If you asked one hundred pregnant women to name five essential nutrients for pregnancy you can bet that 99 percent of them would name calcium as one of their answers.
Everyone knows that calcium is vital for growing strong bones and teeth, but in pregnancy, it becomes even more essential. If your diet is deficient of calcium and your growing baby cannot source it from the nutrition you provide; he/she will take it from your bones.
Over time this will weaken your bone structure and lead to osteoporosis (brittle bone disease), which makes your bones very fragile and extremely susceptible to breakages. This in turn can shorten life-expectancy and dramatically affect your quality of life.
Calcium deficiency in pregnancy is also linked to pre-eclampsia and severe gestational hypertension.
Government guidelines advocate 1000 mg/day and suggest that a large proportion of that should come from milk as it is the richest source of calcium. Whilst this is true, milk is very rich in calcium, what they are NOT telling you is that the calcium in pasteurized and homogenized milk is extremely difficult to absorb.
Calcium can only be absorbed when there is enough vitamin D and magnesium present and when phosphorus levels are very low. Treated milk does not contain enough magnesium and has too much phosphorus and so the calcium is not absorbed very well by our bodies.
Doesn’t most of our calcium come from milk?
Well, you’ll be surprised to discover that a study by the Food Standards Agency found that only 43 percent of the calcium in the national diet comes from milk.
In fact 70 percent of the world’s population derive most of their calcium from sources other than milk
Calcium is more readily absorbed from:
- almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts
- broccoli, curly kale, okra, spinach, watercress
- dried apricot and figs
- mackerel, oysters, pilchards, salmon, sardines
- pulses, sesame seeds
What do you think?
What are your thoughts on milk as a source of calcium in pregnancy? Does it form a large part of your diet?
Would you consider eliminating it if all evidence showed that it was NOT beneficial to your pregnancy?