Lactaid milk contains enzymes that break down lactose, the sugar in milk that breaks down into two other sugars, glucose and galactose. People with lactose intolerance don't produce enough lactase enzymes, which break down lactose in simple sugars so it can be digested and used in the body. Lactaid milk contains added lactase enzymes. You can drink Lactaid milk without harm even if you're not lactose intolerant.
Lactaid milk, produced by Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Nutritionals division, is regular milk with lactase enzymes obtained from non-human sources such as fungi and vitamin D3 added to it. Vitamin D3 is added because vitamin D helps your body absorbs calcium found in milk. Added lactase enzymes replace the enzymes missing in lactose intolerant people and have no side effects for people who already produce lactase.
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Lactaid milk stays fresh for about the same amount of time as regular milk or slightly longer, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders states. Lactaid milk may have a slightly sweeter taste than regular milk. Lactaid is safe for the whole family to drink, according to the Lactaid website.
Cells that line the small intestine produce the enzyme lactase. Lactase deficiency normally doesn't develop until late in the teen years or in early adulthood. Lactase production begins to decrease after age 2, when a child no longer relies on just milk for nutrition. In some cases, surgery, chemotherapy or diseases that affect the intestinal tract such as Crohn's disease can cause lactose intolerance in people who would not otherwise have it. Lactose intolerance is often genetic; certain racial groups such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans develop lactose intolerance more often than Caucasians of European descent. Because lactase is produced naturally by your body, drinking Lactaid containing lactase does not harm you.
Approximately 75 percent of the world's population has some degree of lactose intolerance, the Emerson-MIT Program states. The degree of lactase deficiency varies from person to person; some people can tolerate small amounts of regular dairy products, while others experience symptoms when they consume even a small amount of dairy. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include abdominal pain, bloating, cramps and diarrhea that start within 30 minutes to two hours after consuming dairy products.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.