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Lactose And Pregnancy: The Importance

Pregnancy is a physiological event that requires a lot of attention, not only for the health of the child but also for that of the mother. To ensure the well-being of both, a correct diet is involved which must be varied and balanced and which includes the right amount of calcium.

To take the right amount of calcium, you need to consume milk and its derivatives, but what should you do if you have lactose intolerance? Don’t worry; this category of foods is not the only source of calcium for your body. Many other foods can provide calcium in sufficient quantities.

The Importance Of Calcium During Pregnancy

Calcium plays a fundamental role, together with vitamin D, which allows its regular absorption for blood coagulation, neural transmission, skeletal and cardiac muscle contraction, and other metabolic activities. It should not be surprising that calcium is the most present mineral in the body. The human body is not capable of self-producing it, and consequently, a varied and balanced diet is the only way to satisfy its demand. 

At the time of pregnancy, it is necessary to pay close attention to the amount of calcium that is taken in by the mother, as during this phase, the need for calcium increases, given that calcium is necessary for the baby to grow. A deficiency can cause severe damage not only to the child’s development but also to the mother’s health. A calcium deficiency, in fact, can lead to a series of complications, such as premature birth, a condition of osteopenia, or demineralization of the bones in the mother. 

In this case, the organism releases the calcium present in the mother’s bones to the child to make up for the lack of calcium within the body. Most expectant mothers are able to meet this calcium requirement with natural nutrition. Still, otherwise, it will be necessary to consult the doctor, who will, if necessary, prescribe a suitable calcium supplement or other micronutrients.

What To Do If You Have Lactose Intolerance During Pregnancy

The daily requirement of calcium in an adult is 800–1000 mg, and experts recommend taking 1200 mg of calcium during pregnancy precisely because a more significant quantity is necessary for the correct development of the fetus. It is known that milk and its derivatives, such as yogurt and cheese, are some of the most precious sources of calcium. In fact, milk contains approximately 125 mg per 100 ml, Greek yogurt about 150 mg, and mature cheeses, for example, parmesan, contain 1159 mg per 100 g. So, what to do in case of lactose intolerance? 

This is actually not a problem. There are many types of lactose-free milk on the market, such as those from the Zymil Milk line, which have the same amount of calcium. It should not be forgotten that the quantity of lactose is eliminated in well-matured and hard cheeses thanks to the production process they undergo. Consequently, they can be consumed by those who are lactose intolerant. These also have a higher calcium content for the same weight. As for yogurt, the amount of sugar it contains (lactose) is transformed into lactic acid by the bacteria present in it through the fermentation process. 

It is, therefore, digestible by people who have difficulty absorbing lactose. The amount of lactose in a yogurt can vary but is generally around 4 or 5 g. Also, in this case, you may prefer lactose-free products, such as Zymil White Yogurt, in which the percentage of lactose is less than 0.1% and is very suitable for those who have milk digestion problems and want to maintain a light diet. In case of milk allergies or the exclusion of milk and derivatives from your diet due to personal choice, you can also use vegetable milk, such as almond milk or spilled milk. 

The latter contains large quantities of calcium. Furthermore, it is possible to get the right amount of calcium from other foods, which have a good percentage, and to drink at least 2 liters of calcium-rich water per day. The latter, in fact, is the drink we consume daily and in the most significant quantity without extra calories for the body; therefore, it is a good idea to choose the right one for your needs.

What Are The Best Foods To Supplement Calcium?

As we have said, calcium can be ingested not only through milk and its derivatives but also through other foods that contain a good quantity. Dried fruit, legumes, vegetables, and fish are what you need. Here are the best foods to supplement calcium:

  1. Sesame seeds, per 100 g, contain 975 mg of calcium, as do chia and flax seeds, which also have good doses of Omega 3;
  2. Green leafy vegetables such as arugula, which contains 309 mg per 100 g; agretti and spinach, to be combined with a source of vitamin C to promote calcium absorption, such as lemon juice;
  3. Oranges, a glass of juice contains 70 mg of calcium;
  4. Legumes in general; for example, raw chickpeas contain 142 mg per 100 g, while dried beans contain 135 mg. 
  5. Cabbages, especially kale, which contains 100 mg of calcium per serving;
  6. Almonds Nuts;
  7. Figures per 100 g contain 35 mg of calcium and are a source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium.
  8. Sardines, which per 100 g contain 300 mg of calcium, as well as providing the body with vitamin B12 and vitamin D, the latter being fundamental for the synthesis of calcium.

In general, however, it is always good to avoid exaggerating the quantities of dried fruit, as it is very caloric. Among the vegetables, chicory, artichokes, and leeks are also preferable. Among the fish richest in calcium, there are also octopus, crustaceans, squid, and all oily fish. Calcium absorption also depends on the presence of vitamin D, which is also present in foods, albeit in small quantities, such as cod liver oil, eggs, and fish. It is accumulated in the liver and, therefore, does not need to be taken regularly. The metabolism of vitamin D requires various steps, and the first occurs in the skin. Exposure to the sun is necessary to initiate skin synthesis. For this reason, it is good to expose yourself to sunlight daily with appropriate precautions.

How Lactose Intolerance Manifests Itself

Lactose intolerance is a disorder that affects approximately half of the world’s population and often presents with mild symptoms, so much so that the cause cannot be immediately identified. This pathology manifests itself in a series of gastrointestinal disorders caused by a deficiency of the lactase enzyme. This enzyme, present in the human organism, is able to split lactose into the two simple sugars that compose it, glucose and galactose, and thus allow correct digestion not only of cow’s milk and its derivatives but also of other foods that may contain traces of lactose, such as baked goods, bread, and even some cured meats. 

Lactose that is not adequately digested arrives in the intestine. In the colon, it undergoes a fermentation process by the bacterial flora, which generates the production of gasses such as hydrogen and methane, with the consequent manifestation of the disorders typical of this intolerance. The total or partial lack of this enzyme causes a series of symptoms of varying severity and difference from patient to patient. Among the most common symptoms of this intolerance are, obviously, slow digestion and a sense of bloating and heaviness, as well as meteorism, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting, which can appear from 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingesting the food. 

Often, those who are intolerant tend to eliminate foods containing lactose from their diet, but, as we have seen, this can lead to consequences, even serious ones. To avoid this and have a balanced diet, it is advisable to replace foods containing lactose with alternative or lactose-free foods. The latter is added with the lactase enzyme, which splits the lactose into two monosaccharides and allows correct digestion. In this regard, we have seen how the products of the Zymil line are excellent for replacing cow’s milk and yogurt, offering light and nutritious products.


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