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Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011;67:161-71. doi: 10.1159/000325582. Epub 2011 Feb 16.

Lactose intolerance: an unnecessary risk for low bone density.

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  • 1Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.


The potential for lactose intolerance causes 25-50 million Americans and an unknown number of people around the world to avoid milk. Milk avoidance is a significant risk factor for low bone density. Individuals who avoid milk, due to intolerance or learned aversion, consume significantly less calcium and have poorer bone health and probable higher risk of osteoporosis. Lactose intolerance is easily managed by: (1) regular consumption of milk that adapts the colon bacteria and facilitates digestion of lactose; (2) consumption of yogurts and cheeses and other dairy foods low in lactose; consumption of dairy foods with meals to slow transit and maximize digestion, and use of lactose-digestive aids. As dairying spreads around the world to new markets and dairy foods become the dominant source of calcium in these markets, the potential for lactose intolerance will grow. Management of lactose intolerance globally will require both education and product development.

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