Do You Need Extra Calcium During Pregnancy?

Photo Credit: Alessandro Paiva

Calcium is a Vital Nutrient

Calcium is a vital nutrient in pregnancy. It strengthens your bones and teeth, and in the second and third trimester, your baby relies on your calcium supply for ossification – the process of transforming the cartilage in his body into bone. The March of Times recommends that all women from 19 to 50, regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not, to get 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day. The National Academy of Sciences recommends that pregnant women consume 1,300 milligrams every day. But some physicians recommend that you increase your calcium even more, and you may need to take calcium supplements on top of your prenatal vitamin. But do you need extra calcium during pregnancy?

Pregnancy Diet

According to Researchers at Khon Kaen University

According to researchers at Khon Kaen University in Thailand, extra calcium supplementation isn’t necessary during pregnancy, unless the patient is at risk for high blood pressure or preeclampsia. Their study, published in a 2011 issue of The Cochrane Library, found that extra calcium does not prevent preterm birth or low infant birth weight, and it doesn’t improve the bone density of pregnant women. The only benefit of taking extra calcium during pregnancy is that it helps prevent preeclampsia/eclampsia – which is a serious complication characterized by high blood pressure. This team of researchers do not recommend regular intake of extra calcium supplements during pregnancy.

A World Health Organization Study

In another study, published in 2010 in the World Health Organization’s Who Reproductive Health Library, researchers took data from 11 clinical trails with over 15,000 pregnant women. They found that women who had taken extra calcium during pregnancy (over one gram per day) were less likely to experience high blood pressure, compared to women who had taken a placebo. Moreover, women who were given extra calcium during pregnancy were 50 percent less likely to get preeclampsia. This reduction was most dramatic in women who were already at risk for this pregnancy complication.

This World Health Organization study also found no significant difference for women receiving extra calcium during pregnancy when it came to preventing other complications, such as placenta abruption, preterm birth, low birth weight, cesarean section, and other serious factors.

Extra Calcium Taken if Suggested by Doctor

These two major studies don’t recommend that you take extra calcium during pregnancy (unless your specific healthcare provider suggests it), but fortunately, there are no obvious side effects of taking extra calcium supplements.

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