Can You Take Calcium Tablets While Pregnant?

Having a baby growing inside your body means that your calcium requirements are much greater; double in fact. Your baby needs it as his teeth and bones form and if your diet is deficient in calcium, your baby will extract it from your bones, which means yours will become more brittle. You’ve probably heard of osteoporosis and think that it’s a condition that occurs only in elderly women, yet it’s a very real risk in pregnant women who don’t get enough calcium in their diets. An extra 40% of calcium per day is required to maintain healthy levels and that means about three extra servings of milk or other dairy products.

For some women, calcium tablets are prescribed. For instance, if the mother-to-be is having difficulty keeping food down due to nausea and morning sickness, or if she is lactose intolerant and simply can’t eat enough calcium-rich foods to make up for the shortfall, her doctor will write a script for a supplement.

It should be noted, however, that most women will obtain their total recommended dietary intake of calcium just by eating their regular foods and adding a couple of extra serves of yoghurt, cheese and even ice cream.

Interestingly, if taking additional iron, calcium should be taken at least one hour afterwards because calcium actually inhibits the absorption of iron.

Rather than pop a pill, if you don’t have to then it’s much better to enhance your diet with calcium-rich foods. Not just better but far tastier! There is so much variety in the American diet that there’s no excuse for not having access to lovely, fresh, wholesome foods. Fish whose bones you also eat, such as sardines, anchovies and salmon, are rich in calcium. Simply mash together with the bones and create a delicious sandwich filling with some mayonnaise and chopped pickles. Green, leafy vegetables are also a great source of calcium so add a few lettuce leaves to that sandwich while you’re at it. Try spinach, kale and cabbage for variety. Vegetarians will be happy to know, if they didn’t already, that tofu and baked beans are also excellent sources.

Yoghurt is extremely nutritious and full of flavor and is arguably a better source of calcium than milk. Lactose intolerant women can try calcium-enriched products such as soy or rice milk.

For pregnant women, having sufficient levels of calcium also means their chances of developing high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia are reduced by 60-70%.

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