How Your Body Copes With Babys Demands
The good news is that, during pregnancy, the amount of calcium our body absorbs doubles to help meet our babys needs. Meeting your daily calcium requirements will ensure you meet your babys.
The bad news: You lose this superpower after giving birth. Postpartum, its back to the status quo. You will return to only absorbing about a quarter of the calcium you eat, like other ordinary humans. Unfortunately, your babys need for calcium remains high. The average baby under 6 months of age needs 200 mg a day. And if you are breastfeeding, this comes from you.
Our babies literally steal calcium from our bones. And this only gets worse after birth.
So where does all this calcium come from? From your bones.
The average woman loses 3-5% of her bone mass during pregnancy and breastfeeding. She will lose even more if she gets too little calcium from her diet.
Although you cannot completely prevent this lossit is a normal and inevitable part of breastfeedingmaking sure you get plenty of calcium while breastfeeding can limit the amount you lose.
This sounds scary, but take heart: Women typically recover their bone mass within six months of weaning. And most studies find having children and breastfeeding doesnt raise a womans risk of osteoporosis or bone fractures later in life.
That said, getting extra calcium after weaning can help boost your bones recovery.
How Much Calcium Do You Need When Youre Pregnant
Because your body cant make calcium, the only source is through your diet. An adequate intake stops your body withdrawing calcium from your own stores, which could affect your own bone health. So as well as helping your baby grow and develop normally, a healthy calcium intake in pregnancy is important for your own bone health too2.
Even though your baby requires plenty of calcium, the daily recommended amount for women during pregnancy is the same as it would usually be 700mg per day1. What can be different is that your body cleverly adapts to help serve your growing babys needs, absorbing more of the calcium you eat, and making more available to meet the increased demands2.
Once your baby is born, breast milk takes on the job of providing all the calcium your baby needs. If you decide to breastfeed your baby, you shouldnt need to make any special dietary changes but its a good idea to eat healthily. You can always talk to your midwife or healthcare professional if youd like more advice.
Because of our moderate dairy intake, most people in the UK get enough calcium without making a special effort. If youre vegan or follow a plant-based diet, or unable to eat dairy foods for another reason, you may need to top up your daily intake with a calcium supplementduring your pregnancy. Its important to talk to your midwife or other healthcare professional before talking any supplements during pregnancy.
Should You Take Calcium Supplements During Pregnancy
Calcium supplements are generally considered safe for moms-to-be, however, too much calcium from supplements can cause unpleasant side effects like gas or constipation. A calcium-containing prenatal, in combination with sufficient food sources of calcium throughout the day, will usually offer enough of the mineral to support both you and your baby during pregnancy.
If you think your consumption might be low or if youre vegan or lactose intolerant, pay extra attention to plant sources of calcium such as dark leafy greens, tofu and nuts and ask your practitioner if you should consider a supplement. Your healthcare provider may also recommend a calcium supplement if you have inadequate intake and are at risk for developing preeclampsia. If you’re also taking supplemental iron, keep in mind that you should not take calcium at the same time, since it can interfere with iron absorption .
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
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How To Get The Calcium You Need During Pregnancy
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, 99% of which is found in your bones and teeth after all, its main purpose is to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. The remaining 1% of your calcium is used for blood vessel dilation and constriction, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and hormone secretion.
During pregnancy, calcium stores in the expecting parent’s body are the main source of the nutrient for the fetus. A baby’s bones grow the most rapidly in the third trimester, and during this time an estimated 200-250 mg is transferred to the fetus per day. But heres where the calcium story gets really interesting: The Dietary Reference Intake , which is the amount you need to consume on a daily basis, is the same for pregnant people and non-pregnant people with ovaries despite the extra demand on a pregnant person’s body.
All adults with ovaries are advised by the National Institutes of Health to get 1,000 mg per day of calcium the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the same for pregnant people and during lactation . The DRI for calcium only increases to 1,200 mg post-menopause.
Why Is Calcium Important In Pregnancy
Its common knowledge that calcium is crucial for proper foetal bone and teeth development. But were you aware that you and your baby need calcium to maintain a normal heart beat? Or that adequate hormone secretion, muscle contraction, nerve transmission and blood clotting depend on your calcium intake?
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Types Of Calcium Supplements
Calcium supplements include:
- Prenatal vitamins: While they usually contain a little calcium, its not enough to cover your daily requirement. You will still have to get calcium through your diet. Different brands have different amounts of vitamins and minerals, so check the label and talk to your doctor.
- Calcium citrate: Your doctor may recommend a calcium citrate supplement if you are having trouble getting enough calcium or you are at risk for high blood pressure in pregnancy.
- Calcium carbonate: Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in some antacids such as Tums. Let your doctor know if you use Tums to relieve heartburn and follow your doctors advice on how to take it. Depending on how many times you take Tums each day and your overall diet, you could be getting too much calcium.
How Can You Boost Your Calcium Intake During Pregnancy
Before you take steps to boost your calcium levels, you must know how much calcium you need during pregnancy. Pregnancy does not increase the requirement of calcium. If you are an adult woman , you must intake 1000 mg calcium throughout your pregnancy and breastfeeding.
For minors, the quantity increases to 1300 mg per day.
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Calcium Metabolism During Pregnancy
During the course of pregnancy, a remarkable series of physiologic changes occur, aimed at preserving maternal homeostasis while at the same time providing for fetal growth and development. These changes which have direct implications on calcium metabolism include falling albumin level, expansion of extracellular fluid volume, increase in renal function and placental calcium transfer. Calcium homeostasis is a complex process involving calcium and three calcitropic hormonesparathyroid hormone, calcitonin and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D 3 2D). Total serum concentrations fall during pregnancy due to hemodilution. This fall mainly occurs in albumin bound fraction of the total calcium and due to fall in serum albumin. Ionized calcium levels do not differ from that in non-pregnant women. However, constant blood levels of calcium are maintained by homeostatic control mechanism. Calcium homeostatic response during pregnancy includes increase in intestinal calcium absorption, increase in urinary excretion of calcium and increase bone turnover. The skeleton of a newborn baby contains approximately 2030 g of calcium . The bulk of fetal skeletal growth takes place from midpregnancy onward, with maximal calcium accretion occurring during the third trimester.
Folic Acid Before And During Pregnancy
Its important to take a 400 micrograms folic acid tablet every day before you’re pregnant and until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.
Folic acid can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida.
If you did not take folic acid before you conceived, you should start as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.
Try to eat green leafy vegetables which contain folate and breakfast cereals and fat spreads with folic acid added to them.
It’s difficult to get the amount of folate recommended for a healthy pregnancy from food alone, which is why it’s important to take a folic acid supplement.
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In Case Of Inadequate Calcium Intake The Foetus Will Take What It Needs From The Mother This Can Lead To Osteoporosis Or Cavities
Studies suggest that women lose about 3 to 6% of their bone mass during pregnancy. However, this lost bone is replaced within a few months after pregnancy and the bone density returns to normal. Some women even experience an increase in bone density!
No link has been found between osteoporosis and calcium loss during pregnancy. Researchers explain that the low postpartum bone mass observed among some women cannot be attributed to an inadequate diet or to foetal calcium needs but to:
- Pre-pregnancy low bone density
- Medications like heparin, anticonvulsants, and corticosteroids
- Certain diseases.
And no, your baby wont take calcium from your teeth. The cavities observed by new mothers are often due to an increased consumption of sweets, changes in oral hygiene and vomiting.
Calcium Transfer From Mother To Fetus
By the time of parturition, a fetus has formed 98% of its skeleton, accumulating approximately 30g of calcium. Calcium is actively transported across the placenta, with the transfer from mother to fetus beginning by week 12 of gestation and peaking at week 36. Placental calcium transport is dependent upon transport proteins located in the syncytiotrophoblast, which forms a barrier between the mother and fetus. Ninety-nine percent of the flow of calcium is maternal-to-fetal, and this active, one-way process is under way by the third trimester, when the majority of calcium is transferred, with the fetus accumulating 250350mg/day., A more complete review of the proteins involved in the transfer of calcium from mother to fetus is provided by Belkacemi etal.
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Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin that is important for pregnant women. Folic acid may help prevent major birth defects of the fetuss brain and spine called neural tube defects .
When you are pregnant you need 600 micrograms of folic acid each day. Because its hard to get this much folic acid from food alone, you should take a daily prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms starting at least 1 month before pregnancy and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Women who have had a child with an NTD should take 4 milligrams of folic acid each day as a separate supplement at least 3 months before pregnancy and for the first 3 months of pregnancy. You and your ob-gyn or other obstetric care provider can discuss whether you need to supplement with more than 400 micrograms daily.
Iron is used by your body to make the extra blood that you and your fetus need during pregnancy. Women who are not pregnant need 18 mg of iron per day. Pregnant women need more, 27 mg per day. This increased amount is found in most prenatal vitamins.
Calcium is a mineral that builds your fetuss bones and teeth. Women who are age 18 or younger need 1,300 mg of calcium per day. Women who are 19 or older need 1,000 mg per day.
Give you energy
Supply energy for your fetuss development
Promote good vision
Vitamin C In Pregnancy
Vitamin C protects cells and helps keep them healthy.
It’s found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, and a balanced diet can provide all the vitamin C you need.
Good sources include:
- soya drinks with added calcium
- bread and any foods made with fortified flour
- fish where you eat the bones, such as sardines and pilchards
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Dietary Intake Of Calcium
Average daily dietary intakes of the 255 study subjects from North India were as follows: energy 1563 ± 267 kcal protein 48.7 ± 8.7 g fat 31.3 ± 9.3 g and calcium 543.7 ± 161.3 mg. Diets were typically cereal based with a very low intake of protective foods such as milk and milk products, flesh foods, fish, fruits and vegetables. Animal sources of protein were consumed irregularly .
Women who chronically consume low amounts of calcium may be at risk for increased bone turnover during pregnancy. If diet does not provide enough calcium, then body steals it from the bones. Dietary calcium intake has a negative correlation with bone resorption markers. High calcium intake is associated with improved calcium balance, perhaps providing a protective effect against bone loss during pregnancy.
Zeni et al. reported that as dietary calcium intake increased in women with previously low intakes, production of 1-a-hydroxylase was upregulated to increase activation of 1,252D, resulting in increased calcium absorption. This increase in calcium absorption decreased markers of bone resorption. This suggests that an increase in 1,25 2D may allow the maternal skeleton to store calcium in advance of peak fetal demands later in pregnancy.
National dietary surveys of American Diet Association have reported that the median calcium intake of women of reproductive age is 467 mg/day for African-American women and 642 mg/day for Caucasian women .
What Is Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. Taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects . Some studies show that taking folic acid may help prevent heart defects and birth defects in your babys mouth .
- Before pregnancy take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid every day.
- Take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid each day, even if youre not trying to get pregnant.
- During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin each day that has 600 mcg of folic acid in it.
Check the product label to see how much folic acid is in it.
If youre at high risk for having a baby with an NTD, talk to your provider about how you can safely take 4,000 mcg of folic acid each day to help prevent an NTD. Start taking 4,000 mcg at least 3 months before you get pregnant and through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Youre at high risk if:
- Youve had a pregnancy with an NTD in the past.
- You or your partner has an NTD.
- Your partner has a child with an NTD.
Dont take several multivitamins or prenatal vitamins. You can get too much of other nutrients, which may be harmful to your health. Your provider can help you figure out the best and safest way for you to get the right amount of folic acid.
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To Be Mums: Are You Taking Enough Calcium During Pregnancy
Guest Author: Henna Sammy
How much calcium do you need during pregnancy? Are you aware of it? Do you know how important calcium is for your health and baby? Lets find the answers to these questions.
Your baby has to develop with strong bones and teeth, a healthy heart, good limbs, nerves, and muscles.
Calcium helps your baby develop these, along with abilities to clot blood and develop normal heart-rhythm. If you do not have enough calcium during pregnancy, your baby will retrieve calcium from your body, eventually making your bones grow weak.
While the effects wont be significant when you are young and lithe, you will realize the repercussions of not having enough calcium after age 40.
How Much Calcium Do I Need
During your pregnancy, the recommended daily intake is the same as it is prior to pregnancy: 1000mg a day for women aged 19 to 50 years and 1300mg a day for adolescents or those aged over 51. Most women dont get nearly enough of this important mineral. Aim for 2-3 servings of dairy products or calcium-rich foods a day. Pregnant adolescents should aim for 3-4 servings of dairy products a day. See below for some suggestions.
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Selection Of Studies And Data Extraction
The titles, abstracts and descriptor terms of all material downloaded from the electronic searches were read and irrelevant reports were discarded. All citations identified were then inspected to establish the relevance of the article according to the inclusion criteria. Where there was uncertainty about relevance, the full article was obtained. Studies were reviewed for relevance on the basis of study design, types of participants, exposures and outcome measures. Standardized data extraction forms were used, one for clinical trials and one for cohort/cross-sectional studies. The following characteristics were extracted from each study included:
a) Administrative details: identification author published or unpublished year of publication year in which study was conducted details of other relevant papers cited.
b) Details of study: study design method of recruitment inclusion and exclusion criteria number of participants assessed for eligibility, number excluded, number enrolled, number analyzed type, duration, frequency and completeness of follow-up in the case of cohort studies country and location of the study.
c) Characteristics of participants: age location details of intervention.
d) Crude and adjusted measures of effect, confidence intervals and p-values were extracted. When an adjusted analysis was performed, type of analysis and the list of covariates adjusted for were recorded.