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Lactose Intolerance Treatments


Though gene therapy has been suggested as a future treatment, there is currently no way to increase the body’s production of lactase. Treatment today focuses on managing symptoms. Experts counsel against complete elimination of dietary lactose, especially in children and adolescents, because milk and milk products provide sources of calcium and other food elements that are otherwise hard to replace. If complete elimination is chosen, then careful replacement of calcium is essential for good health.

Treatments include:

Dietary Changes

Dietary changes include:

  • Keep a food diary of what you eat and what the reaction is. Discuss the findings with your doctor or a dietitian.
  • Make gradual changes to your diet and record the results.
  • Try eating a smaller portion before giving up on a dairy product. Many people can tolerate 4-8 ounces of milk at a time and may have better tolerance for some of the following dairy products made from milk:
    • Ice cream
    • Sherbet
    • Cream
    • Butter
    • Cheese
    • Yogurt
  • Aged cheese and yogurt may be easier to tolerate than other dairy products.
  • Try milk that is modified so it contains less lactose.
  • Ask a dietitian for help choosing substitutes for dairy products or recommending supplements to ensure that you eat enough calcium.
  • Nondairy foods rich in calcium include:
    • Salmon
    • Sardines
    • Oysters
    • Collard greens
    • Broccoli
  • Read product labels because other foods containing lactose include:
    • Breads
    • Baked goods
    • Processed cereals
    • Instant potatoes and soups
    • Margarine
    • Nonkosher lunchmeats
    • Salad dressings
    • Candies
    • Pancake mixes
    • Frozen dinners
  • Other words that indicate lactose are:
    • Whey
    • Curds
    • Dry milk solids
    • Nonfat dry milk
    • Milk by-products
  • Be aware that some medications may contain small amounts of lactose.


Your doctor may recommend lactase enzymes if you can tolerate only small quantities of lactose. The enzyme supplements come in liquid and chewable form. A few drops of the liquid added to milk, which is allowed to sit overnight, can decrease the amount of lactose in the milk by 70% to 90%. Tablets are chewed or swallowed prior to eating foods that contain lactose.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2024 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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