Galactosemia is an enzyme defect in galactose metabolism. Galactose is a simple sugar. Lactose, which is found in milk products, is the predominant source of galactose. Galactosemia is an inherited condition, and occurs in one out of every 60,000 Caucasian births. If a newborn with galactosemia is given breast milk or formula, symptoms include vomiting, jaundice, failure to gain weight and possibly, sepsis. After diagnosis, a life-long galactose-free diet will need to be followed.
Following a galactose-free diet is not harmful. However, you must make sure to obtain the nutrients found in dairy products through other foods. Calcium and vitamin D must be present in your diet. Calorie and protein vitamin needs for those with galactosemia are the same as for other individuals. Complications may occur in some individuals. These include developmental delays, especially speech, growth failure and ovarian failure in women.
Ingredients with Galactose
If you have galactosemia, you will need to avoid all foods with galactose. Ingredients to avoid include butter, calcium caseinate, nonfat milk, dry milk, milk protein, hydrolyzed protein made from casein or whey, lactalbumin, milk and milk solids, organ meats, sodium caseinate, whey and whey solids, buttermilk and solids, casein, cream, lactose, milk chocolate, cheese, sour cream and yogurt. Avoid products that state "may contain milk."
You can eat any foods if they are not prepared with ingredients that contain lactose. You can have nondairy creamers, nondairy whipped toppings, almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, soy yogurt, soy cheese, soy-based sour cream, soy ice cream, rice milk ice cream and almond milk cheese. Sorbet, fruit ices and gelatin are acceptable to eat. Coffee, tea, vegetables and oils from nuts or seeds are also recommended.
Calcium and Vitamin D Foods
If you have galactosemia, you need to make sure to incorporate other calcium-rich and vitamin D foods into your diet. Examples include sardines, canned salmon, calcium-fortified tofu, shellfish, turnip greens, collard greens, kale, dried beans, broccoli, calcium-fortified orange juice and soy milk, blackstrap molasses and almonds. Very few foods are naturally good sources of vitamin D. Those that are include fish liver oils and the flesh of fatty fish. Soy milk, ready-to-eat cereals and orange juices may be fortified with vitamin D. Sun exposure can also help you to meet your vitamin D needs.
- "Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology"; Marcia Nelms, et al.; 2007.
- PudMed Health; Galactosemia; 2009.
- "American Dietetic Association's Nutrition Care Manual"; Galactose-Controlled Nutrition Therapy; American Dietetic Association; 2009.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements; Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D.