For many Australians, Milo is an iconic food, like Vegemite or good old Anzac biscuits.
It’s a delicious malt drink, taken either warm or cold.
Exactly how to prepare Milo is well-argued between many Aussies.
Stirred or unstirred? Thick layer on the bottom or on top? Cold milk or hot?
But there’s always been the question: is Milo safe during pregnancy?
I couldn’t get enough of it during my pregnancies. It was almost like an addiction at one point.
I couldn’t wait to sit down at the end of my day with my big glass of Milo – a thick layer on the bottom with cold milk on top.
Exactly how it should be!
But like many expecting mothers, I wanted to make sure everything I was eating was safe.
So after some extensive research, I found the answers I was looking for.
Now we’ll explore the question many craving mothers are asking: Is Milo safe during pregnancy?
Benefits of drinking Milo during pregnancy
Milo is promoted as having a low glycemic index (GI).
GI measures the effects of certain foods on blood glucose levels.
Low GI foods promote a slower rise in blood glucose, which sustains energy for longer.
This low GI rating only applies when Milo is mixed with skim or reduced-fat milk.
Milo states it provides 10% of daily protein and suggests it ‘helps nourish growing bones’.
Milo also boasts eight essential vitamins and minerals.
The manufacturers claim this is ‘to support effective energy release in the body’.
Here are Milo’s vitamins and minerals, each with the percentage of recommended daily intake (RDI):
- B2 (40%)
- B3 (32%)
- B6 (35%)
- B12 (50%)
- C (32%)
- D (32%)
- Calcium (50%)
- Iron (34%)
- Phosphorus (33%).
(Based on an average adult diet of 8700kj)
The company also states on the tin: ‘Milo boosts the calcium of milk by 70%’.
Many pregnant mothers like to believe the iron in Milo is beneficial for them and their growing babies.
Unfortunately, calcium from the milk prohibits the absorption of iron.
So is Milo safe during pregnancy? Yes, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t replace a healthy, balanced diet.
Is there caffeine in Milo?
One of the ingredients that gives Milo its chocolate taste is cocoa.
Cocoa has trace amounts of caffeine.
The USDA states cocoa contains 230mg caffeine per 100g cocoa solids.
Milo itself states:
‘Caffeine naturally occurs in cocoa. MILO® powder contains 0.011-0.024g caffeine/100g MILO® i.e. 2.2mg-4.8mg per 20g serve MILO®. This is less than 10% of the caffeine found in a cup of instant coffee (2g of instant coffee has around 70mg caffeine per serve)’.
Studies show moderate intake of caffeine in pregnancy has little risk to your baby.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends caffeine intake of less than 300mg daily.
Does Milo contain vitamin A?
Vitamin A is an essential part of our diet and is important for vision and for cellular growth.
It’s also vital to form and maintain organs, such as the heart, kidneys, and lungs.
Understandably, there was some concern about vitamin A during pregnancy.
These concerns came from advice given to expecting mothers that too much vitamin A can be harmful to babies.
Pregnant women are advised to avoid foods or supplements high in vitamin A, such as liver or pâté.
The best type of vitamin A is beta-carotene found in food sources such as:
- Red peppers
Milo used to contain vitamin A; it was removed in 2015, however, as were magnesium and vitamin B1.
Here is what our expert nutritionist Dr Andrew Orr has to say about vitamin A and Milo:
“Yes, vitamin A is safe during pregnancy. I would be more concerned about the Milo.
Vitamin A helps with babies’ teeth and bone development and also helps prevent fetal distress syndrome. It is important for babies’ immunity.
I would be more worried about the high sugar levels and other rubbish in the actual Milo.
Vitamin A only carries a caution in pregnancy, and it’s not contraindicated.
Women can have up to 8000 IUs per day in pregnancy and, as previously shared, the baby needs it for its teeth, eyes, and bone development, along with its immune system.
Vitamin A at ultra-high doses, up to 30,000 IU, has been used to help endometriosis and assist with period pain.
Many women are told or think that they cannot take vitamin A in pregnancy, which is actually not true.
Cautions are there to ask a healthcare provider for advice and what doses to be used, but it does not mean do not take”.
What foods should I eat in pregnancy?
As new mums, we want to do what is best for our growing babies, and it’s normal to analyse every little thing.
Eating the right foods is also important for our own health; it also helps maintain steady weight gain.
Gaining too much or not enough weight during pregnancy can increase risks such as:
- Gestational diabetes
- A baby small for gestational age
- A baby large for gestational age
- Delivery complications
- Caesarean section
- Increased risk of special care nursery admission.
During pregnancy, our bodies need more nutrients to assist in the health and development of our babies.
Eating a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats is best for you and your baby.
Stay away from heavily processed foods that are high in sugar and fats.
Choose a rainbow of vegetables to go with each meal. They’re a great source of fibre, vitamins and antioxidants.
Dairy products provide calcium and other important minerals.
Iron-rich foods such as red meats and green leafy vegetables are essential. Pregnancy can reduce the amount of iron circulating in the blood and iron stores.
And of course, drinking plenty of water is highly recommended. Even if it means you will be needing to visit the toilet more often.
Check out our article 5 Yummy, Healthy Foods Every Pregnant Woman Needs To Eat.
What foods should I avoid in pregnancy?
During pregnancy, we are told to be careful of certain foods as they can cause harm.
Some of these foods are:
- Soft cheeses
- Raw or uncooked meats, such as ham, salami, liver or pâté
- Raw eggs
- Fish high in mercury, such as flake
- Anything pre-packaged
It’s best if you can cook your foods from scratch, and you know where they came from.
Fresh is always best!
What are the best supplements to take during pregnancy?
Eating whole foods is always the best way to get the nutrients you and your growing baby need.
Sometimes, we’re advised by our health professionals to take supplements.
There are many types of pregnancy vitamins on the market, and it can be really confusing to know which one to pick.
Some vitamins are manufactured from other artificial sources that might not be as easily absorbed by the body.
A good example is folic acid and folate. They are both forms of vitamin B, essential before and during pregnancy
Folic acid is a man-made version, fortified into foods or made into over the counter supplements.
Folate is found in foods; it has the same benefits without synthetic additives.
Check out Folate – 9 Top Foods Containing Folate For Pregnancy for more information.
Whole food vitamins and minerals are much more easily absorbed.
You can buy these through nutritionists, some pharmacies, and compounding chemists, or they can be found online.
When to stop taking Milo during pregnancy?
We’ve answered the question: Is Milo safe during pregnancy? but should you stop having it?
Ideally, Milo should remain a ‘sometimes’ food during pregnancy, rather than something you have several times a day.
Made with milk, Milo has the equivalent of 2 teaspoons of sugar. These are empty calories that have no nutritional benefits.
Although dairy milk does have some nutritional benefits, there are other ways to get calcium and minerals into your diet.
If your weight gain during pregnancy is a concern, you might be at a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes.
In that case, it’s wise to stop taking Milo during pregnancy and choose healthier options.
Craving Milo during pregnancy
If you’re craving a Milo during pregnancy, don’t worry.
You can drink Milo, hot or cold; just try to limit the number of Milos you have.
And don’t add sugar to your Milo!
If you need to watch the calories, try replacing Milo with cacao powder and a small amount of honey or coconut sugar.