Children with lactose intolerance missing key nutrients

September 7, 2006 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Children with lactose intolerance missing key nutrients

A review from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests children with lactose intolerance are missing out on essential nutrients by avoiding dairy products. The review also suggest children could benefit from probiotics and aged cheeses.

Lactose intolerance is a relative or absolute absence of the enzyme lactase in the small intestine, which prevents metabolism of lactose, the primary carbohydrate found exclusively in mammalian milk. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, and/or bloating after ingesting lactose-containing substances. The condition should not be confused with milk allergies, which is an immune response.

While many people may avoid dairy due to the uncomfortable symptoms, this has a negative effect on the intake of calcium and vitamin D in children and adolescents that has serious implications for bone health.

Since milk can cause problems, the reviewers recommended partially digested products, such as yoghurts and cheeses that contain live bacterial cultures, as well as pretreated milks. Research has shown that yogurts containing live cultures are well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance because the bacteria partially digest the lactose into glucose and galactose before the yogurt is consumed. Aged cheeses, such as Cheddar and Swiss may be better tolerated due to their lower lactose contents.

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