Growing up, Shade always wanted to be an athlete. Sadly, she couldn’t make the school team because of her struggle with fatigue. Years later, as a mum-to-be, Shade’s doctor linked this fatigue to low calcium stores. He strongly recommended that she increased her intake of calcium-rich foods for her baby’s benefit.
Although our bones need calcium to stay healthy, the body is unable to produce its own calcium content, therefore, our calcium requirement is met by what we consume in our diets.
Like Shade, many pregnant women need to consume adequate amounts of calcium to stay healthy and also support their little ones.
As usual, we’re here to support you in the Edie & Amy way by sharing a list of six Nigerian meals that supply you with the right amounts of this nutrient.
First, What’s Calcium?
It’s is an essential element needed by your body at all times. It helps to grow strong bones and teeth. Most of it is stored in our bones.
Interestingly, your body doesn’t produce any calcium. Thus, it relies mainly on the supply from your diet to meet the necessary calcium requirement.
We listed reasons why pregnant mums need calcium in a previous post. Everyone needs to consume about 700-1000mg of it daily. However, you need to make sure it does not exceed the 1500mg limit as excess amounts of calcium in the body may be harmful.
Calcium-Rich Food Sources
1. Dairy Products
Cheese, milk and yoghurt serve as the primary sources for the body.
In addition, the body absorbs calcium in dairy products easily compared to what is gotten from plant sources.
About 30g of cheese is guaranteed to provide you with over 300mg of calcium. In Nigeria, you can easily get wara (our own local cheese) from any vendor around you.
Furthermore, cheese provides additional health benefits by reducing the risk of heart disease.
Yoghurts come in different types.
From plain yoghurt, to greek yoghurt, low-fat, full-fat and even sweetened yoghurt. All these kinds of yogurt can provide you with calcium. As an additional health benefit, yoghurt is also rich in helpful bacteria which keeps the digestive tract healthy.
You should note that 45g of yoghurt provides you with about 300mg of calcium.
Milk provides you the best and cheapest calcium source in Nigeria.
It also provides you with protein, vitamin A and D. 27ml of cow’s milk contains about 276-352 mg of calcium depending on whether the milk is whole or non-fat.
2. White Beans
White beans is rich in protein, fibre and other essential nutrients. It also contains a substantial amount of calcium which every pregnant woman needs.
It would interest you to note that white beans contains more calcium than dark beans. A cup of white beans provides about 161mg of calcium.
The egg yolk contains most of the calcium in eggs.
About 90.5% of the nutrient in egg yolk is calcium. Egg yolk increases the ability of your body to absorb calcium from other calcium-rich foods.
A single egg white provides about 2.3mg of calcium.
Vegetables are good for the body because they supply essential nutrients like calcium. Common veggies like okra are quite rich in calcium.
Some vegetables such as spinach are high in oxalate, a naturally occurring compound that bind to calcium making some unavailable to the body.
A cup of okra contains about 82mg of calcium. It also provides protein fibre, zinc and iron.
5. Sweet Potatoes
One large size of sweet potato contains about 68mg of calcium. Sweet potatoes are also rich potassium and vitamins A and C. Furthermore, they are low in fat and calories.
It’s really possible to meet your daily calcium requirements. Thankfully, these foods and drinks are available, accessible and affordable.
Finally, all you have to do is eat right and eat smart. Remember to follow the guidelines listed above and you’re going to be just fine.
- Katherine Marengo (2018). Cacium-rich foods that vegans can eat. Accessed on 13th September, 2020 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322585#non-dairy-sources-of-calcium
- Kerri-Ann Jennings (2018). Top 15 Calcium-Rich Foods (Many Are Non-Dairy). Accessed on 13th September, 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-calcium-rich-foods
- Nigerian Diet (2018). 10 Nigerian Foods That Are Rich in Calcium. Accessed on 13th September, 2020 from https://nigeriandiet.com/nigerian-foods-rich-in-calcium/
- Oluyemisi Folake Folasire, Eyitayo Victoria Akinrinde (2017). “Calcium Knowledge and Consumption Pattern of Calcium-rich Foods among Female University Students in South-West Nigeria.” Journal of Food and Nutrition Research. Accessed on 13th September, 2020 from http://pubs.sciepub.com/jfnr/5/5/10
- Akpata E. I., Ezeanyika L.U.S., Nwodo OFC and Ezugwu A. L (2014). “Variations in the Calcium and Magnesium Contents of Selected Nigerian Leafy Vegetables and Seeds of Legumes, Gourds and Fruits.” IOSR Journal of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences (IOSR-JPBS). Accessed on 13th September, 2020 from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jpbs/papers/Vol9-issue6/Version-2/B09620509.ZI28_JPBS.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjrjM3Lxe7rAhVGTsAKHTpOC3oFjAKegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw3VWquaYLgQhMHcsBAVxuwQ