Your diet and nutrition help to keep your body healthy and nourish your growing baby during pregnancy. If you do not get enough of some vitamins and minerals, it can have adverse effects on your baby’s development. Calcium is an important nutrient, and it is important to know how much is needed during pregnancy and how to safely get the recommended amount.
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During pregnancy, calcium helps to build your baby’s bones, teeth, nerves and muscles. It also helps his body to establish a normal heart rhythm. If you do not get enough calcium during pregnancy, your baby will need to draw calcium from your bones to meet his needs, which can result in bone loss later in life. Getting sufficient calcium during pregnancy also helps your circulatory, muscular and nervous systems run normally.
Babycenter states that you need 1,000 mg of calcium a day before, during and after your pregnancy. If you are under 18 years of age, you need slightly more calcium than an adult. Your calcium needs increase to 1,300 mg a day before, during and after pregnancy.
Sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, leafy greens and fortified products like cereal and juice. One cup of plain yogurt contains 488 mg of calcium, 8 ounces of milk has 301 mg of calcium and one half cup of spinach has 136 mg. Prenatal vitamins also contain part of your daily recommended amount of calcium. According to Babycenter, your body can only absorb 500 mg of calcium at a time, so try to spread out your intake of calcium food sources or supplements throughout the day.
Consuming too much calcium can cause constipation, increase your risk of developing kidney stones and hinder your body’s absorption of iron and zinc, two other nutrients that are important during pregnancy. Avoid exceeding more than 2,500 mg of calcium a day. Also, some calcium supplements have lead that can be harmful to your unborn baby. When choosing a calcium supplement, look for one that does not contain lead.