Calcium During Pregnancy
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Why you need it and what it does
Calcium supports the healthy maintenance and development of not only your bones and teeth, but also of the circulatory, muscular and nervous systems. Pregnancy increases the demand, as your baby has all the same needs that you have. When it comes to calcium, you really are eating for two.
How to get it into your diet
You need to consume around 1000mg of calcium a day while you are pregnant. As with all other minerals and vitamins, the best way to get the right amount is through a healthy balanced diet. Calcium is found in a wide range of foods, including green leafy vegetables, some oily fish, figs, rhubarb and most nuts - almonds are particularly good. Of course, dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt all contain substantial amounts of calcium. To gauge your own intake, a 200g pot of yoghurt contains about 300mg of calcium. If you observe a vegan, or a dairy free diet for health reasons, most soya milks are fortified with calcium. Excessive caffeine intake can prevent the absorption of calcium by the body, so try to reduce your tea and coffee drinking as much as possible during pregnancy. If you are concerned that you normal diet may lead you to not be getting enough calcium, you can take supplements, but make sure that they are specifically designed for pregnancy. Multivitamins for ordinary consumption may contain dangerously high levels of vitamin A which can be harmful to your developing baby. You can always discuss this important issue with your midwife or GP if you have any concerns.
And another reason why calcium matters...
Your body will prioritise your baby's need for calcium over yours, and will extract the mineral from your stores, which are primarily in your bones and teeth, if your consumption falls too low. This can lead to, or compound, health problems for mothers later in life. Furthermore, studies in the USA in 2000 showed that when the body releases calcium from your bones, as a result of under-consumption during pregnancy, it also releases unhealthy levels of lead too. Lead has often been absorbed into the bodies of women in first world societies through air pollution, and can also present a risk to the developing baby.