Calcium is needed to protect and preserve women’s bones. When pregnant, calcium intake is especially important. As a fetus’s skeleton develops, it needs a great amount of calcium. The baby gets its vitamins and nutrients from its mother, especially during the third trimester. If a mother does not take in enough calcium from what she consumes, she can get health problems and increase the risk of poor bone health.
Women can avoid bone health hazards while pregnant. But it is not because they are taking in the amount of calcium needed. While pregnant, the women’s body can absorb higher amounts of calcium. This is especially true during the final 20 weeks of pregnancy, the period when the baby needs the most calcium to grow and develop. Extra estrogen created during pregnancy helps defend a woman’s bones. However, calcium has other health benefits besides bone protection.
Consuming an adequate amount of calcium during pregnancy helps women avoid developing preeclampsia. If a woman gets preeclampsia, she can get high blood pressure and an overabundance of protein in the urine at a later time of the pregnancy. If not treated, preeclampsia lessens the flow of blood to the fetus, leading to a low birth weight and/or premature birth. The placenta can also break away from the uterine wall too early. The HELLP syndrome and eclampsia, which can harm the mother, are other complications that can occur. The only way to cure preeclampsia is birthing the baby.
Preventing preeclampsia seems to be the best treatment, and consuming adequate calcium can help in prevention. Pregnant women older than 24 should take in the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of 1200 mg of calcium per day. Because pregnant women under age 24 are growing their own and their baby’s bone mass, they need an extra 300 mg/day of calcium.
Pregnant women can consume calcium through diet by adding at least four servings of dairy products such as cheese, milk, yogurt and ice cream (in moderation) to their meals. Green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are high in calcium. Other foods high in calcium include shrimp, sardines, dried beans, dried peas and tofu.
Although it is important to consume sufficient calcium, it can sometimes be an issue to take in too much calcium through diet. When consuming calcium, women should not consume more than 2500/mg day through their diet and supplements. Discuss calcium supplements with a doctor to determine one that provides just the right amount of calcium.
Taking in an appropriate amount of calcium during pregnancy helps mothers keep their own health strong while also shielding the health of their unborn babies.