Does Calcium Increase Risks in Pregnancy and Birth?
Calcium is vital. Calcium helps create strong bones and teeth, helps muscles contract, helps blood to clot normally, and helps to maintain normal heart rhythms and nerve function. Calcium doesn’t do this alone, though, and getting a balanced mineral intake is very important including magnesium, potassium, sodium, chloride, and many others.
We currently understand that women need 1000-2000 mg of calcium per day in pregnancy. On average, adults consume around 800 mg per day on a standard diet without adding supplements. Calcium can cause iron-deficiency anemia when high calcium foods or supplements are eaten with iron-rich foods. So it is important to pay attention to your food and supplement choices.
SOME FOOD SOURCES OF CALCIUM
- 3 oz Sardines – 550 mg
- 1 TUMS Tablet – 1000 mg
- 1 Cup (8 oz) Almond Milk – 480 mg
- 1 Cup (8oz) Cow’s Milk – 300 mg
- 1 oz. Cheese – 200 mg
- ½ C Plain Whole Milk Greek Yogurt – 125 mg
- 1 Cup Cooked Spinach – 120 mg
- 1 Cup Rhubarb – 100 mg
- 1 Orange – 60 mg
- 1/3 Cup Dry Oats – 60 mg
- 1 Cup (8 oz) Hard/Calcium Water – 50 mg
- 1 Cup Cooked Beans – 50 mg
- 1 Cup Raw Kale – 50 mg
- 1 Cup Blackberries – 40 mg
- 1 Slice Bread – 30 mg (or more)
- ½ Cup Cashews – 25 mg
I bet you can do a quick look at your day to see that you’re probably getting a good amount of calcium in your diet. However, what many don’t realize is that you can’t absorb or use the calcium you eat, if you do not have enough Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 levels. In other words, adequate sunshine and a balanced gut. Many people, especially women, have very low levels of Vitamin D3 and K2, especially here in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
You need to be outside with your face, arms, and legs uncovered, for half the time it would take for your skin to burn, to make enough Vitamin D. You also need a balanced digestive system with balanced bacteria to make enough Vitamin K for nutrient absorption. If either of these aren’t happening, you’re deficient in Vitamin D3 and K2 and supplementing with these vitamins and adding in pre- and pro-biotics is just as important as supplementing with calcium. If you do need a calcium supplement, herbal calcium or whole-foods supplemental calcium are the most ideal forms of supplementation. Alternatively, you could choose Liposomal Calcium or Calcium Citrate as a supplemental form if the other options aren’t available. Whatever you choose, be sure you’re only supplementing what you need in total as too much calcium can be detrimental to conception, pregnancy, and birth.
High levels of calcium cause fatigue, nausea, constipation, and increase the possibility of miscarriage by 5-10 times the typical amount. After conception, high levels of calcium can cause complications with placenta growth including how it attaches and can cause calcifications on the placenta that block blood flow to the baby, which means the baby receives less oxygen and nutrients than they need. This can increase the likelihood of pre-term labor and complications at birth.
If a pregnancy reaches full term, high levels of calcium can cause what many refer to as an “old placenta.” This doesn’t happen just because a pregnancy goes beyond 40 weeks. “Old placentas” should really be called “malnourished placentas.” These calcium deposits are due to poor nutritional intake and nutrient imbalances. They can also be caused from high levels of either food or supplemental calcium intake. Women with a well-balanced diet and excellent nutrient intake don’t get “old” or malnourished placentas.
Calcium deposits can also cause the placenta to abrupt (detach too early), or partially detach after birth, making it difficult for the uterus to contract well to reduce blood flow; which obviously increases hemorrhage. So, calcium (like many other nutrients) needs to be balanced to create physiology and prevent complications in pregnancy and birth.
Is your calcium intake balanced?