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Eating Right When Pregnant

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Why Do I Need More Calcium When Pregnant? continued...

The following guidelines will help ensure that you are consuming enough calcium throughout your pregnancy:

  • The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) for calcium is 1000 mg per day for pregnant and breastfeeding women over age 18. The USRDA for teenage girls up to age 18 is 1300 mg of calcium per day.
  • Eating and drinking at least four servings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting the appropriate amount of calcium in your daily diet.
  • The best sources of calcium are dairy products, including milk, cheese, yogurt, cream soups, and pudding. Calcium is also found in foods including green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, and greens), seafood, dried peas, and beans.
  • Vitamin D will help your body use calcium. Adequate amounts of vitamin D can be obtained through exposure to the sun and in fortified milk, eggs, and fish.

How Can I Get Enough Calcium If I'm Lactose Intolerant?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. If you are lactose intolerant, you may have cramping, gas, or diarrhea when dairy products are consumed.

If you are lactose intolerant, you can still receive the calcium you need. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use Lactaid Milk fortified with calcium. Talk to your dietitian about other lactose-reduced products.
  • You may be able to tolerate certain milk products that contain less sugar including cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese.
  • Eat non-dairy calcium sources, including greens, broccoli, sardines, and tofu.
  • Try consuming small amounts of milk with meals. Milk is better tolerated with food.

Should I Take a Calcium Supplement During Pregnancy?

If you have trouble consuming enough calcium-rich foods in your daily meal plan, talk to your doctor or dietitian about taking a calcium supplement. The amount of calcium you will need from a supplement depends on how much calcium you are consuming through food sources.

Calcium supplements and some antacids containing calcium, such as Tums, may complement an already healthy diet. Many multiple vitamin supplements contain little or no calcium; therefore, you will need an additional calcium supplement.

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