How Much Calcium Should I Get during Pregnancy?

One of the most important nutrients for your baby’s growth and development, as well as your own health during pregnancy and beyond, is calcium. Calcium helps your baby to develop properly. More than just helping with bone development, calcium contributes to heart, nerve, and muscle development, too. If you don’t get enough calcium, your body will likely pull in calcium from your bones to help your baby grow the way that she needs to grow, causing you greater potential problems down the road.

You should get about 1,000 mg of calcium each day while you’re pregnant. For most women, this comes as a combination of diet and supplements. Most prenatal vitamins contain around 175 mg of calcium, although you should check your label because it can vary somewhat from one brand to the next. You can take an additional calcium supplement, too. Just remember that your body is only able to properly process around 500 mg of calcium at a time, so you should make sure you space those supplements out at least a few hours.

Getting calcium from the foods you eat is more ideal, of course. Most of the food sources for calcium come from dairy products, although there are some other important sources. Dairy products that will contain calcium include yogurt, cheeses such as ricotta, mozzarella, and cheddar, skim milk, and others. There are some fish that tend to have decent amounts of calcium as well, including sardines and salmon. Other sources include tofu, spinach, sesame seeds and dry roasted almonds. Some of these foods contain as much as 300 mg or more of calcium, while others may contain as little as 75 mg.

Generally speaking, you’ll want to keep your calcium intake under 2500 mg a day. There can be some side effects to getting too much calcium. For example, many pregnant women already struggle with constipation, and calcium can add to that. Too much calcium can also contribute to kidney stones and some other health issues.

Make sure to add vitamin D to your pregnancy diet, as well. Vitamin D aids the body in the absorption of calcium.

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