Lactase is a digestive enzyme that helps the body break down lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Lactase is produced naturally by the body, but some people don’t produce enough of it to digest lactose properly. This can cause symptoms such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Lactase supplements are available over the counter and can be helpful for people who have trouble digesting lactose.
What Lactase Is
Lactase is an enzyme produced in the small intestine that aids with the digestion of lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. Lactose intolerant individuals do not produce enough lactase and, therefore, cannot break down lactose properly, leading to uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Some people naturally produce lower levels of lactase, while others may see a decrease in production as they age. Supplementing with additional lactase can help those with lactose intolerance enjoy dairy products without discomfort. It should be noted that although lactase supplements can improve digestion in those with lactose intolerance, they do not cure the condition or increase tolerance to excessive levels of lactose. As always, consult with your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.
Health Benefits Of Lactase
For those with lactose intolerance, taking a lactase supplement can help improve digestion and reduce uncomfortable symptoms. Additionally, there are several health benefits associated with taking a lactase supplement. Here are some of these benefits.
Helps Digest Lactose In Dairy Products
Lactase plays a crucial role in digestion. Its primary function is to break down lactose, a complex sugar found in dairy products. Without sufficient lactase production, individuals may experience discomfort and bloat after consuming dairy. Lactase acts on the bond between glucose and galactose molecules in lactose, breaking them apart for easier digestion.
In some individuals, particularly those of European descent, lactase production declines as we age. This leads to what is known as lactose intolerance. However, milk and other dairy products can still be safely consumed through the use of supplemental lactase enzymes or by choosing dairy products that have already been treated with lactase. Thanks to the work of this essential enzyme, we can enjoy the nutrient-rich benefits of dairy without digestive discomfort.
Aids With Calcium Absorption
If you have ever experienced discomfort after consuming dairy products, you may be lactose intolerant. This means that your body lacks the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down the sugar lactose in dairy products. Lactase supplements can help alleviate these symptoms by providing the necessary enzyme to digest lactose. In turn, individuals with lactose intolerance can enjoy dairy products without discomfort.
It is important to note that these supplements do not cure lactose intolerance, and those who are sensitive to dairy should still exercise moderation in their consumption. However, for those who wish to continue enjoying dairy products, lactase supplements provide a helpful solution. So the next time you reach for a glass of milk or a slice of cheese, consider adding a dose of lactase for optimal digestion.
Reduces The Risk Of Osteoporosis
The benefits of dairy products often come with a downside – the lactose they contain can cause digestive discomfort in individuals lacking the enzyme lactase. But what many may not realize is that reducing lactose intake can also increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Lactose aids in calcium absorption, and without it, individuals are at greater risk of calcium deficiency and weakened bones.
However, taking a lactase supplement before consuming dairy products can greatly reduce the discomfort associated with lactose intolerance while still allowing for proper calcium absorption and decreased risk of osteoporosis. It’s crucial to consult with your physician before starting any new supplement regimen. But for those with impaired lactase activity, a simple pill could provide both gastrointestinal relief and bone health benefits.
Supports A Healthy Immune System
The health of your immune system is largely dependent on the balance of bacteria in your gut. Lactase, an enzyme found in dairy products, helps maintain this balance by breaking down lactose, a sugar found in milk. Without lactase, lactose remains undigested and is instead converted into lactic acid by intestinal bacteria, leading to discomfort and bloating. The conversion of lactose also increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut, improving overall digestive health and strengthening the immune system.
So for those looking to support their immune system and keep their digestion running smoothly, incorporating appropriate levels of lactase into their diet is essential. It’s vital to note that everyone’s tolerance for lactose varies, and some individuals may need to avoid dairy altogether. Additionally, supplements are available for those who struggle with digesting dairy but still want the benefits of lactase. Overall, maintaining a balanced diet, including sources of lactase, can lead to improved immune health and better overall digestion.
When considering lactase dosage, it is critical to take into account factors such as age, weight, and individual tolerance. Generally speaking, adults may take one to three lactase tablets with their first dairy-containing meal of the day. However, for infants and children under the age of four, it is recommended to consult with a physician before giving lactase supplements.
As with any medication or supplement, it is best to start with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed to assess tolerance and avoid side effects. Additionally, it is vital to note that lactase supplements should not be used as a substitute for eliminating dairy from the diet; they are meant to simply aid digestion when dairy cannot be avoided. When used properly, lactase supplements can make consuming dairy much more comfortable and enjoyable.
Risks And Side Effects Of Lactase
When taken as a supplement to break down lactose, the enzyme lactase carries some risks and side effects. One potential concern is that it may interact with certain medications, including antibiotics and immunosuppressants. It can also cause stomach discomfort and bloating in some individuals.
In rare cases, long-term use of lactase supplements may lead to allergic reactions or increased levels of galactose in the body. It is necessary to consult with a healthcare provider before taking this supplement, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking any other medications. Additionally, it’s vital to follow dosage instructions carefully to avoid potential adverse effects.
Overall, while lactase can be useful for individuals with lactose intolerance, it’s crucial to educate yourself on the possible risks and side effects before starting supplementation. Some people may find that making dietary changes, such as limiting dairy consumption or opting for lactose-free options, is enough to manage their symptoms without the need for supplements. As always, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet or supplement regimen.
Lactase Drug Interactions
When taking lactase supplements, it is critical to be aware of any potential drug interactions. Lactase enzymes break down lactose in the digestive tract and can also potentially break down certain medications. This could lead to reduced effectiveness of the medication or unexpected side effects.
For example, lactase supplements should not be taken with antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin. It is recommended to take these medications at least two hours before or after taking lactase supplements. Lactase enzymes may also interact with blood thinners, such as warfarin, so it is important to closely monitor blood clotting time when taking both medications. As always, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen and inform them of all medications and supplements you are currently taking. By being aware of these potential drug interactions, you can ensure the safe and effective use of lactase supplements.
How To Supplement With Lactase
If you have difficulty digesting lactose, a common milk sugar, supplementing with lactase may help improve your digestion and reduce unpleasant symptoms, like bloating, gas, and stomach pain. Before adding any supplements to your diet, however, it is critical to speak with your healthcare provider to make sure that they are safe and appropriate for you. When taking lactase supplements, start with smaller doses and gradually increase until you reach the recommended dose indicated on the packaging.
It is also important to take the supplement close to when you consume dairy products for it to be effective. While taking lactase supplements may not eliminate symptoms, many people find that it greatly improves their ability to digest dairy products. Remember that every person’s body is unique, so what works for some may not work for others. As always, listen to your body and adjust accordingly.
When it comes to digestive enzymes, lactase is one of the most popular and well-studied options. Lactase supplements can be an effective way to improve lactose digestion in people with lactose intolerance. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and side effects before starting supplementation. Speak with your healthcare provider to see if taking lactase supplements is right for you. There’s no better time to start than now!