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The benefits of eating dairy products during pregnancy
Dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, protein, vitamin D, phosphorus, and other essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are important for your baby's developing bones, teeth, muscles, heart, and nerves, and for blood clotting.
How much dairy do I need during pregnancy?
Aim to eat three to four servings of calcium-rich foods a day, enough to give you 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium.
You can get all the nutrients you need from nonfat and low-fat dairy products and fortified soy milk. Which you choose may depend on whether you're overweight, right on target, or underweight during your pregnancy. Talk to your provider to find out what's best for you.
What's in a serving?
|Food||Serving Size||Calories||Calcium (mg)||Protein (grams)||Fat (grams)|
|skim milk, fortified||1 cup||83||299||8||<1|
|evaporated milk, nonfat||1 cup||200||742||19||<1|
|1% milk||1 cup||102||305||8||2|
|2% milk||1 cup||122||293||8||5|
|whole milk||1 cup||149||276||8||8|
|chocolate milk, low-fat||1 cup||155||322||9||3|
|plain yogurt, nonfat||1 cup||137||488||14||<1|
|plain yogurt, low-fat||1 cup||154||448||13||4|
|plain yogurt, whole milk||1 cup||149||296||9||8|
|fruit-flavored yogurt, nonfat||6 ounces||162||258||7||<1|
|fruit-flavored yogurt, low-fat||6 ounces||178||287||8||2|
|ice cream, vanilla||1/2 cup||137||84||2||7|
|ice cream, chocolate||1/2 cup||143||72||3||7|
|soft-serve frozen yogurt, vanilla||1/2 cup||114||103||3||4|
|soft-serve frozen yogurt, chocolate||1/2 cup||115||106||3||4|
|sherbet, orange||1/2 cup||107||40||1||1|
|cottage cheese, nonfat||1/2 cup||52||62||8||<1|
|cottage cheese, 1%||1/2 cup||81||69||14||1|
|cottage cheese, 2%||1/2 cup||92||125||12||3|
|cottage cheese, whole milk, large curd||1/2 cup||103||87||12||5|
|cheddar cheese||1 oz.||115||201||6||10|
|cheddar cheese, low-fat||1 oz.||49||118||7||2|
|Swiss cheese||1 oz.||111||252||8||9|
|Swiss cheese, low-fat||1 oz.||50||269||8||1|
|mozzarella cheese, whole milk||1 oz.||85||143||6||6|
|mozzarella cheese part skim||1 oz.||72||222||7||5|
What are easy ways to get more calcium?
- Start your day with a bowl of cereal and milk. If you're not a big breakfast eater, just drink a glass of milk.
- When you need a midafternoon boost, treat yourself to a decaf latte, hot chocolate, or cup of steamed milk. If you make hot chocolate with a powdered mix, use milk instead of water to boost the calcium content. (Some brands don't contain a significant amount of milk.)
- Use evaporated milk, which has double the calcium of regular milk, in cooked dishes like mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cheese sauces and fruit smoothies, puddings, and custards.
- Make a yogurt dip for fresh vegetables.
- Top casseroles and soups with shredded cheese.
Note: To avoid the bacterial infection listeriosis, stay away from unpasteurized milk and all foods made with it, such as soft cheeses like feta, Brie, Camembert, and blue-veined cheese.
Can I eat dairy products even if I'm lactose intolerant?
Even if you're lactose intolerant, you probably don't need to give up all dairy products. Research shows that most people who have trouble digesting lactose (the sugar in milk) can tolerate at least 1 cup of milk at mealtimes.
Here are five ways to include dairy in your diet if you're lactose intolerant. (Be sure to check out this list of other good sources of calcium.)
- Drink lactose-reduced milk or add over-the-counter enzyme drops (which help break down the lactose) to your milk. You can also take enzyme supplements (lactase) to help you digest the lactose more easily. (Be sure to check with your doctor or midwife before taking lactase or any other supplements.)
- Divide it up. Have 1/2 cup of milk (especially whole or 2 percent) four times a day with meals or snacks. The fat in the milk slows down digestion, making the lactose easier to digest.
- Drink milk with food. It's easier to digest when mixed with other foods, especially high-fiber foods.
- Choose low-fat or hard, aged cheese. More than half the lactose is removed from low-fat cheese during processing. Hard, aged cheeses have the lowest lactose content.
- Eat yogurt. This can be a great alternative to milk. Yogurt also contains active cultures, which are beneficial bacteria that help you digest lactose.