Pharmacy Corner
Lactose Intolerance How much lactose do I need to have before I start feeling bad?

Some people will start showing stomach symptoms with even a tiny amount of dairy, like with a bite of cheese. Others can drink a full glass of milk without any symptoms. Again, everyone is different!

The Dietitians of Canada have developed a handy tool to see how much lactose is included in different milk products.1 As a general rule, the more lactose there is in an item, the more likely people with lactose intolerance will develop stomach symptoms when eating or drinking it.1

Did you know?

Did You Know?

One exception to this rule is yogurt; the bacteria that help to ferment it also produce lactase, so you may find that you can tolerate more yogurt than you’d otherwise expect.1,8

Some people may react to items that aren’t milk products. This is because many foods have small amounts of lactose added to them when they are made. Remember, lactose is a sugar, so it can be added to all sorts of products! Below is a list of some common foods that may contain lactose:8

  • Bread and flour mixes (ex. cake mix, muffin mix)
  • Cereals
  • Candies and chocolates
  • Protein powders
  • Salad dressings

This is not a complete list. If you’re sensitive to lactose, it’s always a good idea to check the ingredient list of the foods you eat. If you see any of the following words, there’s a chance the food item will trigger your intolerance:1

  • Lactose
  • Milk
  • Whey
  • Curd
Did you know?

Did You Know?

Food products aren’t the only things that have lactose added to them. Many medications (like birth control pills) use lactose as filler.8 Very little is added, so most people won’t react to it. If you’re having any digestive troubles after taking your medication, always check with your doctor or pharmacist!