Starting a Lactose-Free Eating Plan
Lactose Tolerance Levels Can Vary
Younger children who are lactose intolerant should not eat any foods containing lactose. Most older children and adults need not eliminate lactose from their daily diet completely, although tolerance levels tend to vary. Some people develop symptoms after drinking a cup of milk, while others may be able to eat ice cream and some cheeses, but not other dairy products. Successful dietary management of lactose intolerance is largely based on trial and error. Sufferers need to experiment and discover for themselves how much lactose they can tolerate.
Lactose Reduced Foods
Lactose-reduced milk and other milk-based products are available in many food and health stores. Lactose-reduced milk contains all of the nutrients found in regular milk and remains fresh for about the same length of time, or longer if it is super-pasteurized.
Lactase Enzyme Supplements
For sufferers who can only tolerate the smallest amounts of lactose, non-prescription lactase enzyme supplements are available and often help to make dairy foods more digestible. They are available in liquid or tablet form.
Problems of Nutritional Deficiency
Dairy food is a major source of nutrition in the average American diet. Its most important nutrient is calcium, which is essential for the growth and repair of bones. Calcium deficiency can lead in later life to fragile bones and a higher risk of fracture – a condition known as osteoporosis. Thus any serious inability to consume milk and other dairy products raises concerns about how best to obtain adequate calcium.
How Much Calcium Do We Need
In general, daily calcium requirements vary according to age group, as follows:
Age Group – Daily Calcium (mg)
0-6 months – 210 mg
7-12 months – 270 mg
1-3 years – 500 mg
4-8 years – 800 mg
9-18 years – 1,300 mg
19-50 years – 1,000 mg
51-70+ years – 1,200 mg
Note: Pregnant and nursing women under 19 need 1,300 mg daily, while pregnant and nursing women over 19 need 1,000 mg.