Now that you are pregnant, you have to eat right to incorporate the right amount of nutrients to ensure the proper development of your baby. One such essential component is calcium.
Why is calcium so important during pregnancy?
Apart from being important for your well-being, calcium along with vitamin D is essential to form your baby’s bones and teeth. Calcium additionally helps your baby grow a strong & healthy heart with a normal rhythm and also helps develop nerves and muscles with proper conduction. Calcium is also needed for your baby’s blood-clotting functioning.
How much calcium do you need during your pregnancy?
The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for calcium in Indian women during pregnancy and lactation is 1200 mg/day. The range varies from 1200-1400 mg/day depending on what your doctor deems best. The National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau(NNMB) – 2012 collected data from 10 Indian states and showed that only the 30% of RDA (400 mg/day) of calcium is consumed by most Indian women.
It is known that vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption.
What happens if there is a calcium deficiency during pregnancy?
If calcium is deficient during pregnancy, the baby will grow fine as it draws calcium from the mother. The mother, on the other hand, may have a risk of hypertension or pre-eclampsia.
What are the good sources of calcium?
Milk and dairy products are main sources, calcium-fortified bread & cereal, soy milk, juices etc. For non-vegetarians, canned fish can be an additional source.
What about calcium supplements?
Pregnant women are given prenatal vitamins along with calcium so they get around 120-150 mg of calcium in it. If your doctor advises calcium supplements separately, the frequency of consumption is as per your requirements and keeping in mind that the body can only absorb 500 mg of calcium at a time. The calcium supplements are mainly available in two forms:
- Calcium carbonate: It provides the most form of calcium, but needs more stomach acid for dissolution. So, it is best to be taken with meals.
- Calcium citrate: a lesser amount of calcium provided but more easily absorbed and does not require stomach acid. This is best taken in between meals.