Find out why drinking milk is important during pregnancy
When you are pregnant, just like other nutrients, your body needs extra calcium too. And what’s a better way to get more calcium than by increasing your milk consumption? In this article, learn about the importance of drinking milk during pregnancy, and how it can boost the growth and development of your foetus.
Calcium requirement during pregnancy
Calcium is an important mineral required by everyone every day. It not only helps in building teeth and bones, but also helps nerves to transfer messages from the brain to the other parts of the body. Our body cannot produce calcium by itself. We can only get it from certain foods and supplements. During pregnancy, a mother’s body uses the calcium reserves from her own bones and teeth to provide it to the baby. So, a mother needs extra calcium to support her body while she is pregnant.
- This can be achieved by either drinking 3 cups of milk (one cup of milk gives 118 mg calcium) or fortified orange juice or by eating cereals that satisfy the calcium requirement.
- Women with low calcium levels are recommended to either increase the intake of rich sources of calcium like milk and cheese, or consume a supplement that gives 600 to 1000 mg of calcium per day.
- Along with this, adequate exposure to the sun or an increase in Vitamin D supplementation is a must.
- Best natural sources of calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt.
- Dark green leafy vegetables have calcium in comparatively smaller amounts. Food sources that have calcium added to them include calcium-fortified cereal, bread, orange juice, and soy drinks. But always check the nutrition labels to be sure.
Obtaining calcium from foods can become a challenge for lactose-intolerant or vegan mothers. The doctor might then recommend a calcium supplement. These come in two variants.
- One is calcium carbonate that is cheaper and should be taken along with food.
- Another one is calcium citrate that works well even if you take it on an empty stomach.
Vitamin D is also present in most of the calcium supplements as it helps in calcium absorption by the body. Always split up your calcium supplement and only take a maximum of 500 mg of calcium per day to facilitate better absorption.
If the supplements make you bloated, gassy or constipated, you might have to talk to your doctor.
Importance of milk during pregnancy
The calcium requirements of a pregnant women to support the baby’s development can mostly be met with whole milk. Even though whole milk has more saturated fats and calories than reduced fat or skimmed milk, it offers a lot of specific benefits that are important during pregnancy. Whole milk is also fortified with vitamin D, which is needed for calcium absorption. Milk is a powerhouse of phosphorus too.
Older pregnant women need 1200 mg of calcium/day. Younger women need up to 600-800 mg of calcium/day. Consuming four servings of dairy items, like milk, cheese, or yoghurt, might meet these requirements. Research has shown that drinking milk during pregnancy also contributes to the height of the child in adulthood, more than weight. Milk also contains high protein (1 cup contains 3.26g). Fats present in milk (1 cup gives 4.48g of fat) also serve as a vehicle for vitamin A, D, and E. For vegetarians, milk is also the only source of vitamin B12.
Varieties of milk
There are various types of milk available these days, like raw milk, organic milk, and inorganic milk.
The raw milk that is delivered by local dairies may not be hygienic and must be avoided. Packaged milk in turn is processed to get rid of bacteria and impurities. Toned, double-toned and full-cream milk are variants of packaged milk. Toned and double-toned are the diluted versions and full-cream is the undiluted version of packaged milk.
Most studies show that tetra pack milk is the safest and the best milk to drink when pregnant, due to the way it is packaged, processed, and treated, with almost zero or minimum contamination. However, check the nutrition label before you buy these. The one with no sugar and less fat is the milk that is good for pregnancy.
Adulteration of milk in India
Survey has shown that almost 68.7 % of milk and milk-based items that are sold in India do not meet the FSSAI standards, and are commonly adulterated with caustic soda, detergent, refined oil, glucose, and white paint. WHO has also stated that if milk adulteration in India is not checked immediately, almost 87% of its citizens will suffer from cancer by the year 2025. Hence, make sure you are buying milk from the right sources, especially during pregnancy.