According to a recent clinical review, an increased intake of calcium may reduce the risk of hypertension and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. The review, lead by researchers from Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at East London Hospital Complex in South Africa found that calcium supplementation were a safe and a relatively inexpensive way to reduce blood pressure in women more likely to develop hypertension.
Pre-eclampsia, affecting two to three per cent of all pregnancies occurs when a mother's blood pressure rises to the hypertensive range, and excretion of protein in the urine becomes too high.
It is not known why some expectant mothers develop pre-eclampsia, and other attempts to use supplements, most notably the antioxidant vitamin C and E, have resulted in null results.
While the results of the review are highly promising, further research may be needed before recommendations are changed. It should also be stressed that expectant mothers, as well as all women of child-bearing age, should continue to eat folic acid-rich or fortified foods and/or take folic acid supplements to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Sources of folic acid include dark leafy greens and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas.
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