For Those with Lactose Intolerance Another Option

As another option, food products have been developed for people with lactose intolerance. Some products are lactose-reduced. Others contain lactase, the enzyme that digests milk sugar and that's deficient to some degree in people with lactose intolerance. If you're lactose-intolerant and if "Lactose: Tips for Tolerance" in this chapter aren't enough:

  • Look for lactose-treated milk and other dairy foods at the store. Lactose-reduced milk has 70 percent less lactose than regular milk; lactose-free milk is virtually free of any lactose.
  • Add lactase enzyme, available in tablets or in drops, to fluid milk before drinking it. You'll find instructions on the package. Your milk will taste slightly sweeter because added lactase breaks down the lactose in milk into simpler, sweeter sugars.
  • As another option, look for a lactase supplement to chew or swallow before eating lactose-rich foods. With a supplemental supply of lactase, you can eat without discomfort. Read the timing and dosage instructions on the package label.

magnesium, phosphorus, and many other nutrients.

Calcium is especially important because of its role in growing and maintaining strong bones. An adequate amount of calcium helps children and teens grow strong, healthy bones and helps prevent the bone-thinning disease called osteoporosis. Milk and other dairy foods supply about 72 percent of the calcium in the American food supply. Without these foods, meeting your calcium requirement can be challenging. For more about calcium in a healthful diet, see "Calcium: A Closer Look" in chapter 4.

If you're lactose-intolerant, consult a registered dietitian (RD) to help you plan a diet, adequate in calcium and vitamin D, while controlling the lactose in your meals and snacks. In extreme cases or for children or pregnant women with lactose intolerance, a physician or a registered dietitian also may recommend a calcium supplement. Most older children and adults can eat some foods with lactose, in some amount. For infants and young children, talk to your doctor about lactose-containing foods.

Lactose: Tips for Tolerance

Lactose intolerance is easy to manage. Most people with difficulty digesting lactose can include some dairy and other lactose-containing foods in their meals and snacks. In fact, most people with lower levels of lactase can drink a cup of milk without discomfort.

If you—or someone in your family—has trouble digesting lactose, try these tips to comfortably include lactose-containing foods in meals and snacks:

  • Experiment! Start with small amounts of lactose-containing foods. Then gradually increase the portion size to determine your personal tolerance level.
  • Enjoy lactose-containing foods as part of a meal or a snack, rather than alone. Try a milk-fruit smoothie, or milk and fruit on your morning cereal. The mix of foods slows release of lactose into the digestive system, making it easier to digest. Think of this as "diluting" the lactose.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent portions of lactose-rich foods. For example, drink V2- or 3/4-cup servings of milk several times throughout the day instead of 1-cup servings one, two, or three times daily.

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