Calcium: One of five essential nutrients during pregnancy

Written by Dr. Andri Philippou RD

29 May 2021


The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for calcium during pregnancy = 1000 – 1300 mg/ day, although 1500 – 2000 mg/day has been associated with a 64% risk reduction in pre-eclampsia.

The requirements for calcium during pregnancy are not much higher than in non-pregnant women (1000 – 1200 mg), although most woman do not consume adequate calcium in their diets to start.

During pregnancy, a woman’s bone calcium stores are mobilized, and gut absorption of calcium also doubles to ensure adequate supply for the fetus but this may deplete the mother through the pregnancy – most of the depletion occurs in the 2nd half of the pregnancy.

You can achieve 1500mg of calcium/day by including a selection of the following in your diet:

  • 1 cup low fat yoghurt (345 mg)
  • 1 cup cooked spinach (291 mg)
  • ½ cup low fat milk (143 mg)
  • 1 cup low fat cottage cheese (155 mg)
  • 30g cheddar cheese (204 mg)
  • 1 orange (52 mg)
  • Note that Rennies antacids contain 600mg calcium carbonate providing roughly 200mg of calcium

Interesting fact: Non-dairy milks are usually fortified with calcium, however in South Africa these milks are generally fortified with calcium triphosphate which has a low solubility and studies have shown much of this calcium triphosphate to precipitate to the bottom of the carton (59% is consumed when carton is shaken and only 33% is consumed when carton is used unshaken).