Calcium and Magnesium During Pregnancy

Calcium and magnesium are extremely important for pregnant and lactating women, as I’m sure you are aware. What you may not know, however, is that taking adequate amounts of calcium and magnesium during pregnancy can actually decrease your risk of osteoporosis later in life. It can also optimize blood pressure levels during pregnancy and increase your pain tolerance threshold, making for a more comfortable delivery.

Let’s discuss the benefits of calcium during pregnancy, the part magnesium plays in the body’s ability to properly use calcium and what foods are high in calcium.

Benefits of Calcium During Pregnancy for Optimal Health

Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for optimum health during pregnancy. A pregnant or lactating woman needs between 1,600–2,000mg of calcium each day, but research has shown most American women only consume about 600mg each day from their diets, due to improper food choices. Calcium has benefits to optimize health during pregnancy for both mother and baby.

In the mother, calcium helps keep blood pressure in check and decreases her risk of preeclampsia, a condition of late pregnancy. Calcium also helps a mother regulate her sleep patterns, thus minimizing or eliminating leg cramps that plague many pregnant women. This is one reason why it can be good to take your calcium and magnesium supplement at night before bed.

For the baby, optimal health is achieved when 200–300mg of calcium is deposited each day into the baby’s skeleton during the last trimester. A similar amount of calcium is delivered via breast milk after birth. Optimal levels of calcium intake by the mother also help the infant regulate his blood pressure levels once he is born.

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The long-term benefits of optimizing your calcium levels during pregnancy are tremendous. The pregnant body is able to deposit over twice the amount of calcium into the bones as a non-pregnant body. This is God’s way of optimizing your body for the baby’s extra demands during the last trimester and breastfeeding. Pregnant women should take advantage of this natural tendency of the pregnant body to absorb more calcium in order to avoid osteoporosis later in life and for optimal health during and after the pregnancy.

Magnesium’s Role in Optimizing Calcium Absorption

Magnesium and calcium go hand-in-hand. In optimal amounts, magnesium and calcium help the absorption and utilization of the other. Magnesium deficiency during pregnancy has been linked to premature labor, increased risks for cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions.

Calcium and Magnesium Rich Foods for Optimumal Health

Dairy is high in calcium, especially low-fat milk or fortified soy, but cheese and ice cream are also dairy options. Other natural sources of calcium are sesame seeds, tuna, blackstrap molasses, kale, mustard greens, refried beans, eggs (a nearly complete food source), cheese, spinach and whole grains.

Foods high in magnesium include dark green, leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts and peas. To optimize your health, eat these foods together with a glass of orange juice. Vitamin C optimizes the body’s ability to use other nutrients, such as iron and folic acid, in addition to calcium. Consider switching to calcium fortified orange juice.

Supplements with both calcium and magnesium are another good way to ensure optimal health during pregnancy. Avoid oyster shell or bone meal calcium supplements because of their potential for lead poisoning if you consume too much. Also avoid “one-a-day” vitamins, because certain vitamins and minerals work best together and shouldn’t be taken with others. Find a two-part supplement system so the calcium and magnesium complex is separate for optimal health benefits.

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For more articles on optimum health and nutrition during pregnancy, as well as high calcium recipes, check out the resource section below.