If you are pregnant and suffering from lactose intolerance, you must avoid or decrease your intake of milk and milk products. The concern here has to do with the essential nutrients that you may be missing. The main nutrients in milk and milk products that may be of concern include calcium and vitamin D.

Even though you may be lactose intolerant, there are steps you can take to help maintain your level of nutrients such as calcium. To help manage your lactose intolerance, it is important to experiment with varying amounts of milk and dairy products to see what you can tolerate.

Keeping Up Calcium Requirements

Start with small amounts, and gradually increase the portion size to determine your personal tolerance level. Some dairy products seem to be better tolerated than others.

Yogurt, for example, has lactose that is already partially digested by the cultured bacteria it contains, so it may be easier for you to tolerate. Look for the National Yogurt Association’s seal, “Live and Active Cultures,” on yogurt cartons. Some buttermilk is also made with active cultures.

Always read food labels and ingredient lists for words that may indicate a product includes lactose, such as milk, dry milk solids, nonfat milk solids, buttermilk, lactose, malted milk, sour or sweet cream, margarine, milk chocolate, whey, whey protein concentrate, and cheese. If you still enjoy your cereal and milk at breakfast, try lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk and dairy products.

If you choose lactose-free milk, ensure it contains calcium. You can also try calcium-fortified soy milk as an alternative, which is lactose free. Be aware that some baked and processed foods often contain some amount of lactose, so get in the habit of checking labels.

Consume in Context

To help your system tolerate lactose-containing foods, eat them as part of a meal rather than alone. The mix of foods can help slow down the release of lactose into the digestive system, helping to make it easier to digest. Choose calcium-rich foods that are naturally lower in lactose, such as aged cheeses (Swiss, Colby, Parmesan, or Cheddar). As a quick tip, look for kosher foods that have the words “parev” or “parve” on the label. This means they are milk free.

Try consuming dairy products in smaller quantities at one sitting. Instead of drinking a whole glass of milk, split it up to ½ cup with lunch and 1/2 cup with dinner. You can also try special tablets and drops that you can add to regular milk that will help to break down the lactose before you drink it. Make sure to follow package directions. There are also lactase enzyme tablets that you can take before eating milk or milk products.

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