Yoghurt is made from milk and therefore largely contains the same nutrients as milk. Both yoghurt and milk are a natural source of protein and also have a similar mineral content. An important difference between yoghurt and milk is the amount of lactose and B-vitamins.
A bowl (150 g) of plain fat free yoghurt contains the following nutrients (1):
- 8.1 g protein
- 240 mg calcium (34% of the RNI)
- 227 mg phosphorus (41% of the RNI)
- 0.33 mg vitamin B2 (25% of the RNI)
- 0.50 mcg vitamin B12 (33% of the RNI)
Protein helps to build and maintain muscle mass and also plays a role in the development of bones (2). Just like milk, yoghurt is naturally rich in protein. Some types of yoghurt, such as Greek and Bulgarian yoghurt, contain a bit more protein, as they are made from more concentrated milk which has been strained or because extra protein is added for a smoother taste.
The lactose content of yoghurt is about 30% below the lactose content of milk, because some of the lactose is converted to lactic acid during the fermentation process. This is favourable for people with a lactose intolerance.
Vitamins B2 and B12
Vitamins B2 and B12 help to release the energy from food. Vitamins B2 and B12 also help reduce tiredness and fatigue and contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system (3). The amount of vitamin B2 and B12 are usually lower in fermented milk products, such as yoghurt, as these vitamins are absorbed by the lactic acid bacteria. However, some lactic acid bacteria do not have this effect and some even increase the amount of certain B-vitamins.
Children need calcium for developing bones and teeth. For adults this mineral contributes to the maintenance of bone tissue. Calcium also supports the normal functioning of muscles, the conduction of nervous impulses in nerves, coagulation of blood and the normal functioning of digestive enzymes. (4)
Just like calcium, phosphorus contributes to the maintenance of bones and teeth. As well as this, phosphorus enhances the normal functioning of energy metabolism and the normal functioning of cell membranes in the body. (5)
Potassium makes a contribution to the normal functioning of the nervous system and muscles. This mineral is also important for maintaining a normal blood pressure. (6)
- McCance and Widdowson 7th ed. Reference Nutrient Intakes (RNI) from Department of Health, Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom, HMSO, 1991
- EFSA 2010;8(10):1811 and 2011;9(6):2203
- EFSA 2010;8(10):1814
- EFSA 2009; 7(9):1210-1272 and EFSA 2010;8(10):1725 2011;9(6):2203
- EFSA 2009; 7(9):1219
- EFSA 2010; 8(2):1469