Calcium supplements during pregnancy: what should I take? | Nourish with Melanie #115

Calcium is an important nutrient during pregnancy, and if you're not getting enough from your

diet, you may need a supplement.

In today's video, we'll discuss calcium supplements during pregnancy: how to know whether or not

you need one, which type to take and what dose.

Stay tuned!

Hi, my name is Melanie McGrice and I'm a fertility and prenatal dietitian.

I help people have healthy babies and give their baby the best possible start in life

through the power of good nutrition.

You can find more info about my work at

Calcium is an essential nutrient during pregnancy.

Your baby needs calcium to grow strong bones and teeth, to grow a healthy heart, nerves

and muscles, and to develop a normal heart rhythm and blood clotting abilities.

Although your calcium requirements don't increase during pregnancy, they stay at your normal

levels depending upon your age... so 1300 milligrams per day for women under the age

of 18, and 1000 milligrams per day for the rest of us.

So although they don't necessarily increase, many women that I see don't

get enough calcium in their diet to start with.

In addition to meeting the needs of your developing baby, calcium is important to prevent a condition

called pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy condition characterised by high blood pressure.

It can be very dangerous for you or your baby.

Women with low calcium intakes of less than 600 milligrams per day have an increased risk

of developing pre-eclampsia, so it's another reason why you may need to double check your

calcium intake.

There's one more important reason too... research has found a relationship between low calcium levels

and increased frequency and intensity of muscle cramps during pregnancy.

Before I recommend the best type of calcium supplements to look for, I want to make it

clear to you that you are FAR better off meeting your calcium requirements through food if you can.

Calcium supplements can be contaminated with lead.

One report from the U.S. identified that of eight of 23 nationally available calcium carbonate

products contained small amounts of lead.

Now, we are talking about tiny amounts, but food is a safer option, especially during pregnancy.

More practically, the calcium from food is also absorbed more easily than the calcium

from supplements.

The best sources of dietary calcium are the small, edible bones found in fish such as sardines,

dairy products, like yoghurt, milk and cheese and seeds such as sesame seeds.

If you're not sure whether you're getting enough, I'd recommend that you keep a food

diary for a couple of days and add up your calcium intake, or make an appointment to

see a prenatal dietitian.

Now, if you do need a calcium supplement, follow these guidelines:

Firstly, make sure that you don't take more than 500 milligrams of calcium at one time as large

doses won't be absorbed. Secondly, don't take calcium supplements at the same

time as your pregnancy multivitamin as it can impact the absorption of other nutrients

such as iron. Thirdly, calcium citrate is the best type of calcium

supplement as it is more easily absorbed, but it is more expensive

Number 4, if you have calcium carbonate supplements, make sure that you take them with food.

Number 5, if you are relying on calcium-fortified beverages, like an almond milk or soy milk,

be careful because absorption of calcium from those types of drinks is generally less than the calcium

absorbed from milk.

If you have any further questions, feel free to post in the comments box below.

And, if you haven't yet downloaded my free pregnancy meal plan, you can do so by going


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