Higher calcium, zinc intake may reduce fatal blood pressure disorders in pregnancy

Are you planning to become a mother? A study has found that high intake of calcium and zinc three months before conception can help avoid dangerous blood pressure disorders like preeclampsia during pregnancy.

The study by US researchers highlights the importance of paying attention to nutrition before conception – not just during pregnancy – as it can often take time for the body to correct deficiencies or imbalances.

Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the most common disorders of pregnancy and can harm both the pregnant woman and the developing fetus. Taking antihypertensive medications during pregnancy can also have potential adverse effects on the growing fetus. Therefore, researchers focused on opportunities to prevent preeclampsia through modifiable factors such as nutrition.

“Our findings underscore the importance of preconception dietary calcium and zinc intake in reducing the risk of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy,” said Liping Lu, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University and is now an assistant professor at Ball State University.

“Higher intakes of zinc and calcium from diet and supplements before conception are associated with a reduced risk of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy.”

The researchers drew these conclusions based on two separate studies — one focused on calcium and the other on zinc — and used data from more than 7,700 pregnant women across the United States.

Women in the highest quintile of preconception calcium intake were 24 percent less likely to experience hypertensive disorders during pregnancy than women in the lowest quintile.

In the case of zinc, women who had the highest zinc intake before pregnancy were 38 percent less likely to develop hypertensive disorders during pregnancy than women with the lowest zinc intake.

As for observational studies, Lu said the results don't necessarily prove cause. However, the findings match other studies that have linked higher intakes of the two minerals to a lower risk of high blood pressure-related diseases outside of pregnancy.

These findings will be presented at Nutrition 2024, the American Society for Nutrition's flagship annual meeting, held in Chicago from June 29 to July 2.

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