Is Muscle Milk Safe During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a time when nutrition becomes more important than ever. Food supplements might seem like an attractive option for the nutrition and convenience they offer, but avoiding toxins in the food you consume matters as much as including essential nutrients. Despite the dietary benefits supplements like Muscle Milk might offer, they also might contain contaminants, according to "Consumer Reports." Consult with your health care provider prior to adding Muscle Milk to your pregnancy diet.

A pregnant woman with a glass of milk. Credit: Arief-Juwono/iStock/Getty Images

Muscle Milk

Muscle Milk is a commercially available food supplement made by Cytosport, available either as a premade shake or a powder for mixing into a shake. Muscle Milk is rich in protein and fats, with a 5 tbsp. serving of powder – 14 oz. of ready-to-drink liquid – supplying 25 g of protein and 9 g of fat, according to caloriefacts.org. Muscle milk provides significant amounts of B vitamins, including folate; vitamins A, C, D and E; and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc. Cytosport claims the protein in Muscle Milk derives from high-quality milk and soy proteins, both important and safe additions to your pregnancy diet.

Pregnancy Nutrition

Pregnancy increases your need for certain nutrients. For example, your pregnancy diet should include 71 g of high-quality protein each day for optimal growth and development of your baby, according to Ohio State University. Your folate requirement increases from 400 to 600 mcg per day during pregnancy to help avoid the birth defect spina bifida, while your calcium intake should be 1,000 mg each day. Your zinc and iron needs also increase during pregnancy. A single serving of Muscle Milk provides at least 25 percent of your pregnancy requirements of each of these nutrients, a safe amount for a food supplement.

Heavy Metals

In July 2011, "Consumer Reports" measured the amount of contaminating heavy metals in a variety of protein drinks. Testing an amount equivalent to three servings – which it claims is a common daily intake among people who consume protein supplements – it found several protein drinks exceeded safe levels of contamination by arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. While ready-to-drink chocolate Muscle Milk did not exceed safety standards for these contaminants, vanilla cream Muscle Milk powder showed excessive levels of lead and chocolate Muscle Milk powder contained high levels of both lead and cadmium. Because of these contaminating heavy metals, you might choose to avoid Muscle Milk during pregnancy.

Other Considerations

Cytosport claims that the findings of "Consumer Reports" are skewed because of how much Muscle Milk powder it tested and how it determined the toxicity levels of the contaminating heavy metals. Cytosport also states these heavy metals are naturally present in whole food sources. However, to guard against potential ingestion of toxic heavy metals, your safe choice might be to avoid Muscle Milk products during pregnancy.

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