Calcium during pregnancy: Why is it important and what are the calcium rich foods?

Calcium during pregnancy

Why do you need calcium during pregnancy

You need calcium when you're pregnant for your developing baby to build strong bones and teeth; to develop a healthy heart, muscles, and nerves. Calcium also helps your baby develop a good heart rhythm and with blood-clotting abilities. Calcium also reduces the risk of pregnancy related hypertension and preeclampsia. Moreover, think about it - if you’re low on calcium, your baby will take its needs off of your bones, which will end up harming you in the long run.

How much calcium do I need?

Women over 18: 1,000 milligrams (mg) a day before, during, and after pregnancy

Women 18 and under: 1,300 mg

Aim for four servings of dairy products or other calcium-rich foods a day. See our list of suggestions below.

Sources of calcium rich foods during pregnancy

Milk and other dairy products are top sources. So is canned fish and other calcium-fortified foods. Not all brands are fortified and many of these aren’t so available in India as they are in the Western world. So you may just have to go with natural foods and a supplement. Here is a list of calcium rich foods you can safely consume during pregnancy:

  • 1 cup plain skim-milk yogurt: 488 mg
  • 1 cup nonfat fruit yogurt: 345 mg
  • 1/2 cup paneer: 337 mg
  • 90 g sardines: 324 mg
  • 240 ml skim milk: 301 mg
  • 1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice: 300 mg
  • 30 g Gruyere cheese: 287 mg
  • 1/2 cup firm tofu: 253 mg
  • 30 g mozzarella cheese: 222 mg
  • 30 g cheddar cheese: 204 mg
  • 90 g pink salmon: 181 mg
  • 1/2 cup cooked spinach: 136 mg
  • 1/2 cup boiled turnip greens: 98 mg
  • 2 corn tortillas: 92 mg
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds: 88 mg
  • 20 dry roasted almonds: 75 mg

Should you take a supplement?

A prenatal vitamin gives you 150 to 200 mg of calcium. Don't overdo it. Excess calcium causes constipation and that’s one less issue you can do with. It can also increase your risk of kidney stones, and hinder your body's natural absorption of iron and/or zinc from foods.

Make sure your total tally from food, supplements, and water doesn't exceed 2500 mg a day. Try to get your fix from natural sources as best you can.