Some persons with celiac disease, especially those who are newly diagnosed, may have a secondary form of lactose intolerance. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk. To be digested, it must be broken down in the small intestine by the enzyme lactase. Persons newly diagnosed with celiac disease may have low levels of lactase as a result of damage to the lining of the small intestine.
As the small intestine heals in response to a gluten-free diet, the lactose intolerance will naturally resolve. Until it does, a lactose-reduced or lactose-free diet is generally recommended.
Because individuals with lactose intolerance may avoid milk products, and because milk products are a major source of calcium in the American diet, persons with celiac disease who also are lactose intolerant may not consume enough calcium.
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