It is important for pregnant women to consume enough calcium each day to help their baby build strong bones and teeth, and grow a healthy heart and muscles.
How you store, prepare and cook your food also becomes especially important in pregnancy because of the risks to your unborn child.
Watch this video (3:03) by Calgary Foothills PCN health professionals to learn more.
Getting enough Calcium:
Unfortunately a lot of women do not get enough calcium in their normal diet. If this doesn’t change in pregnancy, it can pose a risk for both the mother and her unborn baby.
There can be a risk of high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia if calcium intake is too low.
1. How much calcium do you need?
We recommend pregnant women aged over 18 have 1000 milligrams of calcium a day before, during and after pregnancy.
Women 18 and under should consume about 1300 milligrams.
2. What does that amount look like in terms of food choices?
We recommend you drink 500 ml (2 cups) of milk or fortified soy beverage each day (that contains about 300 milligrams of calcium per glass).
We also suggest you consume two servings of other foods that are high in calcium such as:
- 3/4 cup of fruit yogurt (330 milligrams)
- 1.5 ounces of cheddar cheese (330 milligrams),
- 75 grams of canned salmon with bones (180 milligrams)
- 150 grams of tofu made with calcium (180 milligrams).
3. Calcium supplements and Vitamin D for absorption:
It is also important to consume enough Vitamin D — found in milk, fatty fish such as salmon, and egg — so your body can absorb the calcium you consume.
We also recommend you take a Vitamin D supplement of 2000 IU per day to help meet your body’s daily needs for Vitamin D.
Pre-natal multivitamins also typically contain some Vitamin D, a minimum of 400 IU per day is good.
Calcium supplements, typically 1000 milligrams orally per day, are recommended for women with a low dietary intake of calcium of less than 600 milligrams a day.
How you store, prepare and cook your food is especially important in pregnancy because your baby relies on you for everything. Food poisoning can cause miscarriage, premature delivery or serious infection.
What foods should you avoid?
- Raw or under-cooked meat, including hot dogs straight from the package without further heating,
- Raw seafood such as sushi, oysters, clams, smoked seafood
- Fish that is high in mercury such as shark
- Raw or lightly cooked egg
- Raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, mung beans, radish
- Pates and meat spreads
- Unpasteurized fruit juice and cider
- Unpasteurized cheese: Usually Canadian cheese is pasteurized, but always check the label. If there is no label and you can’t be sure, don’t eat the cheese.
We hope these guidelines help you have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Calgary Foothills PCN health professionals — a dietitian, a family doctor and a registered nurse from our maternity clinic — have also compiled other pregnancy and nutrition videos to help you eat well and stay healthy during pregnancy.
See these topics:
- 6 tips for eating a healthy lunch and dinner in pregnancy: video and blog
- 5 tips to a healthy pregnancy weight, and food cravings: video and blog
- 6 tips to increase your iron intake in pregnancy: video and blog
- Tips on how much to eat in each trimester of your pregnancy: video and blog
The Riley Park Maternity Clinic offers care to low-risk patients based in Calgary and Cochrane during pregnancy. The family doctors at the clinic specialize in obstetrics. Patients deliver at the Foothills Medical Centre. Find out more.
To see more pregnancy and birth-related resources, search “pregnancy” in the Resources section on our website.