Why is calcium important in pregnancy?
Calcium helps your developing baby build strong bones and teeth. Find out how much calcium you need for a healthy pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant, calcium will help your developing baby:
- Build strong bones and teeth
- Grow a healthy heart, nerves and muscles
- Develop a normal heart rhythm
- Improve blood-clotting abilities
If you don’t get enough calcium during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, your baby will draw it from your bones, which could impair your health and increase your risk for osteoporosis later in life.
How much calcium do I need?
During your pregnancy, the recommended daily intake (RDI) is the same as it is prior to pregnancy: 1000mg a day for women aged 19 to 50 years and 1300mg a day for adolescents or those aged over 51. Most women don’t get nearly enough of this important mineral. Aim for 2-3 servings of dairy products or calcium-rich foods a day. Pregnant adolescents (under the age of 18) should aim for 3-4 servings of dairy products a day. See below for some suggestions.
What foods are good sources of calcium?
Dairy products are the best sources of calcium. Low-fat milk, low-fat yoghurt and cheese all contain calcium in a form the body can easily absorb. They are also packed with other important nutrients that are good for bones and teeth, such as phosphorous, vitamin D, magnesium and protein.
Other good sources of calcium include fortified milk substitutes such as soy or almond milks, prawns, sardines, breakfast cereals, dried fruits such as figs and apricots, almonds and green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and curly kale.
Even after your baby is born and you’ve finished breastfeeding, you will need to keep your calcium intake up. You will need this vital mineral to strengthen bones and prevent bone loss as you age.