Every day I talk to women and families about keeping bones and bodies strong with protein, calcium and other essential nutrients like magnesium and Vitamin K. Foods made from dairy naturally contains all of these essential nutrients, with no added sugars or ingredients which makes it a great choice.

We need calcium every day

Most people are surprised to learn that they need calcium every day. That’s right, our bodies do not store calcium and can only get it from what we eat. Though green leafy vegetables have some calcium, you’d need at least 4 cups of broccoli to equal 1 glass of milk. 

When there’s a lactose sensitivity

But what can people do to get enough daily calcium if they have a lactose sensitivity or intolerance. Contrary to what many people believe only a very small percentage of people actually have a complete lactose intolerance. 

What is Lactose sensitivity? 

Lactose sensitivity occurs when a person does not have the ability to digest the lactose, which are the sugars in milk and other dairy products. This can lead to gas, bloating, cramping and discomfort. People with a lactose sensitivity may not produce enough of an enzyme known as Lactase which aides in digesting lactose found in dairy products.

Can you eat Pizza?

This may sound like an odd question, but there’s very little lactose in mozzarella cheese, which is what’s used on pizza. What that means, is if you can tolerate pizza, then you are not lactose intolerant and may be sensitive to lactose.

Even when there’s a concern about lactose sensitivity, most people can enjoy small amounts of lactose. 

Who is most likely to have a lactose sensitivity

While the exact percentage of people who have a lactose sensitivity is not known, what is clear is that certain ethnic groups are more likely to be sensitive to the lactose in dairy products, including people of Hispanic and African-American origin.

Having Dairy when there’s a Lactose Sensitivity

Many patients are surprised to learn that even when lactose sensitivity might be present there are many ways to continue enjoying the yummy taste of real dairy and still get all of the essential nutrients.

Ten Essential Nutrients are Important for Every Family Member

  1. Dairy foods are an important source of 9 essential nutrients including:
  2. Calcium – Essential for bones and muscle function 
  3. Vitamin D – Helps maintain healthy bones and teeth as well as acting as a powerful anti-oxidant. Also helps with mood
  4. Protein – An essential nutrient for every aspect of our health and well being
  5. Phosphorus – Helps our bones, teeth and muscles stay healthy and helps with energy metabolism
  6. Vitamin A – Retinol. Helps maintain healthy vision, keeps our eyes healthy and maintains healthy bones and teeth. 
  7. Riboflavin – Vitamin B 2, Is essential for converting the foods we eat into usable energy.
  8. Vitamin B 12 – Aids in all aspects of how your brain and nervous system functions. It also helps make red blood cells and regulates energy production.
  9. Pantothenic Acid – Vitamin B 5, Helps in all aspects of metabolism and helps make red blood cells
  10. Niacin – Vitamin B 3, Helps lower cholesterol, is an anti-oxidant and aids in brain function

How can people enjoy dairy with a lactose sensitivity? 

The whole family can enjoy the delicious taste of real dairy and get the benefit of the 9 essential nutrients without the worry of tummy troubles by choosing foods with very low levels of lactose. Here’s how: 

Each of the following types of cheese contains less than 1 gram of lactose per ounce:

  • Mozzarella
  • Swiss
  • Cotija
  • Queso Anejo
  • Cheddar

What about milk? 

The lactose content for individual milk products is the same, no matter the fat content. For example, 1 cup of milk has 12 grams of lactose, regardless if it’s whole, 2%, low-fat or fat-free:

  • Use a variety of glass sizes and pour a little or a lot of milk for everyone at the table
  • Use Lactaid milk for those family members who have a lactose sensitivity because it contains absolutely no lactose
  • Stir chocolate into Lactaid or other milk to help make the taste appealing to different taste preferences
  • Make milk part of every after school snack

What about Yogurts?

The good news is that that while yogurt has some lactose, the live and active cultures with lactobacilli, which help reduce the lactose can help make it easier to digest lactose.  People with a lactose sensitivity can often enjoy 1/3 to ½ cup of yogurt. 

What about Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Moms who are pregnant or those who are breastfeeding need at least 3 servings of calcium rich food each day. 

If you’re lactose sensitive, do choose mozzarella and cheddar cheese sticks, yogurt and lactaid milk. 

If you’re not able to have dairy, then talk to your health care provider about taking a calcium supplement with Vitamin D for both you and your baby. 

Disclosure: I have been working with the California Milk Advisory Board for many years to help provide information about the benefits of dairy. I do not receive any compensation for blogs.

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