Lactose maldigestion is not an impediment to the intake of 1500 mg calcium daily as dairy products

Fabrizis L. Suarez, Jacqueline Adshead, Julie K. Furne, Michael D. Levitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Background: A National Institutes of Health consensus conference concluded that a daily calcium intake of 1500 mg reduces the severity of osteoporosis. Because dairy products are the main natural source of dietary calcium, a diet providing 1500 mg Ca must contain large quantities of dairy products. However, it is widely believed that the lactose content of these products will not be tolerated by persons with lactose maldigestion (≃30% of the adult US population). Objective: We evaluated the symptoms of lactose maldigestion and digestion when the diet was supplemented with dairy products providing 1300 mg Ca/d. Design: Sixty-two women (31 with lactose maldigestion and 31 without) were studied in a double-blind, randomized protocol. Symptoms were compared during 1-wk periods when the diet was supplemented with 480 mL (2 cups) milk, 56 g cheese, and 240 mL yogurt provided as conventional products (34 g lactose/d) or as lactose-hydrolyzed products (2 g lactose/d). Results: Women who digested lactose reported no significant difference in symptoms between the 2 treatment periods. Women with lactose maldigestion reported significantly increased flatus frequency and subjective impression of rectal gas during the period of high lactose intake; however, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and the global perception of overall symptom severity were not significantly different between the 2 treatment periods. Conclusion: The symptoms resulting from lactose maldigestion are not a major impediment to the ingestion of a dairy-rich diet supplying ≃1500 mg Ca/d.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1118-1122
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1998


  • Calcium
  • Cheese
  • Dairy products
  • Lactose
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Lactose maldigestion
  • Milk
  • Women
  • Yogurt


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