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Importance of Calcium During Pregnancy

Are you getting enough calcium during pregnancy?


You’ve heard the saying “you get out what you put in,” and our food choices, especially during pregnancy, hold true to this. Calcium is an extremely important component of a healthy diet. You need it not just for your bones, but for your heart, muscles, and nerves too. Don’t forget that your baby is “growing” an entire skeleton of bones, of which calcium is the main ingredient.

How much calcium do I need to intake during pregnancy?

Experts recommend that you get at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day during pregnancy. A thousand milligrams sounds like a lot, but by selecting your food carefully, you can get what you need.

What foods are high in calcium?

a bowl of oatmeal with almonds, a great source of calcium
Oatmeal, milk and almonds contain 300mg or more of calcium.

Several foods have 300 milligrams or more of calcium - if you eat just four of those a day, you'll hit your recommended daily intake. Some of those foods include:

  • fortified oatmeal
  • milk
  • cheddar cheese
  • almonds
  • yogurt

Coming in around 100-200 milligrams of calcium per serving, you will find foods like:

  • tofu
  • orange juice
  • baked beans
  • cottage cheese
  • poppy seeds
  • chia seeds
  • arugula
  • kale
  • broccoli

These foods have around only 100 milligrams of calcium per serving, but they are still great options to enhance your calcium intake:

  • sweet potatoes
  • collard greens
  • soy milk
  • ice cream
  • foods fortified with calcium, such as many cereals; check nutrition labels to find foods enhanced with calcium  
a bowl of broccoli which is a great source of calcium for pregnant women
Greens like broccoli and kale help contribute 100-200mg of calcium.

Don't forget about the importance of Vitamin D during pregnancy

As you select food sources for calcium, don’t forget to keep an eye on Vitamin D levels as well. Without Vitamin D, your body won’t be able to absorb the calcium effectively, no matter how much you are consuming. Experts recommend that you get 400-800 international units of Vitamin D daily.

Great sources of Vitamin D

The best place to start is the sun! That’s right, you don’t need to eat a thing, just sit down and soak it up - it’s a great excuse to take a load off and lounge in a chair for a few minutes. How much Vitamin D you will get depends on your location, age, skin pigmentation and a few other factors. While this is a great way to get Vitamin D, you are going to want to follow up with two other sources - food and supplements.

a pregnant woman looking into the sun on top of a building, sunshine being a great source of vitamin d for pregnant women
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to intake vitamin D is to soak some sun rays for a few mins.

Foods that contain Vitamin D naturally are pretty limited. Your best bet is to take a look at fatty fish options, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon. Like calcium, some foods are fortified with Vitamin D, so be sure to check your food labels as you shop. Vitamin D supplements are available and it’s easy to measure just how much you are getting by going that route.  

Tools to help you measure your vitamin intake

If you are overwhelmed by the amount of things you need to keep track of, and the thought of counting those milligrams of calcium along with everything else makes your head spin, don’t worry – there are some great tools out there that can help! The New York Department of Health has some great information on calcium. Their website gives you a guide to help you estimate the amount of calcium you are getting, and if you prefer pen and paper, they even provide a link for a worksheet you can print out. There are also several apps that you can use to track your nutrition, not just calcium. One of our favorites is called Nutrients - Nutrition Facts by Pomegranate Apps. This app allows you to search their database for foods, create your own recipes, and track specific nutrients.

Handing vitamin intake while suffering morning sickness

What do you do if you are working to get the calcium you need but morning sickness is getting in the way? Hang in there! Do your best to make wise food choices, but if you are struggling to keep food down or just don’t find food appetizing, eat what you can and when you are feeling better track your intake more closely.  

Calcium is a must, so don’t let your need for it go unmet. Keep your bones strong and give your little one the head start they need for healthy development!

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