Are you worried that you might have lactose intolerance, sensitivity or that you’re not getting enough calcium. If you’re like most Americans, you may not be getting enough calcium or Vitamin D in your diet for a variety of reasons, one of which might be that dairy causes stomach upset. If you’re like 25-30% of the population, you may have some sensitivities to lactose and have been avoiding it.
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
If you find that drinking a glass of milk causes bloating, diarrhea or gas, you may have a lactose intolerance or sensitivity and not be able to tolerate a full glass of milk. However, while milk has a lot of lactose, cheese and yogurt have less while still providing the protein and calcium your bones need to be healthy.
By avoiding all dairy, you may not be getting enough calcium. Since we know that we build most of our bone mass by our 20’s and that calcium is one of the most important building blocks, this is especially critical for children and teens.
The truth is, that many people are not completely lactose intolerant, but they are sensitive to lactose and need to find ways to get some dairy into their diet. The National Dairy Council has helpful tips to help you get more dairy and more calcium into your diet with helpful recipes.
Less Lactose in Cheese and Yogurt
In general most people need to get at least 3 servings of Calcium rich food each day to obtain the recommended 1000 to 1,200 mg/day. Before having a full 8 oz of milk, try yogurt and cheese to test your tummy’s sensitivity.
Here are some ideas to help:
- Try adding a 1/2 slice of cheese to a sandwich – by combining cheese with other food, you’re less likely to have a reaction
- Sprinkle a little cheese on a salad – the calcium is better absorbed with leafy greens, like spinach which also contains calcium
- Start low and slow, working your way up – Start with a spoonful of yogurt every day for 3 days, then gradually increase to 1/4 cup if you feel fine, eventually work your way up to 1/2 cup 1 -2 times/day.
If dairy isn’t working, then consider a multivitamin or a calcium supplement. Look for one that also has Vitamin D.