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Is my calcium intake appropriate?

Q: I am 30 years old and I am expecting my first baby and this is my 20th week of pregnancy. I am anaemic and take ferrous sulphate 200 mg twice a day. I stay overseas and here they do not prescribe calcium or vitamin D supplements for pregnant women. How do I manage to get this in my diet? I drink 3 cups of milk and have a cup of yoghurt daily. I also drink 1 glass of orange juice. I eat 4-8 almonds everyday. Is this sufficient? Should I increase my intake of diary products, so that I can meet the calcium requirements? My friends say that I should take supplements in the form of medicines. Is this true?

A:I think its great that you are trying and getting your calcium requirements and vitamin D requirements met from your diet. Calcium absorption is dependent upon the calcium needs of the body, the foods eaten, and the amount of calcium in the food eaten. Vitamin D from diet or exposure to the ultraviolet light of the sun increases calcium absorption. From what you have mentioned you are consuming a good amount of milk, perhaps you could add an additional bowl of yoghurt. There are several other calcium containing foods like ragi (nachni) of, which you could make a porridge. Milk is not the only source - dark green leafy vegetables like spinach are also rich in calcium. Calcium is lost in cooking some foods even under the best conditions. To retain calcium: - Cook foods in a minimal amount of water. - Cook for the shortest possible time. Some foods, such as orange juice, bread, and ready-to-eat cereals, are not normally good sources of calcium but may have had calcium added. Most instant-prepared cereals are fortified with calcium. Check for those fortified and buy those. Use milk instead of water in recipes such as pancakes, soups, mashed potatoes, porridge when kneading atta and with instant, hot breakfast cereals. Sprinkle grated low fat or fat free cheese on salad, soup or pasta. Choose milk instead of carbonated soft drinks. Serve raw fruits and vegetables with a low fat or fat free yoghurt based dip like cucumber sticks with a garlic yoghurt dip. Create a vegetable stir-fry and toss in diced tofu or paneer. Fortify wheat flour with soya flour. Complement your diet with calcium-fortified foods such as certain cereals, orange juice and soya beverages.

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