GUEST BLOG POST: Surprising Sources of Calcium by Glade Curtis, MD and Judith Schuler, M.S., authors, Your Pregnancy after 35

Calcium is important in the diet of every woman, especially women in their 30s and 40s. During pregnancy, your needs increase because your developing baby requires calcium to build strong bones and teeth, and you need calcium to keep your bones healthy. The daily requirement for a non-pregnant woman is between 800 and 1000mg of calcium. During pregnancy, your needs increase to 1200mg or more a day. Discuss it with your healthcare provider.

Dairy products are excellent sources of calcium and vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption. It may be difficult for you to get enough calcium without eating dairy foods. Most prenatal vitamins contain only a small amount of the calcium you need. If your calcium intake is inadequate, your baby may draw needed calcium from your bones, which increases your risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.

If you are lactose intolerant and unable to drink milk, a condition that is more frequent among older women, you may be able to eat hard cheeses and yogurt. Lactose-reduced or lactose-free dairy products are also available. You may be able to use Lactaid, a preparation that helps your body deal more efficiently with lactic acid. Discuss the situation with your healthcare provider.

You may also choose nondairy sources of calcium; calcium is found in legumes, spinach, some fish, nuts and other foods. Some foods are now fortified with calcium. Read nutrition labels. This chart lists some common calcium-containing foods.

If you need to watch your calories and avoid unnecessary fats, choose your calcium sources wisely. Select low-fat products and those with reduced-fat content. Skim milk and low-fat, fat-free and part-skim cheeses are better choices than whole milk and regular cheese.

Some foods interfere with your body’s absorption of calcium. Be very careful about consuming salt, protein, tea, coffee and unleavened bread with a calcium-containing food.


Food            Serving Size           Amount of Calcium

Almonds  1⁄4 cup                          95 mg
Beans, dried, cooked 1 cup        90 mg
Bok choy 1⁄2 cup                           79 mg
Collards 1⁄2 cup                           179 mg
Milk, 2% 8 ounces                     300 mg
Orange juice,calcium-fortified 6 ounces 300 mg
Sardines 3 ounces                      324 mg
Spinach, cooked 1⁄2 cup             140 mg
Tofu processed with calcium sulfate 4 ounces 434 mg
Trout 4 ounces                          250 mg
Waffle 1 medium                      1 80 mg
Yogurt, fruit 8 ounces              345 mg
Yogurt, plain 8 ounces            400 mg

 Many women grow tired of drinking milk or eating cheese or yogurt to meet their calcium needs during pregnancy. Below are some suggestions for adding calcium to your diet.

•Make fruit shakes with milk and fresh fruit.

•Drink calcium-fortified orange juice.

•Add nonfat milk powder to recipes.

•Cook brown rice or oatmeal in low-fat or nonfat milk instead of water.

•Drink calcium-fortified skim milk.

•Make soups and sauces with undiluted evaporated nonfat milk instead of cream.

•Eat calcium-fortified breads.

If you and your healthcare provider decide calcium supplements are necessary, you will probably take calcium carbonate combined with magnesium, which aids calcium absorption. Avoid supplements derived from animal bones, dolomite or oyster shells because they may contain lead.


From Your Pregnancy after 35, 3rd edition by Glade Curtis, MD and Judith Schuler, M.S. (Da Capo Lifelong Books). Reprinted by permission.

More people turn to Glade Curtis, M.D. for information about pregnancy and childbirth than to any other doctor in the world. Board-certified by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, he has delivered thousands of babies—including three of his own. He has written eighteen books with Judith Schuler, who holds a master’s degree in consumer and family studies, including Your Pregnancy Week by Week, Your Baby’s First Year Week by Week, and Your Pregnancy for the Father-to-Be. Combined, their books have been translated into over twenty languages.

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