They’ll run around the house, jump down stairs, participate in sport or simply test their strength to prove their physical abilities. And although they’re quite a few years from that, babies and their bones need to be nourished and strengthened even before they’re born.
This is why the nutrition a baby gets while in the womb is of paramount importance to its good health in the future. Especially essential to the birth of a strong, robust baby is calcium.
As a soon to be mummy you need calcium to cover your nutritional needs and the needs of your baby
who will be born with 30g of calcium in his body, with the bulk being supplied during the last trimester.
Quite simply, this means that in addition to your body's needs during pregnancy, your baby alone will need 300 mg of calcium per day. And any lack will lead to the weakening of bones, especially if you have had multiple pregnancies. A diet with enough amounts of calcium is important to keep the bones healthy and the level of calcium normal in the blood.
So how do you detect a calcium deficiency?
When calcium intake is low or biologically unavailable due to low absorption, your body will naturally increase the secretion of the parathyroid gland in order to maintain a normal calcium level. This consequently removes calcium from the bones and can lead to a variety of physical problems, such as:
- Muscle stiffness: When the calcium level in the blood declines, irregular muscle movements in pregnant women can sometimes cause stiffness and cramps.
- Osteoporosis: Usually characterized by easily fractured bones, this condition often occurs during menopause when women have less than the optimal intake of calcium in previous stages (especially during pregnancy).
What happens to your baby when you have a calcium deficiency during your pregnancy?
As the sole source of nutrients for your developing child, any deficiency you may have will negatively affect your baby. And low calcium content can probably lead to a plethora of conditions including osteomalacia, rickets, weak bones, teething delay, walking delay, tetany…etc.
How do I increase my intake of calcium?
You can cover your calcium needs by increasing your intake from milk and dairy products and always ask your doctor if you need extra amounts through calcium supplements.
Your calcium needs during pregnancy range between 1000-1300 mg per day. This can be achieved by having 3 to 4 glasses of milk or other dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and labneh. Other sources of calcium include sardines, fish eaten with their bones, almonds, and green leafy vegetables like spinach. However, dairy products are your best choice because of their higher level of absorption by the body.
Simple examples on how to incorporate calcium sources in your daily meals:
- Breakfast: 1 glass of low fat milk + whole grain cereal
- Snack: 1 banana and a handful of some nuts
- Lunch: 1 cup rice + grilled fish + green leafy salad
- Snack: 1 cup fruited yoghurt or plain laban + 2 biscuits
- Dinner: 1 glass of low fat milk + cheese and vegetable sandwich
Good to know
Getting enough calcium everyday is the key to maintaining healthy and strong bones throughout life. 2 glasses of Nestlé NESVITA® Pro-Bones Low Fat or 0 Fat provide women (aged 19-50) with 100% of their daily calcium requirements, and also comes with Calcilock™, a unique combination of nutrients that helps absorb and lock the calcium into the bones.