Nutrition · Pregnancy

How can I get enough calcium if I don’t drink milk?

Products containing calcium (milk, cheese, walnuts, sardines, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds) on a round cutting board and a blue wooden background
Many people ask me how they can get enough calcium during pregnancy.  Sometimes they are lactose intolerant, occasionally they have a milk allergy or often they just don’t like the taste of milk.  Some people also find that their ability to digest dairy products or their desire to eat dairy changes in pregnancy.

It might surprise you to know that the amount of calcium recommended for women does not actually increase in pregnancy.  Your body is able to absorb more calcium from food during pregnancy to meet you and your baby’s needs. It’s important to meet your needs for calcium because it helps to build strong bones and teeth, and helps to maintain normal blood pressure, healthy muscles, heart and nerves.

 Pregnant women over 19 years old need 1000 mg/day of calcium from food or supplements.

Broccoli, kale, almonds, sardines, tofu, couscous in bowls on chopping boardUsually I would suggest two or three servings a day of milk, cheese or yogurt to meet your calcium needs in pregnancy. However instead of milk or milk products, you can choose calcium fortified beverages such as soy milk, orange juice, almond milk, coconut or rice milk. These non-dairy choices often have the same amount of calcium as cow’s milk. Other foods that are good sources of calcium are tofu, beans, okra, bok choy, kale, broccoli, fish with bones, sesame seeds and almonds.

To increase your calcium intake, try some of the meals or snacks from this sample menu that is rich in non-dairy sources of calcium (the calcium sources are underlined).

Breakfast

350 mg

Cup filled with strawberry smoothie, plate with toast & egg

Fruit smoothie made with calcium fortified soy milk/orange juice/almond milk/rice milk

Whole grain bread with a fried egg

Morning snack

125 mg

Orange slices and almonds on chopping board Orange and almonds
Lunch

100 mg

Salad with navy beans, broccoli, and couscous

Salad with navy beans, broccoli, and couscous

Afternoon Snack

25 mg

Square bowl of dried figs Dried figs
Dinner

225 mg

Stir fry with bok choy, tofu, and brown rice

Stir fry with bok choy, tofu, and brown rice

Evening Snack

250 mg

water and prenatal vitamin on chopping board with hand towel

Water with prenatal vitamin 

Pita with hummus

Total Calcium 1075 mg

Originally posted by Lauren Tucker, RD

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