Good nutrition is important at all stages of your life, but it’s especially important during pregnancy. Little fetuses confiscate as many nutrients as they can to grow big and strong, so it’s important to make sure you’re giving the little beasts what they need. One of those important nutrients? Calcium. And today Dr. Amos Grunebaum, board certified in obstetrics/gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk pregnancy) shares a few things you should know about the all-important nutrient.
According to Grunebaum, who helped formulate the PregnancyPlus Cal-Mag dietary supplement, a controversial study linking calcium supplements to heart attacks shouldn’t make moms and moms to be avoid it because a high calcium intake can help prevent osteoporosis.
“A woman is also susceptible to bone loss during pregnancy and lactation, as her nutrient stores are continually tapped to ensure the growing baby receives proper nourishment,” he says. Calcium supplementation during pregnancy also reduces the serious disease preeclampsia, which is a major cause of maternal mortality around the world.
Because the role of calcium in supporting a healthy pregnancy is clear, Dr. Grunebaum warns that “controversial study results must always be evaluated carefully” and “women should continue to be encouraged to ensure sufficient calcium intake from both food and supplements.” Below is a list of five things trying-to-conceive, pregnant or breastfeeding women need to know about their calcium intake.
5 Things You Should Know About Pregnancy and Calcium
1. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can deplete a woman’s nutrient stores. Adequate intake of calcium is especially important during pregnancy and breastfeeding, unique times in a woman’s life when her own nutritional stores are constantly tapped to ensure that her growing child is properly nourished.
2. Experts recommend taking no more than 500 milligrams of supplemental calcium at one time. Some researchers have theorized that calcium supplements cause a spike in blood calcium levels, and extra calcium circulating in the bloodstream can attach itself to plaque in the walls of the arteries, ultimately leading to hardening of the arteries. By limiting the supplemental dose to 500 milligrams, it removes any chance that the supplemental calcium will end up in the walls of arteries, where it is not needed or wanted.
3. Calcium does not work alone. To work effectively, calcium needs both magnesium and vitamin D. Magnesium helps transport calcium into the bones, and vitamin D enhances calcium absorption. It is important that women choose a calcium supplement that also contains magnesium and vitamin D to obtain maximum support.
4. Consider the form of calcium in the supplement. Supplemental calcium comes in a variety of forms. While calcium carbonate is the most common supplemental form, calcium citrate is thought have better absorption rates. It is recommended to choose a supplement that contains a combination of calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, and calcium supplements should always be taken with food.
5. Include calcium-rich foods in the diet, such as low-fat dairy products (milk and yogurt) and green-leafy vegetables. The healthiest choice is always to obtain vitamins and minerals from a variety of food sources, and to supplement when necessary.
What is your favorite way to increase your calcium intake? I’m all over the string cheese! —Erin