Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

When you read advice about how to get more calcium in your diet, it usually starts with “eat plenty of dairy products.” But what if you’re lactose-intolerant?

michael smith

People who are lactose-intolerant cannot properly digest lactose, a sugar that’s found in milk and milk products. There are varying degrees of lactose intolerance, and some people may be able to tolerate small amounts of lactose-containing products. This is different from an allergy to cow’s milk, which usually appears in babyhood and has to do with your immune system. Lactose intolerance is more common in adults and has to do with the inability to digest lactose.

How can you tell if you’re lactose-intolerant? A doctor should make the diagnosis, but you might suspect lactose intolerance if you have some of the following symptoms within an hour or two of eating milk products:

So what foods can you swap for traditional dairy products if you have lactose intolerance?

  • Trade regular dairy milk for lactose-free and lactose-reduced milk or other non-dairy milk products like soy or almond milk.
  • Look for yogurt with live/active bacterial cultures. The digestive process with these cultures lowers the lactose content that actually enters your system, so you may tolerate it better.
  • Try harder, aged cheeses (like pecorino and Parmesan), which have less lactose than regular cheeses. A hint: look at “sugars” on the nutrition label. If the number is 0, then there’s no lactose in the cheese.
  • Switch your bowl of ice cream for sorbet or fruit bars, which should contain only fruit, water, and (non-lactose) sugar.
  • Eat non-dairy sources of calcium to keep your bones strong, like salmon, and dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, as well as fortified foods like cereals and orange juice.

To combat a possible lack of dietary calcium, you might need a calcium supplement, ideally with magnesium and vitamin D, to make sure that you're getting enough of this vital nutrient. However, don't start taking a supplement without consulting your doctor.