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Pregnancy and lactose intolerance: How do you get enough calcium?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 9, 2020.

For many women, the ability to digest lactose improves during pregnancy, especially later in pregnancy. As a result, even if you're normally lactose intolerant, you might be able to drink milk and eat other dairy products without discomfort.

Calcium helps build your baby's bones and teeth. The Institute of Medicine recommends 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day during pregnancy. Pregnant teens need 1,300 milligrams a day.

If you experience lactose intolerance during pregnancy or dislike milk or other dairy products, consider these tips:

  • Choose other calcium-rich foods, such as almonds, broccoli, edamame, chickpeas, pinto beans, tofu, spinach, and calcium-fortified foods and drinks. If you drink almond milk, choose one with added calcium.
  • Take a calcium supplement.
  • Many people who are lactose intolerant can usually drink small portions of milk, such as a half cup, with a meal and have minimal or no symptoms.
  • Try lactose-free or lactose-reduced products, including milk, cheese and yogurt.
  • Yogurt and fermented products, such as cheeses, are often better tolerated than is regular milk. The lactose in yogurt is already partially digested by the active bacteria in yogurt.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, especially during the second half of your pregnancy. Vitamin D is typically included in your prenatal vitamin, along with calcium.

If you're concerned about how much calcium you're getting, talk to your health care provider.

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