1. What Is Lactase?
Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down lactose (sugar found in milk) into glucose (simple sugar).
Where Is Lactase Produced?
Lactase is found in the small intestine of infant mammals for the sole purpose of metabolizing and utilizing the mother’s milk after birth. This enzyme is most active until the weaning process occurs, when the body starts to decrease its secretion. After weaning, the enzyme stops being produced in infants and on into adulthood for the natural progression to solid food. In humans, some still produce the enzyme well into adulthood.
What makes lactase in the body?
The enterocytes (cell membrane) lining the villi in the small intestine are responsible for producing this enzyme. Villi are finger like protrusions in the small intestine where food gets absorbed into the blood stream.
The cause of lactase deficiency is purely natural. The truth is that after age 4 our bodies stop producing lactase. Children are supposed to stop drinking milk after infancy and start eating solid food. This is the way our bodies were designed.
Some people of northern geographic locals have no problem digesting lactose even into adulthood while others mainly in tropical areas have a deficiency in lactase (lactose intolerant) and as a result, are subject to a variety of mostly gastrointestinal symptoms: irritable bowel syndrome, cramps, diarrhea, gas, bloating, congestion and itchy watery eyes just to name a few.
3. Lactase Enzyme Dietary Supplements
For those of us (about ¾ of the population on earth) who are deficient in lactase, there are alternatives if you wish to continue to eat the things you love (ice cream, cereal, cheese etc.).
A lactase enzyme supplement can be extremely helpful for the digestion of dairy products especially if you want to keep your current lifestyle. Try going out to eat and finding something on the menu that doesn’t have dairy products in it. These supplements come in a variety of forms such as:
• Complex (Lactase along with other enzymes)
5. Side Effects
Very few if any side effects have been tied to using this supplementation. A few allergic reactions have been reported from the medical use of lactase such as swelling around the mouth and throat area as well as rashes or hives. It is very safe to take.
Every supplement bottle has directions for dosage; however it is highly recommended you talk with a qualified health care professional before starting any nutritional supplementation.