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Ask an Expert - Lactose Intolerance

My daughter has lactose intolerance. UIs that the same as a food allergy? Can she have any dairy products?
Ask an Expert - Lactose Intolerance

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By Yeong Rhee, Ph.D., L.R.D., Associate Professor,
Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences, NDSU

No, lactose intolerance is not the same as a food allergy. Lactose intolerance is caused by the deficiency of the milk sugar digesting enzyme (lactase), while food allergy involves immune responses.

Your daughter cannot digest the sugar in the milk adequately. She may experience the following after consumption of milk or dairy products (greater than 12 grams of lactose, or about 1 cup of milk):

  • Bloating
  • Flatulence (Gas)
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea

To avoid discomfort, most people with lactose intolerance need to avoid milk-containing products such as the following:

  • Milk
  • Ice cream
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Chocolate drink mixes such as Ovaltine or Carnation Instant Breakfast
  • Any desserts or food prepared with milk or dairy products, such as pudding or custard
  • Any sauces and salad dressing containing milk or dairy products

However, some people with lactose intolerance may tolerate smaller amounts of milk with meals. Most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate the following dairy products:

  • Aged cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Lactaid milk
  • Any dairy products with the addition of lactase, such as Lac-Aid or Dairy Ease, which are available at any drug store.
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