You’ve heard that say you get what you put in, and our food choices, especially during pregnancy, are true to this. Calcium is an extremely important component of a healthy diet. You need it not only for your bones, but also for your hearts, muscles and nerves. Don’t forget that your baby is developing into a skeleton, of which calcium is the main ingredient.
How much calcium do I need while pregnant?
Experts recommend getting at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day during pregnancy. One thousand milligrams sounds a lot, but by choosing your foods carefully, you can get what you need.
Which foods are high in calcium?
Some foods have 300 milligrams or more of calcium – if you only eat four of them per day, you’ll reach the recommended daily intake. Some of those foods include:
- fortified oatmeal
- cheddar cheese
Having around 100-200 milligrams of calcium per serving, you’ll find foods like:
- Orange juice
- baked beans
- poppy seed
- chia seeds
These foods only have about 100 milligrams of calcium per serving, but they are still great options to boost your calcium intake:
- sweet potato
- collard greens
- calcium fortified foods, such as many grains; Check the nutrition label for calcium fortified foods
Don’t forget about the importance of Vitamin D during pregnancy
When you choose food sources for calcium, don’t forget to keep an eye on Vitamin D levels. Without Vitamin D, your body won’t be able to absorb calcium effectively, no matter how much you are consuming. Experts recommend getting 400-800 international units of Vitamin D per day.
Excellent source of vitamin D
The best place to start is the sun! That’s right, you don’t need to eat something, just sit down and soak it – that’s a great reason to offload and lie on a chair for a few minutes. How much Vitamin D you will get depends on your location, age, skin pigmentation and a few other factors. While this is a great way to get Vitamin D, you’ll want to follow up with two other sources – foods and supplements.
Foods that contain natural Vitamin D are quite limited. Your best bet is to look at fatty fish options, like tuna, mackerel and salmon. Like calcium, some foods are fortified with Vitamin D, so be sure to check your food labels when you shop. Vitamin D supplements are available and it’s easy to measure how much you are getting by going that route.
Tool to help you measure your vitamin intake
If you are overwhelmed by the amount of things you need to watch for and the thought of counting those milligrams of calcium along with everything else makes your mind reel, don’t worry – there are some great tools to help you out! The New York Department of Health has some great facts about calcium. Their website gives you a guide to help you estimate how much calcium you’re getting, and if you like pens and paper, they even provide a link for a spreadsheet you can print out. There are also a number of apps you can use to track your nutrition, not just calcium. One of our favorites is called Pomegranate App’s Nutrients – Nutrition Facts. This application allows you to search their database for foods, create your own recipes and keep track of specific nutrients.
Provide vitamins during morning sickness
What would you do if you were working to get the calcium you needed but morning sickness was hindering? Hang there! Do your best to make wise food choices, but if you’re struggling to keep food down or just don’t feel good, eat what you can and when you feel better keeping track of your intake. its tighter.
Calcium is a must, so don’t let your needs go unmet. Keep your bones strong and give your baby the start they need to grow healthy!