Lactose intolerance

Complications of lactose intolerance

Dairy products such as milk are an important part of a healthy diet. They contain calcium, protein and vitamins such as vitamins A, B12 and D. For adults, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium is 700mg.

Lactose is also important because it helps your body to absorb a number of other minerals, including magnesium and zinc. These vitamins and minerals are important for the development of strong, healthy bones.

If you are lactose intolerant, getting the RDA of important vitamins and minerals can prove difficult. This may put you at increased risk of developing the following conditions.

  • Osteopenia, a condition where you have a very low bone-mineral density. If osteopenia is not treated, it can develop into osteoporosis.
  • Osteoporosis , a condition that causes your bones to become thin and weak. If you have osteoporosis, your risk of getting fractures and broken bones is increased.
  • Malnutrition , which occurs when the food that you eat does not give you the nutrients that are essential for a healthy functioning body. If you are malnourished, wounds can take longer to heal and you may start to feel tired or depressed.
  • Weight loss. Excessive weight loss can damage your health, and it can also lead to conditions such as osteoporosis.

If you are concerned that dietary restrictions are putting you at risk of complications, consult with a dietitian. They can advise you on your diet and whether you require food supplements.

Your GP should be able to refer you to a NHS dietitian free of charge. Alternatively, you can contact a private dietician. The British Dietetic Association has information on how to find a private dietitian.

Last updated: 11 February 2014