Lactose Intolerance and Osteoporosis
Bone Health Strategies
Calcium and vitamin D: A diet rich in calcium
and vitamin D is important for healthy bones. Besides low-fat dairy products,
good sources of calcium include dark green, leafy vegetables and
calcium-fortified foods and beverages. Many low-fat and low-sugar sources of
calcium are available. Also, supplements can help people with lactose
intolerance meet their daily requirements of calcium and other important
Studies have shown that people who have at least some
intestinal lactase can increase their tolerance to lactose by gradually
introducing dairy products into the diet. These people can often eat small
portions of diary products without developing symptoms. The key for them is to
consume small amounts of dairy products at a time so that there is enough
lactase available in the intestine to digest the lactose. When the lactose is
fully digested, symptoms do not develop.
Also, certain sources of dairy products may be easier for
people with lactose intolerance to digest. For example, ripened cheese may
contain up to 95 percent less lactose than whole milk. Yogurt containing active
cultures also lessens gastrointestinal symptoms. A variety of lactose-reduced
dairy products, including milk, cottage cheese, and processed cheese slices,
are also available. Lactose replacement pills and liquid are also available to
help with the digestion of dairy products.
Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption and
bone health. It is synthesized in the skin through exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin D is also found in some foods, such as fish oil, egg yolks, fortified
margarine, and breakfast cereals. While many people are able to obtain enough
vitamin D naturally, older individuals are often deficient in this vitamin due,
in part, to limited time spent outdoors. They may require vitamin D supplements
to ensure an adequate daily intake.
Exercise: Like muscle, bone is living tissue
that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. The best exercise for your
bones is weight-bearing exercise that forces you to work against gravity. Some
examples include walking, stair climbing, and dancing. Regular exercise can
help prevent bone loss and, by enhancing balance and flexibility, can reduce
the likelihood of falling and breaking a bone.