Being pregnant is perhaps the most beautiful and ethereal experience for a woman, no matter how far she is along. The mere thought of carrying another life inside you is so much overwhelming that sometimes you completely forget that being pregnant might take a toll on your health. This is why doctors always suggest to prioritize one’s health because only then the fetus will be healthy. And to do so, you need all the essential nutrients that affect the pregnancy a lot. Calcium is one mineral that everyone needs, pregnant or non-pregnant.
Out of several mineral nutrient that is required by the body, calcium is one of the crucial one. It doesn’t matter whether you are consuming dietary calcium or the non-dairy one, the mineral will help your body to strengthen the bones. Besides, the fetus will also need constant calcium supply through placenta for bone formation.
As one needs to consume this mineral from outside sources, here we have come with a well-researched diet plan consisting the top calcium rich foods for pregnancy.
Why Calcium Is Essential During Pregnancy?
If you think calcium is needed only for the mother’s body, it’s not true at all. NCBI has stated in one of their research papers that on an average, about 50mg of dietary calcium is transferred to the fetal body through the mother’s placenta. This ionized calcium transfer usually starts from the 20th week of the entire pregnancy duration, and it only increases over time. By the 35th week, the transfer increases to an estimated amount of 330mg every day.
In the mother’s body, two major hormones- the calcitonin and parathyroid- need to be within proper levels throughout the gestation period. These two hormones are responsible for maintaining the process of calcium homeostasis. Hence, your body will also need calcium. Failure to do otherwise will lead to severe calcium deficiency complications like enlarged amniotic sac, renal problems including untimely discharges, increased amount of body fluids, and so on.
From these studies, it’s clear that everyone should start considering the calcium rich foods for pregnancy. After all, calcium plays several important roles other than being just the building blocks of bones in the mother’s body and the fetus.
Top 10 Calcium-Rich Foods For Pregnancy
Calcium is not only present in the dairy foods like milk or cottage cheese but also in other ingredients also like sea foods, meat, and others. In the following section, we have listed down the most common and safe calcium rich foods for pregnancy that you can take.
1. Yoghurt – a delicious source of calcium during pregnancy
If you are worried about yogurt being a dairy product, there is nothing to fret over. Yogurt is mainly formed after fermentation of the milk protein, and hence, the dairy lactose is converted into a digestible form, called the lactic acid. Hence, even if you are lactose intolerant, taking yogurt will not harm your gut. Based on the various types of yogurt, we have given here the approx. calcium content1.
Yogurt is considered to be one of the biggest calcium rich foods during pregnancy as it contains a huge amount of the mineral. You can take yogurt in various ways like adding them into smoothies and shakes or having a dessert made from the ingredient. You can even replace milk for the breakfast cereal with Greek or low fat yogurt.
2. Sardines during pregnancy
Seafoods are usually rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These monosaturated fatty acid molecules help in the proper development of the fetal brain and nerves. However, some seafoods are also popular for calcium content, Sardines being one of them. If you want to include the non dairy calcium rich foods for pregnancy in your diet, you can start with the canned sardines2.
Canned sardines have the spine part which is the main storehouse of the mineral. Hence, there will be no wastage of the essential nutrient as these sardines can be consumed easily with no hassle of cooking thoroughly.
3. Have tofu during pregnancy for boosting calcium intake
Tofu is considered to be one of the most suited vegan calcium rich foods, pregnant or not. For those who refuse to take cottage cheese, tofu indeed is a great alternative. Also, this particular non-dairy ingredient is a great source of protein needed for body building and potassium for regulating the blood pressure. Based on the type of tofu, here is a brief calcium content approximation3.
Several ways are there to eat tofu and enjoy its silky nature. For example, any Japanese or Chinese inspired dish will have tofu as a major ingredient in soups. Also, you can have tofu in the form of salads- the perfect calcium rich snack for pregnant lady. Tofu during pregnancy is a perfect way to boost your calcium intake during pregnancy.
4. Indulge in cheddar cheese during pregnancy
We have often seen cheese acting as a life savior for many pregnant women, especially those who can’t stand most foods due to change of palette. Out of all the cheese varieties, it is the cheddar which will help you the most- both in changing your taste for the better and supplying your body with loads of calcium ion4.
Related Reading: 9 Types Of Cheeses To Avoid During Pregnancy
One of the most versatile calcium rich foods for pregnancy is the cheddar. You can take this ingredient in so many different ways like making a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast or using as a topping mixed with parmesan and mozzarella for pizza. Mac and cheese, spaghetti, and lasagna are the three main dishes where cheddar acts as a main ingredient.
5. Kale during pregnancy
You will often find your nutritionist suggesting you to include green vegetables in your diet. Well, the main reason is to ensure that your body can receive a variety of nutrients from the greens, especially calcium. Kale is a very good source of non-dairy calcium mineral that you can surely include in your special pregnancy diet5 & 6.
Kale is one of the powerhouse calcium rich foods for pregnancy. Raw kale can be added to salads like Caeser salad or Greek salad for better taste. You can even pair it with sandwich or burgers along with spinach. Boiled kale should only be taken when you can’t stand the rawness of the green leaves.
6. Almonds – a calcium powerhouse during pregnancy
Amongst all the nuts essential for a pregnant woman, it is the almonds which consist tons of calcium. Also, since almonds are considered to be a blessing for the fetal brain development, you must consume it daily without fail.
Since almonds can be included almost in any food, it is considered to be one of the best calcium rich foods for pregnancy. You can have almond milk which is another great substitute for the dairy milk. Also, almonds can be eaten whole as a snack bite or can be included in desserts and smoothies.
7. Milk during pregnancy
Milk is the biggest source of calcium, and hence, you should drink at least one glass every day. However, you need to ensure that you don’t have colitis or any kind of gut allergy with milk. Per 100gm of skimmed, whole and semi-skimmed milk contains 120, 116, and 116 mg of calcium7. And yes, there are solid reasons why milk during pregnancy is recommended largely by our elders and doctors alike.
Milk is the most versatile food ingredient that can be consumed standalone or in combination with other ingredients.
8. Figs in your pregnancy diet
Figs are the best fruits rich in calcium for pregnancy. However, while being pregnant, you cannot take raw figs as they can be harmful for the fetus. The best way to have figs in your diet is by having the dried figs.
Related Reading: 21 Pregnancy Superfoods To Include In Your Pregnancy Diet
9. Sesame seeds during pregnancy
From the various types of seeds that can be consumed during pregnancy, it is the sesame seeds which contain the highest calcium content.
Sesame seeds being the best seeded calcium rich foods for pregnancy can be included in various food items. For example, it can be used as a topping in your pies, burgers, or any other baked preparation. You can also try out the tahini paste which is made from the whole grain seeds in your recipe.
10. Dates are an excellent source of calcium
The last name from the list of calcium rich foods for pregnancy that we will discuss is the dates. It’s mainly grown in the Middle-east as dates are native to the Arabian lands. Not only dates are high in calcium but also they serve as a potential source of iron, potassium, Vitamin A, and other essential nutrients8.
Be it in the smoothies or in a beautifully made pecan pie, you can include dates in both sweet and savory recipes.
When Should You Start Taking Calcium During Pregnancy?
As the calcium ion transfer usually starts from about the 20th week of pregnancy, you need to upscale your daily intake of the mineral a few days prior. Usually, a woman needs to start having the best calcium rich foods for pregnancy around the 19th to the 20th week.
But, since iron is also needed by your body from almost around the same time, you should consult with your gynecologist. The intake time and quantity must be administered by a professional because both these minerals, if taken at the same time, might cause adverse reactions in your body.
Even when you are prescribed with prenatal supplements containing calcium, you cannot ignore the calcium rich foods for pregnancy. These are the natural sources of the concerned minerals and hence, they will be absorbed by your body faster. As all the ten foods we have mentioned here are safe for a pregnant woman, you can easily include them in your diet.