What Is Lactose & What Foods Can I Find It In?

3D-model of Lactose? Is It Good For Everyone (src)

Lactose is often referred to as milk sugar.

Because it's a sweet, natural component in milk.

Nutritionally, milk and dairy products are an important source of energy, proteins, fats, and nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.

Lactose is particularly an important part of the energy supply for infants.

With age, some children lose their ability to digest large amounts of lactose. This can lead to lactose intolerance.

Table of Contents

Lactose, A Compound In Milk

Lactose is a disaccharide consisting of glucose and galactose, sometimes called milk sugar.

Lactose is a natural component in all kinds of human and animal milk. (source )

Lactose constitutes a majority of the carbohydrate content of human and cow's milk and is an important part of the energy supply for infants in particular.

Milk and milk products contribute 73% of the calcium to US foods. (source )

Benefits and side-effects of consuming lactose can you read about in Lactose: 3 Research-Backed Benefits & 2 Side-Effects

Lactose Intolerance

With age, many children lose their ability to digest large amounts of lactose, leading to lactose intolerance.

This permanent condition, which occurs in adolescence and adulthood, is not an important health concern, even though milk and milk products are important foods. (source )

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, or milk sugar, found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Lactose intolerance is a common problem that many people are aware of, and the symptoms are well known.

In people with lactose intolerance, lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose, is not produced or is not active in the small intestine. Lactase is produced in the small intestine in order to digest lactose. Without lactase, lactose remains undigested in the small intestine and is fermented by bacteria. This causes gas and discomfort in the person.

Most cases of lactose intolerance

High incidences of lactose intolerance are found throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia and among Australian aborigines and Native Americans.

Lactose intolerance is most common in regions of the world where adults do not drink milk.

New research shows that people genetically intolerant to lactose, have lower blood levels of vitamin D than the general population. (source )

Uses Of Lactose

Lactose is widely used in the food industry, particularly for cheese manufacture, as a sweetening agent, as a stabilizing agent in a variety of foodstuffs, and in medicine.

In the milk industry, lactose is used in the manufacture of whey protein concentrates, low fat milk, and lactose-containing ice cream.

In the medical industry, lactose is used in the manufacture of infant formulas and certain other food products.

Foods You Can Find Lactose In

You find Lactose mostly in baby food, sweets, dairy and egg, baked, products.

Examples of food sources include

Foods in our nutrition tool

You can find regularly updated, top-ranked lists of foods for over 200+ nutrients in our nutrition tool.

If you are interested in what foods contain the most lactose, we recommend you visit our tool.

Here's our top-ranked list of foods that contain lactose.

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

Author Image of Sara Niemelä

Nutrition is my passion. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours reading, analyzing, categorizing and comparing research studies.

I’m a wife and a mother of three. I enjoy the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with my family.