Pregnant women are often advised to get three glasses or more of milk each day to ensure they get enough calcium to support fetal growth and development. But you need not be relegated to only milk as your calcium source. Yogurt is another great source of calcium, and might offer even more benefits during pregnancy than milk does.
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Calcium in Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the calcium you consume helps build your baby's bones, teeth and muscles. Pregnant women over 18 need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day and pregnant teens 18 and younger need 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily. When you don't get enough calcium during pregnancy, your body pulls it from your own bones to provide the baby with enough.
Milk Vs Yogurt
One 8-ounce glass of milk contains 301 milligrams of calcium, almost a third of the requirement for a pregnant woman. Because milk is so convenient, it is usually recommended as the calcium source of choice during pregnancy. A cup of plain yogurt made from skim milk has about 488 milligrams of calcium, nearly half of the daily requirement for most pregnant women. Substituting yogurt for milk is a perfectly fine way to get your needed dose of this important mineral.
Yogurt and Probiotics
In addition to high levels of calcium, yogurt also contains probiotics, helpful bacteria that fight off infections in your digestive tract. Look for yogurt that lists live active cultures on the label to ensure you get a good dose of these beneficial bacteria. A 2005 review in the journal "Canadian Family Physician" found that probiotics from yogurt may help prevent vaginal infections that might lead to premature labor and could lead to a lowered risk of allergic reactions in the newborn. Also, if you decide to have a daily serving of yogurt, you might want to opt for Greek yogurt, since this style has twice the level of protein compared to regular yogurt.
Milk and yogurt are not the only sources of calcium and plenty of pregnant women who have dairy allergies or lactose intolerance get through pregnancy just fine without ever consuming any dairy products. Canned fish with bones, such as salmon or sardines, can be an excellent calcium source that also give you a dose of omega-3 fatty acids that aid fetal brain development. Calcium-fortified orange juice and cereals can provide some of your daily requirement as well. Cheese, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds also contain calcium. Another good source is tofu that has been processed using calcium. Your prenatal vitamin probably also supplies at least some calcium, and supplements are available if you can't get enough through your diet.