Lactaid® is the trade name for a line of food products made especially for people who are lactose intolerant. These products include milk, cottage cheese, ice cream, and related foods that contain no lactose. In addition to these items, there are also lactase supplements that are designed to help someone who is lactose intolerant to be able to digest ordinary dairy products. All of the products made by Lactaid® allow lactose intolerant individuals to benefit from the nutrients available from dairy products, without suffering unpleasant digestive symptoms.
Lactose is a natural sugar found in all milk products, as well as in mothers' milk. It comprises about two to eight percent of milk, by weight. To be able to digest this sugar, the body produces an enzyme called lactase, which breaks the sugar down into smaller molecules for use as energy. Most of us gradually lose the ability to produce lactase in our bodies to some degree as we age. Without lactase enzymes, the body is lactose intolerant, meaning it is unable to metabolize milk sugar.
The likelihood that a person will become lactose intolerant depends somewhat on ethnicity. For example, those with Northern European heritage are least likely to become lactose intolerant, while between 90 and 100% of Native Americans and those from South and East Asian countries do become lactose intolerant. Ethnicity is not the only variable; indeed, an individual's particular diet has much more effect that anything else on whether he will become lactose intolerant.
The ability to consume dairy products is important because of the many nutrients found in milk, most notably calcium. Calcium can, of course, be found in other sources, but dairy products are an especially common one. Having the option of dairy products that have had the lactose removed gives a person a convenient and healthy way to obtain the calcium and other nutrients we need. Lactaid® products such as lactose-free milk and cheese are ideal for household use. Lactaid® dietary lactase supplements can be used anywhere, and are taken with the first bite of a meal or dessert containing dairy products.
In addition to supplements and lactose-free dairy products, Lactaid® also offers a collection of recipes, specially designed to incorporate Lactaid® products. These recipes are either free of lactose or contain very little of it. Lactaid® is generally safe for anyone to use, and is not known to harmfully interact with any medications. If you think you may be allergic to any of the ingredients in Lactaid® products, check with your physician before using them.