Lactase

woman with abdominal pain

What other names is Lactase known by?

Beta-galactosidase, Bêta-Galactosidase, Lactasa.

What is Lactase?

Lactase is an enzyme. Like other enzymes, it is needed for a specific biochemical reaction in the body. The biochemical reaction that involves lactase breaks down lactose, a sugar in milk and milk products. Some people's bodies do not make enough lactase, so they are not able to digest milk well. These people are said to have "lactase deficiency" and are called "lactose intolerant." They can take supplemental lactase to help them break down lactose and tolerate milk. In these people lactase can prevent symptoms of lactose intolerance including cramps, diarrhea, and gas.

Many health experts think it's important to treat lactose intolerance so people can consume milk and milk products. Milk is a major source of calcium, which is needed for strong bones. People who do not get enough milk are more likely than other people to develop weak bones (osteoporosis).

Likely Effective for...

  • Preventing symptoms of lactose intolerance, such as cramps, diarrhea and gas, when milk products or lactose are taken by people with lactose intolerance. Lactase can be taken before consuming lactose or it can be added to milk.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Digestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

How does Lactase work?

People who are lactose intolerant have trouble digesting the milk sugar lactose. Lactase is an enzyme that splits the milk sugar lactose, to produce the sugars glucose and galactose.

Are there safety concerns?

Lactase seems to be safe for most people. It is an FDA-approved, nonprescription product available in the US. There are no reported side effects.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of lactase during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Dosing considerations for Lactase.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For lactose intolerance: the typical dose of lactase is 6000-9000 IU tablets chewed and swallowed at the start of a meal that contains lactose. 2000 IU of the solution added to 500 mL of milk immediately before drinking it has also been used.
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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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