Some of us don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which helps break down the sugar (lactose) found in dairy foods (and certain other foods; see below).

Do you have gas, bloating, cramps, and/or diarrhea after eating dairy foods or drinking milk? If so, you may be lactose intolerant. How do you know for sure?


Your health care professional can help you determine this.

Tips for getting enough calcium if you are lactose intolerant (or prefer to avoid milk):

1. Eat broccoli, collard greens, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, and bok choy: good sources of calcium.

2. Calcium-fortified soy products (soy milk, tofu, and soy yogurt) are nondairy sources of calcium.

3. Calcium-fortified juices and cereals are also available. It’s a good idea to stick to only a small glass (about 3/4 cup) of juice a day, so you can’t rely on juice for all your calcium.

Ask your health care professional if he or she recommends that you take a calcium supplement. Or maybe he or she will suggest that you add a little extra lactase to your meals. Lactase can be purchased without a prescription. It comes in liquid, chewable, or capsule form. If your health care professional recommends it, take a lactase tablet before drinking milk or eating other dairy products, add lactase drops to milk, or buy milk that has been treated with the enzyme.

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