4 Tips for Getting Enough Calcium During Pregnancy
True or false: Pregnant women need more calcium and vitamin D than non-pregnant women.
The answer is false. Surprised? It’s true that some nutrient needs increase during pregnancy, but calcium and vitamin D are not among them. A pregnant woman over 19 years old, needs 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 600 International Units of vitamin D a day, which is the same as a woman this age who is not pregnant.
So, why is there so much focus on pregnant women getting enough calcium and vitamin D? Because people in the U.S., including pregnant women, fall short of meeting their daily needs for these nutrients. In fact, intake is so far below recommendations that it is considered a public health concern.
A glass of real milk is a good or excellent source of calcium and vitamin D. Other dairy foods like yogurt and cheese are another great way to get calcium. Pregnancy is an important time to make sure you are getting the servings of dairy that you need for yourself and your growing baby.
This is top of mind for Milk Means More staff members Cortney Freeland and Jessica Niven, both of whom are expecting in December. (There must be something in the milk around here!) This is Cortney’s first baby. Jessica’s baby will be joining siblings Cora, 3, and Jo, 9.
Both Cortney and Jessica focused on eating well and getting enough dairy before becoming pregnant, so their eating hasn’t changed drastically. Both are just more conscious of finding ways to eat the dairy foods that meet their needs, cravings and schedules.
Here are their tips for eating enough dairy while pregnant.
1. Make smoothies your friend.
Smoothies are a convenient breakfast or snack option. Use ingredients you have on hand, such as yogurt, milk, any combination of fruit and even vegetables, such as fresh spinach. Jessica also likes to add flax seed for the crunch, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. She makes smoothies in the morning with help from her kids, who are more likely to eat it when they’ve had a hand in making it.
2. Always have a snack nearby.
Having snacks on hand is key to preventing mid-morning or mid-day slumps in energy. One of Jessica’s go-to snacks is a cheese stick with a handful of nuts and dried fruit. She also likes to eat cottage cheese with fresh fruit and sunflower seeds. Cortney likes to snack on cheese and crackers. She also will sometimes drink a decaf latte on her drive home from work. If you have a little more prep time, try our Avocado Toast with Cottage Cheese and Tomato for a hearty snack.
3. Milk first.
If you are a coffee drinker, but trying to cut down on caffeine while pregnant, try Cortney’s trick: She adds milk first to her coffee cup—at least half full—then tops off with coffee, rather than the other way around. Cortney also likes to have chocolate milk as a snack in the afternoon. This is a great option when you need something sweet because it provides all the nutrition of white milk and helps keep you hydrated.
4. Go for grilled cheese.
Cortney had a craving for grilled cheese sandwiches her first trimester and, really, what could be tastier and easier when you’re tired and hungry? Try our favorites, including The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto Grilled Cheese.