Calcium for the Lactose Intolerant: 3 Tips


Are you one of the many people who suffer from gas, bloating or diarrhea when you eat dairy products? Many people do not have the enzyme lactase which is needed to break down lactose, the naturally occurring sugar that’s in milk. This undigested lactose is responsible for the symptoms of lactose intolerance. 

The simplest solution is to avoid dairy products. But in the US dairy products are the primary source of calcium, a nutrient that is essential for healthy bones and teeth. 70% of the calcium in our diets comes from dairy products.

How can you get enough calcium in your diet without feeling uncomfortable?

1.       Use foods such as orange juice, soy or almond milk, or cereals that have been fortified with calcium.

2.       Increase your intake of plant based calcium sources. Kale, broccoli and bok choy are high in easily absorbed calcium. (Some high calcium vegetables such as spinach and sweet potatoes are high in oxalic acid. This binds to the calcium so it isn’t absorbed by your body.) Legumes such as black beans and nuts such as almonds are also sources of calcium.

3.       Experiment with using only small amounts of dairy products at a time to see if they are tolerated. Many people can tolerate yogurt or aged cheeses because the lactose content is lower than that of milk.

©2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

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