Calcium for Reducing Preeclampsia RiskFeb 05, 2022
What is preeclampsia?
What’s the mechanism behind calcium and preeclampsia?
How much calcium should I be getting and from where?
A high dietary intake of calcium has been associated with a decrease in blood pressure as well as a decreased risk of developing hypertension and preeclampsia (6). During pregnancy, calcium is in high demand. Around 30 grams of calcium is transferred to the foetus during gestation (2).
However, due to an increase in intestinal absorption of calcium, bone turnover and hormonal control over calcium homeostasis during pregnancy, the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of calcium during pregnancy is the same to a nonpregnant woman (2).
The Australian RDI for calcium for women (pregnant or not) aged between 19 and 50 years is 1000mg daily (7).
Some great food sources of calcium include:
- Hard cheeses – 28g of parmesan cheese contains 331mg calcium
- Milk – 1 cup of regular milk contains 304mg calcium
- Sardines – 105g tin of sardines contains 270mg calcium
- Salmon – 105g tin of salmon contains 198mg calcium
- Silverbeet – 1 cup of steamed silverbeet contains 174mg calcium
- Yoghurt – 100g of Greek yoghurt contains 130mg of calcium
- Poppy seeds – 1 tablespoon contains 126mg calcium
- Chickpeas – 1 cup of canned chickpeas contains 90mg calcium
- Almonds – 10 almonds contains 30mg calcium
Calcium supplements – how much and in what form?
The WHO recommends that the daily dose of calcium for pregnant women is 1.5-2g elemental calcium per day. This is much higher than the RDI of calcium and is based on clinical trials assessing the impact of calcium on preeclampsia risk during pregnancy (2).
It is recommended that calcium supplementation be initiated at around 20 weeks’ gestation for those women that are at a higher risk of developing preeclampsia. Focussing on dietary intake of calcium throughout the duration of pregnancy is also important (2).
There are many different forms of calcium available in supplement form. Both calcium citrate and calcium carbonate are highly bioavailable forms when compared to calcium gluconate. Calcium carbonate is more affordable, yet calcium citrate bioavailability is less affected by meals (2).
This blog was written by Felicity Harvey as part of her internship.
1. Khaing W, Vallibhakara SAO, Tantrakul V, Vallibhakara O, Rattanasiri S, McEvoy M, et al. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation for prevention of preeclampsia: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. Nutrients. 2017;9(10):1–23.
2. Omotayo MO, Dickin KL, O’Brien KO, Neufeld LM, De Regil LM, Stoltzfus RJ. Calcium supplementation to prevent preeclampsia: Translating guidelines into practice in low-income countries. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(2):275–8.
3. de Souza EA, Momentti AC, de Assis Neves R, Minari TP, de Sousa FLP, Pisani LP. Calcium intake in high-risk pregnant women assisted in a high-complexity hospital. Mol Biol Rep [Internet]. 2019;46(3):2851–6. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11033-019-04731-9
4. Hofmeyr GJ, Lawrie TA, Atallah ÁN, Duley L, Torloni MR. Calcium supplementation during pregnancy for preventing hypertensive disorders and related problems. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;2014(6).
5. Villa-Etchegoyen C, Lombarte M, Matamoros N, Belizán JM, Cormick G. Mechanisms involved in the relationship between low calcium intake and high blood pressure. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1–16.
6. Houston MC, Harper KJ. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium: their role in both the cause and treatment of hypertension. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2008;10(7 Suppl 2):3–11.
7. National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Calcium. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. 2014.
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