Dairy Sources for the Lactose Intolerant

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For those who are lactose intolerant, getting the recommended serving of dairy is a challenge. While supplements can help do the job, food can be another source.

Q: I’m lactose intolerant and getting in 4 daily servings of dairy is a challenge — I like milk and cheese, but it doesn’t like me! Being accustomed to fat-free milk, I don't like the sweet taste and texture of the Lactaid and soy milks. Will daily calcium supplements suffice (1000 mg) instead of 4 servings of dairy?

A: Yes. Calcium supplements will allow you to meet your calcium needs if you’re not getting enough calcium from food. For the best absorption, be sure to split the full 1000mg dosage into separate servings during the day (for example, one 500mg dose after lunch and one with dinner) — versus taking all 1000mg at the same time. Also, stick with brands that have added Vitamin D. Vitamin D allows calcium to do its job and is found in very few foods, so most people don’t get nearly enough.

And don’t give up on food sources. Here’s a list of calcium-rich foods that are low in lactose — or completely lactose free — that you can build into your diet.

Milk/yogurt alternatives:

  • Fortified soy, rice, or almond milk (all are lactose-free and you may prefer the taste of rice or almond milk over Lactaid or soy milks).
  • Fortified soy yogurt

Cheese you may tolerate:

  • Cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, provolone (They have 0-1 grams lactose per serving, and they’re very rich in calcium so eating just a 1-ounce portion can help boost your calcium intake without causing bloating or discomfort.)

Starchy beans:

  • Beans (especially white beans and soybeans)

Vegetables:

  • Collard Greens
  • Kale
  • Broccoli

Nuts:

  • Almonds

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