Calcium is an essential mineral for a human body, we all know that. It is THE bone builder mineral. It also is an essential nutrient and plays a vital role in nerve and muscle function. However its absorption in the body is insufficient (only 30-40% of Calcium is absorbed in the intestines), plus losses are rather high. That is why the recommended daily intake is high to ensure that body gets sufficient Calcium.
Calcium needs Vitamin D for maximum absorption. One of the reasons Calcium supplements are fortified with Vitamin D. On the other hand Iron and Zinc hinder the absorption of Calcium. And coffee, soft drinks (!) and excessive intake of protein and sodium can deplete calcium levels (as their act as diuretics).
Pregnant and lactating women need more Calcium as the recommended daily allowance as we pass this essential mineral to our babies (growing skeleton, bones, nervous system…..). Before pregnancy I didn’t consumed that many dairy products and supplemented with Calcium supplements (after suffering stress fracture in my hip beginning of 2013). At the start of the pregnancy I was careful what I was putting into my mouth and eliminated pretty much all supplements (apart from folic acid). I tried to get all the nutrients from the food. Which didn’t quite worked out. See my blog Pregnancy Cravings.
But there is something else Calcium plays an important role in. Going through my nutrients book last night I came across this interesting fact. Calcium is a calming mineral and promotes sleep. How interesting!? Pregnancy does rob you from a decent sleep, no matter what stage of pregnancy you are. But especially at the end when you are too huge to move, too many trips to the toilet, worry about things, the list is endless. You are so tired that you don’t even know what a good night sleep is anymore. I know I know it will get worst once baby is here.
Anyway back to Calcium……
When I discovered the reason for my cravings for bread and butter (Calcium deficiency), I started to take Calcium supplements again. I usually take it just before I go to bed as I eat high protein diet during the day. However in the last 3 months my dairy consumption has been increase (cravings!). I do eat a fairly large amount of yogurts, cheese and butter on a daily basis. So I only started taken Calcium Supplements every other day. (things starting to fall into places…..)
Thinking back about the same time, 3 months, where I started having very, very bad night sleeps. Some night I get 3-4 hours of decent sleep, some nights none. I just couldn’t figure out why? I didn’t see the connection.
Last night I started the experiment, does Calcium really promotes a good night sleep? Not sure, but I will see how it goes over the next few nights. Might not be as true as I would wish for, as I am only few days away from due date. But it is worth trying.
Plus it makes perfect sense to me, why it is recommended to drink a glass of warm milk (with a cookie) before bed! Genius…..
Our main sources of Calcium are dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt. But there are great alternatives such as green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale) or sardines. Check out this article: Dairy-Free Sources of Calcium.