Getting enough calcium during pregnancy is important to support both you and your baby. Your body always needs calcium, but many moms don’t realize that calcium requirements go up significantly during pregnancy, when calcium is used to help build your baby’s bones and teeth while also maintaining yours.
Although most of your calcium in your body is found in your bones, calcium also serves other important functions. It allows blood to clot normally, muscles and nerves to function properly, and the heart to beat normally.
If you do not consume an adequate amount of calcium during pregnancy, calcium will leach out of your bones to support your baby. As a result, you increase your risk for developing osteoporosis later in life. With osteoporosis comes dramatic thinning of your bones, resulting in weak, brittle bones that can easily be broken.
The recommended amount of calcium is 1,300 milligrams per day for pregnant women. Thirteen hundred milligrams of calcium is equivalent to about four servings of dairy products and calcium–rich foods a day.
The best sources of calcium include dairy products. Milk, cheese, yogurt, cream soups, and pudding are rich in calcium. Calcium can also be found in foods including dark green vegetables (kale, spinach, and broccoli), seafood, dried peas, and beans.
If you have a difficulty consuming adequate amounts of calcium-rich foods in your daily meal plan, it may be best to consult with your physician and dietitian about a calcium supplement.
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, November 2018
- Calcium allows blood to clot normally, muscles and nerves to function properly, and the heart to beat normally.
- If you do not consume an adequate amount of calcium during pregnancy, you put yourself at risk for developing osteoporosis.
- The recommended amount of calcium is about four servings of dairy products and calcium–rich foods a day for pregnant women over the age of 24.
- The best sources of calcium include dairy products, including milk, cheese, yogurt, cream soups and pudding. Calcium is also found in dark leafy vegetables.