If you are pregnant, eating foods rich in essential vitamins and minerals is extremely important. These nutrients are required to preserve your health and ensure proper development of the baby. Calcium is one such important nutrient crucial for a healthy pregnancy. It is essential for the development of bones, nerves and other important organs in the baby. It is also a very important nutrient to maintain the mother’s health during pregnancy. Eating calcium rich foods during pregnancy is the best way of ensuring you and your baby get a sufficient amount of this important mineral.
Let us understand more about this essential mineral and the top foods rich in calcium.
How Much Calcium Do Pregnant Ladies Need?
A pregnant woman needs a consistent amount of 1200 mg to 1400 mg of calcium per day. Calcium is the most essential mineral for building the skeletal system of the baby. It is also needed for the development and functioning of the heart, nervous system and muscular system in the growing baby. More calcium is needed during the third trimester when the baby’s bones develop rapidly to prepare for delivery. During this time, the growing fetus needs at least 30 gm of calcium per day.
Calcium helps prevent pregnancy related complications and other problems mothers can face. It is an essential nutrient for maintaining the mother’s health during the entire pregnancy term when the body needs to provide for the baby and also function well.
See More: Foods For Pregnant Women
Benefits of Calcium for Pregnant Mother and Unborn Baby:
Let us look at the benefits of calcium during pregnancy,
- Calcium helps in the proper growth of the fetus throughout the gestational period.
- It is the most important mineral for the development of the bones and skeletal system in the baby.
- It helps in the development of the baby’s nerves. And it is needed for the proper functioning of the nervous system as it aids in the transmission of nerve impulses.
- It is needed for building strong heart muscles and the development of a normal heartbeat and heart functioning.
- Calcium is essential for the development and functioning of muscles in the growing baby. It ensures proper muscle contractions in the baby.
- Sufficient calcium is very important for the pregnant mother as it helps regulate blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension may cause serious complications like preeclampsia which can be fatal for the baby.
- Sufficient calcium consumption ensures there is no bone loss in the mother in providing for the fetus. Bone loss during pregnancy may lead to conditions like osteoporosis later in life.
- It prevents conditions like muscle cramping, tetanus, weak teeth and bone in the mother.
- Inadequate calcium may lead to the underdeveloped fetus, weak limbs, stunted growth, low birth weight, poor fetal mineralization etc.
Calcium Rich Foods to Consume During Pregnancy:
Below is the list of top calcium rich foods that can be safely consumed during pregnancy,
1. Dairy Products:
Dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt are excellent sources of calcium. A glass of milk contains around 300 mg of calcium and half cup of cheese contains 300 to 335 mg. Yoghurt is the best calcium rich daily product as it is rich in probiotic bacteria that are useful for gut health and digestion. One cup of curd or yoghurt contains 450 mg of calcium.
Tofu is one of the highest natural sources of calcium. One cup of tofu contains 434 mg to 861 mg of calcium. You can easily include tofu in your daily diet by adding it to salads or replacing paneer with tofu in curries.
3. Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds are a great calcium source. It also has many health benefits. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 179 mg of calcium. You can consume chia seeds by adding them in smoothies, milkshakes, fruit juices, oatmeal or yoghurt.
Almonds are very nutritious and rich in calcium. Half cup of almonds contains 189 mg of calcium. You can soak almonds overnight and consume them in the morning. You can also add them in salads or eat them whole.
5. Sesame Seeds:
Sesame seeds are a very healthy source of calcium. You can consume them by adding the seeds in curries, making chikki, adding in rotis or bread etc. Two tablespoons of sesame seeds contain 180 mg of calcium.
6. Dried Figs:
Dried figs are very nutritious. They are also rich in antioxidants and fiber, which help keep the body healthy. Half cup of dried figs contains 120 mg of calcium. You can eat them whole or soak them in water overnight before consuming them in the morning.
7. Sunflower Seeds:
Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper and vitamin E. These nutrients are very beneficial during pregnancy. One cup of sunflower seeds contains 110 mg of calcium. You can consume sunflower seeds whole or add them in salads.
8. Leafy Green Veggies:
Leafy greens are a rich source of calcium and various other nutrients beneficial in pregnancy. You can easily consume leafy greens by adding them in curries, salads and smoothies. One cup of cooked spinach contains 245 mg of calcium. Whereas Mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens and kale contain 284 mg, 357 mg, 198 mg and 94 mg respectively.
Cooked beans like white beans and black eyed beans contain 211 mg and 294 mg of calcium per cup. You can eat beans by making curry or adding them in salads. Beans are also rich in other nutrients beneficial in pregnancy.
Oranges are rich in antioxidants and nutrients like calcium. One cup of orange fruit contains 40 mg of calcium. You can eat them whole or make juice. You can also add orange chunks in salads.
Kiwi is nutritious and rich in antioxidants. It is a very good fruit during pregnancy. One cup of kiwi fruit contains 34 mg of calcium. You can eat kiwi whole or add them in smoothies. There are also many recipes where kiwis are a delicious addition.
Strawberries are a delicious way of consuming calcium. One cup of strawberries contains 16 mg of calcium. Strawberries are best eaten whole. And you can also be them in smoothies or yoghurt.
See More: Kiwi Fruit During Pregnancy
Effects of Excessive Calcium Consumption During Pregnancy:
Like with any other foods, calcium intake also has limitations, you must make sure not to exceed taking 2500 mg per day. Excess consumption can cause adverse effects like constipation and kidney stones. It also hinders the absorption of other important minerals by the body like iron and zinc.
We are sure this article has provided all the information you are looking for regarding the importance of calcium during pregnancy. What to eat during pregnancy is not more a question! Boost your calcium intake by eating the delicious calcium rich sources mentioned above. Let us know about your pregnancy experience and how this article helped you in the comments below. Have a safe and happy pregnancy!
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
Q1. Can I take calcium supplements during pregnancy?
Ans: Calcium supplements are the best way of ensuring you get enough calcium per day. It is best suitable for people who do not eat dairy or meat. Calcium supplements come in the form of calcium citrate and calcium carbonate in India. You must also limit the intake to 500 mg at a time, exceeding which the body finds it difficult to absorb and may lead to side effects.
Calcium carbonate contains the highest amount of calcium but needs stomach acids for absorption, so it must be taken along with meals.
Calcium citrate is easily absorbed by the body without stomach acids, so it can be taken on an empty stomach as well. But calcium citrate supplements contain less calcium.
Q2. What are the benefits of eating calcium rich foods after delivery or pregnancy?
Ans: Every woman needs at least 1000 mg of calcium per day, even when she is not pregnant. A breastfeeding woman needs 1200 mg to 1400 mg of calcium a day. She is eating calcium rich foods every day even after the pregnancy is essential for a healthy body and for avoiding diseases like osteoporosis etc.
Calcium is needed for building strong bones and teeth, maintaining and repairing them. It is also an important mineral for the proper functioning of many organs like the heart, nerves, muscles, blood etc. Calcium deficiency has many risks like loss of bone mass, organ dysfunction, inefficient metabolism etc.
Q3. What are the best calcium and iron rich foods a pregnant woman can eat?
Ans: Iron and calcium are very important minerals needed during pregnancy. Lean meats, milk, cheese, seafood, yoghurt, tofu, leafy greens, beans, cereals, broccoli, spinach, cabbage are all rich in iron and calcium.