By Rita Singha
Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the human body also has many crucial functions. It plays an important role in strengthening bones and teeth, proper development of bones, functioning of enzymes, regulating the muscle contraction and relaxation, regulating heart function, blood clotting, signal transmission in nerves and much more.
Dietary intake of calcium is vital
Calcium deficiency causes disruptions in many processes. Whenever the body notices that there isn’t enough calcium circulating in the blood, it automatically uses hormones to reduce the calcium put out by kidneys via urine. If the gastrointestinal tract also is unable to absorb enough calcium, then it is finally taken from the bones. The body is in a constant process of breaking down and building up bone tissues. Therefore it is all the more important to maintain healthy bones. This can be done by maintaining a balanced diet and regular weight bearing exercise which helps the body maintain the right levels of hormones.
So, if your dietary intake of calcium is somehow always on the lower side, the body gets into a mode that removes so much calcium from the skeleton that your bones eventually become weak and very brittle. That’s why you need to change your eating pattern during Pregnancy.
Importance of calcium during pregnancy
During pregnancy this demand for calcium further increases. It is now also needed for building strong bones and teeth for your baby. Not only that, it is also necessary for a healthy heart, nerves, muscles, blood clotting as well as to break down fat.
It is known that more than 98% of the calcium in the body is found in the skeleton. A calcium rich diet becomes all the more crucial during pregnancy for the development of your infant’s bones as well as to maintain your own bones.
Pregnancy demands that your calcium intake rise from 800mg a day to 1100mg a day. That’s a good 300mg extra per day. This is equivalent to 1 extra serving of calcium rich food.
Pregnant women need to eat around 4 servings of calcium rich food everyday to meet their calcium needs – especially during the last 3 months of pregnancy.
Baby will draw calcium from your bones!
Your baby requires calcium for development, well, if you don’t get enough calcium from your daily diet, your baby will satisfy its calcium requirements from your bones through the placenta. This impairs your health and increases the risk of developing osteoporosis at a later stage in life. Osteoporosis is the loss of bones that results in fragile bones and increased risk of fracture.
Hypertensive disorders during pregnancy
Proper intake of calcium can reduce the risk of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy. A considerable number of maternal deaths and a significant number of premature births as well as major causes of infant mortality is associated with hypertensive disorders during pregnancy.
Calcium supplements during pregnancy greatly reduce the risk of developing blood pressure. Studies show a good 45% reduction in blood pressure. Calcium is recommended for prevention of preeclampsia in pregnancy, particularly those at higher risk of developing hypertension.
It’s good to know that…
Fortunately, pregnancy protects most women’s calcium reserves by helping pregnant women absorb calcium from food and supplements better. Also during pregnancy, women produce more estrogen, hormone that protects bones. Any bone mass lost during pregnancy is typically restored within several months after delivery.
The right amount of calcium can go a long way to provide abundance of health to you and your loved one. Nature provides its resources through a variety of foods and supplements to compliment our requirements. The key to our optimum good health and our child’s is in our hands.
Rita Singha is the founder of Rita’s Pregnancy 101 – Pregnancy & Childbirth Classes in Ahmedabad, Surat & Chandigarh, Childbirth Educator and a hypnobirthing consultant. She has dedicated her life to educate people, especially women about the importance and greatness of pregnancy and motherhood. She loves to share tips and pointers to ease the process of pregnancy and help women with a happy and healthy pregnancy. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.