Sum Up

We may conclude by saying that calcium is an important nutrient not just for pregnant ladies but all women. To take care of your nutrition during pregnancy, calcium, and prenatal vitamins are of utmost significance. Even after delivering the baby, you should continue to have calcium-enriched foods.

As you age, there will be bone loss and thus, the American College of Obstetricians advises women above the age of 40 to have calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis later in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the best sources of calcium for pregnant women?

Broccoli and kale for calcium, oranges, milk, yogurt, cheese, dried figs, chia seeds, dates, spinach, and tofu are some foods from where you can get all the calcium you need in your pregnancy diet.

Q. How can pregnant women ensure they are getting enough calcium in their diet?

Other than having foods like calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and fish with bones for calcium, you can take a supplement to get enough calcium in your diet. Visit an accomplished nutritionist to get a diet chart curated to provide your body the optimal nutrition.

References:

The information provided in our articles is based on research work of esteemed institutions and authors who are experts in their fields.

Calcium in Pregnancy | American Pregnancy Association

Background – Guideline: Calcium Supplementation in Pregnant Women – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)

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