Don’t Skimp On The Calcium During Pregnancy!
Calcium is crucial for good pregnancy nutrition.
Developing babies need calcium to grow strong and healthy bones, teeth, a healthy heart and muscles. And it contributes to a normal heart rhythm and blood clotting function. As a general rule, babies just help themselves to what they need – so that if you don’t have enough calcium in your pregnancy diet your baby will draw it from your bones which can cause problems for you in later life.
You need around 1000-1200 milligrams a day before, during and after pregnancy.
Dairy products such as cheese, milk, yogurt and fromage frais are the obvious choice to include in your diet during pregnancy but if you are lactose intolerant or have an allergy to milk, calcium can be found in other foods too:
Green leafy vegetables such as curly kale and watercress are good sources but you’ll find calcium in broccoli, cabbage, leeks and celery too.
Small fish (such as whitebait or tinned sardines and pilchards) where you eat the bones. Mash up canned salmon including the bones and use to make calcium-rich fish cakes.
Tofu is an excellent source of calcium – try adding it to a vegetable stir-fry and include finely shredded pak choi – another good calcium-packed veggie option.
Beans- especially red kidney beans and soya beans.
Nuts and seeds – a tablespoon of sesame seeds contains 88mg of calcium – use them in a salad, sprinkle over vegetables or cereal. Almond are a useful source of calcium too – and a handy snack!
Soy milk isn’t actually milk so it’s a good alternative to dairy products and contains around 300mg of calcium in a cup.
To give you some ideas of the quantities of calcium you’ll find in different foods:
6 oz low-fat yogurt: 350 mg
1 cup of milk: 300 mg
cup of cottage cheese: 120 mg
1 oz of hard cheese such as cheddar: 240 mg
8 canned sardines: 370 mg
cup of tofu: 258mg
And don’t forget – Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium so you’ll need both! If you think you may not be getting enough calcium ask your doctor or midwife if they would recommend a supplement.
Bacon, leek and potato soup
A good old-fashioned favourite, perfect for a warming lunch. Leeks are a good source of non-dairy calcium and contain generous amounts of Vitamin B6 which is reputed to help alleviate morning sickness – what’s more their mild, sweet flavour makes them especially appealing if you’re suffering from pregnancy nausea.
1 tbsp olive oil.
I small onion, chopped.
1-2 oz bacon chopped.
2 medium or one large leek, chopped.
2 medium potatoes, diced.
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock.
1 cup of milk.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion, bacon and leeks and cook until the onion is translucent and the bacon is cooked but not browned.
Add the potatoes and cook for a few minutes longer.
Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are beginning to collapse to thicken the soup. Add the milk and salt and pepper to taste and simmer until hot all the way through.
This soup is nicer left chunky but mash slightly to achieve your preferred consistency.
To serve, pour the soup into a bowl and garnish with the parsley and maybe a swirl of crme fraiche. For a vegetarian option simply leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock instead of chicken.