Digestive enzymes are catalysts that enable the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in our diets, liberating the macronutrients within for energy metabolism. Lactase is one such enzyme that is naturally produced in the small intestine and capable of breaking down dairy-derived sugars into their core constituents: the simple sugars glucose and galactose.**
People who are lactose intolerant, however, have a hard time fully digesting the enzyme and may have a lactase deficiency. Many people start losing lactase when they enter their teens. Roughly 65% of all adults have a diminished ability to digest lactose, while those with some degree of lactose intolerance is believed to number 30 million over the age of 20.
In those who are lacking the lactase enzyme in sufficient amounts, consumption of dairy may lead to symptoms of intolerance including gas, bloating, diarrhea, stomach cramping and general digestive distress. While lactose is easy to identify in milk products, it is also often hidden in processed foods that may include finished baked goods, baking mixes, margarine, processed meats, protein powders, breakfast cereals and more. Lactose may also be found in some nutritional supplements and even some pharmaceutical drugs.
Many can manage their symptoms with dietary changes that limit or eliminate their dairy intake, as well as identifying and eliminating hidden sources of lactose by closely examining food labels. Interestingly, lactose-free dairy products on the market are made by adding lactase to dairy, so it is already broken down into glucose and galactose at the time of consumption. For those with lactose sensitivities who still want to enjoy dairy foods, lactase enzyme products can provide digestive support.** Lactase products are taken when dairy is consumed to aid in the digestion and breakdown of lactose in food.**
Lactase Enzyme Products
Lactase products are often sourced from Aspergillus oryzae, a traditional Asian fungus that is fermented and used in foods including soy sauce, tofu and sake.
Directions for Use
Quality lactase supplements will be measured in FCC units (Food Chemical Codex) which rates purity and effectiveness. A single serving will typically supply around 6,000 FCC units. For the best relief from occasional stomach upset, lactase should be taken immediately before consuming foods, supplements or drugs that contain lactose. Discuss lactase enzyme supplementation with your health professional prior to use.