Calcium during pregnancy
The full development of the fetus is only possible with the high-quality nutrition of the mother. During pregnancy, the diet should be balanced and contain sufficient vitamins, micro and macro elements, and other useful substances. It is especially important to prevent calcium deficiency because this nutrient underlies the formation of the baby’s skeletal system and teeth and protects against malformations and intrauterine growth retardation. An effective way to protect against calcium deficiency is to add foods rich in this mineral to the menu or take calcium supplements during pregnancy.
Calcium for pregnant women: an important role in the body and functions
Calcium is involved in many processes in the body of a pregnant woman. Decreased calcium levels in the blood can cause osteoporosis and caries.
The importance of calcium for pregnant women:
- prevention of miscarriages and premature births;
- normalization of blood clotting and reduction in the risk of developing pathologies of the hemostasis system;
- maintaining muscle tone;
- regulation of neuromuscular conduction;
- strengthening the immune system;
- maintenance of skin beauty;
- maintaining normal blood pressure and protecting against preeclampsia;
- prevention of post-term pregnancy and weakness of labor activity;
- preservation of enamel and dentin of teeth;
- maintaining the contraction of the heart muscle and heart rhythm;
- maintaining uterine muscle contraction during childbirth.
Maintaining a normal level of this macronutrient in a pregnant woman’s body leads to an improvement in the woman’s general condition.
Note that calcium in the bloodstream is used to transmit nerve signals, release hormones (such as insulin), and regulate how muscles and blood vessels contract and expand. The body will use calcium from bones and teeth if a woman does not get enough calcium.
Let’s talk about the role of calcium in the development of the fetus. It is important to note that in addition to building the skeleton, the nutrient is involved in several other important processes:
- the formation of muscle tissue and tooth enamel of the fetus;
- ensuring the transmission of nerve impulses in the neurons of the brain;
- the formation of a healthy nervous system in the fetus;
- participation in metabolism;
- normalization of the level of blood clotting;
- maintaining the work of the heart muscle and exerting a beneficial effect on the heart rhythm;
- prevention of malformations in the fetus.
Calcium is also involved in regulating cell apoptosis – the process of cell renewal in the body, which protects against the uncontrolled growth of cells that provoke tumors, and malformations of organs and tissues. Adequate calcium levels regulate the process of natural cell death.
Pregnancy and calcium needs
The need for calcium during pregnancy increases since a significant part of the mineral reserves is spent on forming the fetus.
Expectant mothers should take at least 1000 mg of calcium per day in the first trimester and 1300 mg in the third trimester during the control tests. In the second trimester, you can take a short break. The dosage of calcium for a pregnant woman can be increased by a gynecologist if indicated.
Prophylactic calcium intake is mandatory in the presence of risk factors:
- the interval between the first and second pregnancy is less than two years;
- multiple pregnancies;
- maternal malnutrition;
- bowel disease that interferes with calcium absorption.
A specialist determines the period of calcium intake during pregnancy. Using the mineral from the beginning of pregnancy planning and before childbirth is not forbidden. But, as a rule, doctors adhere to the prescription regimen from the 20th week of pregnancy, and if there are risk factors, the intake should be started after pregnancy is established.
Complete Diet for Calcium Deficiency
Proper nutrition is the key to the pregnant woman’s well-being and the fetus’s healthy development. A balanced diet with the inclusion of foods high in calcium will help protect the body of the expectant mother and baby from deficiencies. The substances necessary for the baby enter the bloodstream from the mother’s bloodstream, so a woman needs to monitor the amount of calcium supplied with food carefully.
The largest amount of calcium is found in dairy products, cheeses, cottage cheese, shrimp, sardines, other fish types, and legumes. Plant foods contain many nutrients: cabbage, legumes, poppy seeds, sesame, basil, almonds, dried apricots, and celery.
For a clear example, we give examples of the calcium content in 100 g of different products:
- hard cheese – 700-1000 mg;
- cottage cheese 5-9% – 160-170 mg;
- milk and kefir – 120-130 mg;
- fish (depending on the species) – 20-120 mg;
- cabbage – 50-70 mg;
- beans – 150 mg.
In the daily set of products for pregnant women, which will make up for calcium deficiency, you need to include leafy greens, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. Be sure to include legumes, fish, and aged cheese in the diet (in the absence of lactose intolerance).
This set of products is enough to fill the daily need for a mineral.
For calcium from food to be better absorbed, it is necessary to combine it with foods rich in vitamin D: chicken eggs and fatty fish. Vitamin D stimulates calcium absorption in the intestine and increases calcium reabsorption (reabsorption) in the distal tubules of the kidneys.
Pregnant women’s recommended vitamin D dosage is 800-2000 IU per day. The exact dosage of vitamin D should be prescribed after laboratory diagnosis.
It is recommended to stop drinking coffee and carbonated drinks, as they interfere with the absorption of calcium and provoke the leaching of this mineral from the body.
Limiting their use in late pregnancy is especially important when the expectant mother’s need for vitamins and minerals increases.
Signs and symptoms of calcium deficiency
Not always a balanced diet helps to avoid calcium deficiency in pregnant women. There are several main signs of a nutrient deficiency:
- hair loss;
- fragility and fragility of nails;
- calf cramps at night;
- acne and dry skin;
- weakness and fatigue;
- problems with teeth and gums (for example, the development of caries);
- bone pain;
- the desire to eat chalk – such an addiction also indicates a calcium deficiency.
If such symptoms appear, you should contact a specialist and take a blood test to see the calcium levels (optimally – 1.03-1.23 mmol / l).
Calcium deficiency during pregnancy is dangerous and can lead to health problems for the expectant mother and baby:
- early toxicosis;
- fetal growth retardation (lack of calcium often causes rickets in a child).
Calcium for pregnant women: types and daily intake of the mineral
The need for calcium in pregnant and lactating women increases, so it is difficult to get the daily intake of nutrients from food alone. In addition to the normalization of nutrition, it may be necessary to take calcium supplements to replenish mineral reserves.
Nutritionists recommend that all pregnant and lactating women drink calcium-containing supplements to maintain normal calcium levels. Before taking any drug, you need to consult a specialist. It is not recommended to change the dosage or cancel the drug independently.
The daily calcium intake for pregnant women depends on the duration of pregnancy, the diet, and the expectant mother’s lifestyle.
The choice of additives is impressive. So what is the best calcium to take during pregnancy, and what is the daily allowance?
WHO recommends that pregnant women take 1000-1300 mg of calcium daily. During pregnancy, the need for all minerals and vitamins increases, so the maximum daily dose of calcium can reach 1500 mg.
Calcium is commercially available in three forms:
- calcium gluconate;
- calcium carbonate;
- calcium citrate.
Calcium gluconate is the most common form of calcium, but it is the least absorbed by the body. This form of the nutrient is not recommended for pregnant women.
Calcium carbonate is absorbed several times better, often produced in complexes with vitamin D, a nutrient cofactor that improves its absorption.
Calcium carbonate intake is contraindicated in kidney disease.
A suitable drug for pregnant women is calcium citrate. This is a modern form of vitamin preparation that is well absorbed, does not give a side effect, and is suitable for people with low stomach acidity.
When choosing a form of calcium, it is necessary to consider the drug’s characteristics, the presence of chronic diseases, or pregnancy complications. The intake of any vitamin supplement should be discussed with the doctor leading the pregnancy.
It is not recommended to take calcium as part of vitamin-mineral complexes. In vitamin complexes, the percentage of mineral content is very low and does not fill the daily need for the mineral.
You can not take a vitamin complex, which contains calcium and iron. Calcium prevents iron absorption, which is found in all vitamin and mineral complexes.
The intake of such vitamin-mineral complexes leads to the fact that the body does not absorb the iron it needs and does not replenish the body’s needs for calcium.
Nutritionists recommend drinking calcium separately from other micronutrients.
The best way to compensate for the lack of micronutrients during pregnancy and breastfeeding is to combine a calcium-free vitamin-mineral complex with a calcium-containing preparation. Between doses of supplements, it is recommended to take a break (the interval between doses should be at least 2 hours).
For the pregnancy to go smoothly and safely and for the baby to be born healthy, you should eat a balanced diet, walk more in the fresh air and drink vitamins, depending on the diagnosed deficiencies.
An adequate calcium level in a future mother’s body will help her endure and give birth to a baby with strong bones and muscles and a healthy nervous system.
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