One of the biggest concerns for people who are lactose-intolerant is making sure they get enough of the nutrients found in milk products, especially calcium. Calcium is especially important for women, because it keeps bones strong and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. There are many nondairy foods that contain calcium, including:
- Broccoli, okra, kale, collards, and turnip greens.
- Canned sardines, tuna, and salmon.
- Calcium-fortified juices and cereals.
- Calcium-fortified soy products such as soy milk, tofu, and soybeans.
To absorb calcium, your body needs vitamin D. Most people get enough vitamin D by being out in the sun for short periods of time each day. Vitamin D is also found in fortified orange juice, fortified soy milk, oily fish (such as salmon), egg yolks, and liver.
If you don't know whether you are getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients found in milk products, such as magnesium, potassium, protein, and riboflavin, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend that you take a calcium supplement or meet with a registered dietitian to make sure you are getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals.
You should also talk with your doctor if your symptoms do not go away with treatment, if they get worse, or if you have other symptoms, such as a fever, chills, or severe belly pain or vomiting.
What to think about
Lactose intolerance in newborns of normal birth weight and in babies is rare. But if your child has symptoms of lactose intolerance, see your doctor right away. Diarrhea is very dangerous because it can lead to dehydration, a serious problem that requires immediate attention.
Babies who are only fed breast milk do not develop lactose intolerance, because breast milk contains lactase, the enzyme that helps digest milk sugar. If your baby is formula-fed and develops lactose intolerance, you can switch to a formula made without lactose. In rare cases, a baby may have a reaction to the proteins in milk, which is a different condition called sensitivity to milk protein.