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Calcium: Why it matters during pregnancy ?

Calcium: Why it matters during pregnancy ?

Your developing baby needs calcium to grow strong bones and teeth, a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles, and to develop normal heart rhythm and blood clotting abilities. If you don't get enough calcium in your diet, your baby will leach it from your bones, which may impair your own health later on.

How much do I need?
Until recently, experts advised pregnant women to get 1,200 mg of calcium daily. But new research finds that 1,000 mg is all you really need during pregnancy because your body can't absorb much more than that amount. You should still aim for four servings of dairy or other calcium-rich foods a day (see our list of suggestions below).

FYI Even after your baby's born and you're finished nursing, keep paying attention to your calcium intake — you need the mineral to help ward off osteoporosis (bone loss) later in life.

What are the best food sources of calcium?

Milk, especially skim, and other dairy products are top sources, as are calcium-fortified foods and canned fish.

* 1 cup low-fat yogurt: 414 mg
* 8 oz. skim milk: 302 mg
* 2 cups cottage cheese: 300 mg
* 8 oz. calcium-fortified orange juice: 300 mg
* 2 slices calcium-fortified bread: 300 mg
* 3 oz. sardines: 300 mg
* 3 oz. canned salmon: 211 mg
* 1 oz. cheddar cheese: 202 mg
* 3 corn tortillas: 150 mg
* 1/2 cup boiled turnip greens: 98 mg

Should I take a supplement?

A good multivitamin or prenatal vitamin should include at least 150 to 200 mg of calcium. You can also try a calcium supplement. Look on the label for calcium carbonate, the type most easily absorbed by the body. Or do this test: Place the supplement in a glass of vinegar and time how quickly it dissolves. If 10 minutes pass and it hasn't dissolved, try another brand.

Look for tablets that say they are lead-free; recent studies have found that some "natural" calcium supplements may contain a small amount of lead, which can be harmful to your growing baby.

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