Lactase: is it a remedy? See what it is and how to use it correctly

Lactose intolerance is a very common condition – most people have colleagues or relatives who pass away from cheese and milk.

In general, those who are diagnosed with intolerance must, in fact, stop consuming any product that contains lactose, that is, milk sugar. However, there is another option for those who want to consume any of these foods: the enzyme lactase.

As well as a temporary action supplement, it allows the body to digest a cheese or a fruit smoothie with milk without causing the annoying symptoms of intolerance.

What is the enzyme lactase?

Lactase is an enzyme produced in the intestine, more specifically in the intestinal mucosa. It is responsible for the breakdown of milk sugar, which is lactose. Thus, it does enzymatic hydrolysis, which breaks down lactose into galactose and glucose (basically, they are simpler carbohydrates ).

This degradation allows the correct digestion of sugar. However, when some factor prevents the production of the enzyme lactase by the body, this hydrolysis is impaired, the lactose present in the food remains undigested in the intestine, reaching the large intestine.

In this part of the organ, fermentation occurs by the bacteria naturally present in it. The result is the production of lactic acid and gases . This causes an increase in osmotic pressure within the intestine, that is, water retention occurs. All of this generates the unpleasant symptoms of lactose intolerance, such as diarrhea , colic and abdominal bloating.

There are some factors that lead to a deficiency or total absence of enzyme production of lactase, which are:

  • Congenital deficiency: babies are already born without the ability to degrade lactose because they do not produce lactase. It is a less common picture, and the symptoms appear at an early age, as soon as breast milk also contains lactose, which is bad for the child;
  • Enzymatic decrease secondary to intestinal diseases: any damage or intestinal alteration can lead to a temporary or permanent decrease in lactase production;
  • Primary or ontogenetic deficiency: it is the most common type, as soon as naturally, throughout the life, there is a reduction in the production of lactase by the body.

What is the role of lactase in the body?

Briefly, lactase is a protein with enzymatic function, which is naturally produced in the intestinal mucosa, which promotes the degradation of milk sugar (lactose) and, therefore, participates in the digestive process.

It is worth remembering that lactose, popularly called milk sugar, is a substance composed of simpler carbohydrates, galactose and glucose.

For the body to be able to properly use the nutrients in the food, it needs to break down the components into simpler units. In relation to lactose, it is exactly the enzyme lactase that does this.

It is natural that, throughout life, the body’s enzyme production is reduced – which explains why lactose intolerance is quite common in elderly people. However, those who are younger are not free of the condition, as studies and statistics from the Ministry of Health point out that about 70% of the population has some degree of lactose intolerance.

However, not always having a reduction in the production of lactase means a marked intolerance. There is research that suggests that, in general, these 70% of the population with some degree of intolerance can consume 12g of lactose in a single intake and 20g to 24g throughout the day without suffering any discomfort.

Often, people can even eat some dairy products without suffering any discomfort – this is called tolerance, which varies from person to person.

That is why, too, two people with the diagnosis will have different intensity of symptoms in front of the same foods.

What is pharmacy lactase? Is it a medicine?

Lactase is not a medicine, as it does not treat the condition of lactose intolerance. However, it temporarily restores lactase that the body does not produce, allowing the person to eat or ingest food containing milk. On average, it is active in the body between 3 and 5 hours, having no effect after that.

The use of this supplement is called, by specialists, enzymatic replacement with exogenous lactase. Today, in the market, there are several brand options and even presentations (such as capsules or sachets).

The nutritional supplement is a good ally for lactose intolerants, but before consuming it is essential to talk to specialists, as it is necessary to adjust the dosage – and this depends on the degree of intolerance, the amount of lactose in the food and, also, it is necessary to give attention to the amount of enzyme contained in the product.

This is because there are people with high sensitivity and others who can even eat a cup of yogurt without having any symptoms. There are also products with high lactose levels (like ice cream), while others have lower levels (like Parmesan cheese).

So, only those who can help to define exactly the right amount of lactase are professionals in nutrition or nutrology and endocrinologists.

Powdered lactase

Powdered lactase usually comes in small sachets, which allow a more accurate dosage of the amount of the supplement. To use it, just dilute it in liquids and ingest it before starting to eat, but it can be mixed with the recipe or deposited directly on the food (pizza, bread, yogurt, among others). It does not alter the taste and is very practical.

Lactase in capsules or tablets

The lactase in capsules is quite versatile, as soon as it is enough to consume the sufficient amount of the supplement, according to the medical indication.

The capsules can be taken with water, just before meals. The tablet version, in addition to the traditional ingestion, can be diluted in water and ingested or mixed with the recipe or liquid food (such as yogurt or coffee with milk).

However, it is always worth checking the brand label for the suggested use.

Is lactase a remedy for lactose intolerance?

No! Lactase is a temporary-acting enzyme supplement. This means that it has a short duration and helps in the degradation process of the lactose ingested in the space of time (usually between 2 and 5 hours) after using it. However, it is not a treatment, in fact, for lactose intolerance nor is it able to stimulate the body to produce the enzyme again.

When to take lactose?

Whenever the food has lactose content, it is important to take the lactase supplement to avoid adverse symptoms of poor digestion. In general, the advice is to take it just before you start eating or a few minutes before (about 15) – it depends on the brand and the medical or nutritional advice.

In addition, each organism can adapt better in a different way: it is necessary to feel a more complete effect if you use the sachet deposited in the food. Other people may have better digestion if they consume a few minutes before starting a meal.

Can you take lactase every day?

The lactase brands indicate that there are no contraindications for the daily intake of the enzyme, but it is always worth consulting specialists, who will take a number of factors into account, especially the clinical history of each patient and the adaptation process.

In general, the guideline is to use a maximum of 1000mg of lactase a day, which is equivalent to 5 capsules of 200mg / 1000UI.

How much lactase to use?

The first information you need to have is about your own intolerance. There are people with low sensitivity, which makes it possible to ingest some amount of lactose without showing symptoms.

Then, you need to know how much lactose is in the food, as there are some with high levels and others with low.

Finally, you need to know what dosage of the lactase enzyme you are taking – some contain 10,000 FCC, 9,000 FCC, 5,000 FCC or less. In general, 14,000 UL (which is a unit of measure) is equivalent to 1g of lactase.

In general, the higher the dosage, the more lactose you can consume. But a 10,000 FCC pill is enough for complete meals, like ice cream, pizza or chocolate.

Price and where to buy

Lactase can be easily purchased from physical pharmacies and online, platforms such as Consulta Remédios and home of natural products.

Options include *:

  • Latolise box with 30 pills (10,000 FCC): about R $ 70;
  • Lacday with 30 dispersible tablets (10,000 FCC): about R $ 58;
  • Perlatte with 30 pills (9,000 FCC): about R $ 68;
  • Paralac box with 30 pills (9,000 FCC): about R $ 90;
  • LacLev with 30 chewable tablets (9000FCC): about R $ 52.

* Prices consulted in July 2020. Prices may change.

Contraindications

People with diabetes , galactosemia or allergies to components of the formula are contraindicated to use. In addition, it is always important to talk to doctors and nutritionists before making use.

I took lactase and got sick anyway: can it not work?

Several factors can prevent the enzyme from having the full effect, such as the condition of the intestine itself. If intestinal health is not going well, it can affect good digestion as a whole.

In addition, it is necessary to pay attention to the correct use of lactase, observing if the enzyme dosage is adequate for the amount of lactose consumed. Also, it is worth noting the organism’s response to brand changes, as there may be greater adaptation to some.

Industrial lactase: how is lactose removed from milk?

Those who have lactose intolerance have probably consumed some product, such as milk or yogurt, without lactose. However, it is interesting to note that the packaging always contains the “contains milk” alert. This information is essential because the products without lactose or with low content go through industrial processes of deactivation – basically, it is the addition of the enzyme lactase to the product.

In other words, it continues to contain milk, but what should happen there in the intestine (the degradation of lactose) occurs in industry, as an external digestion.

That is why, too, it is common to notice a sweeter taste in these foods, because glucose (the simplest sugar that makes up lactose) is sweeter.

But then, why inform that the product contains milk? Because some people have a condition other than lactose intolerance, which is milk allergy . For this reason, companies need to notify, on the label, his presence, as soon as, even without lactose, it continues to be harmful to those who are allergic.


Having to make changes in diet is not always easy, especially when this need arises from some health condition. However, to facilitate the adaptation and well-being of people who discover lactose intolerance, there are options for enzyme supplementation of lactase.

With a pill or sachet, in a simple way, it is possible to eat foods with lactose, without this triggering the discomfort and discomfort associated with poor digestion of lactose.

Want to know more tips for a good diet and a balanced life? Keep an eye on the Healthy Minute!

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