Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. It is a disaccharide, meaning it is made up of two simple sugars – glucose and galactose – that are linked together. Lactose is also sometimes called “milk sugar.”
In the human body, lactose is broken down into its component sugars by an enzyme called lactase, which is produced in the small intestine. The glucose and galactose are then absorbed into the bloodstream and used for energy.
Some people are unable to produce enough lactase, which can lead to lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a common condition in which the body has difficulty digesting lactose, leading to symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain after consuming dairy products.
Lactose is also commonly used as an ingredient in processed foods, including baked goods, candy, and medication tablets. In these products, lactose is often used as a filler or binder to help with texture and consistency.
Overall, lactose is a natural and common sugar that is found in milk and dairy products, and is widely used in food and pharmaceutical products. However, for individuals who are lactose intolerant, consuming lactose-containing products can cause discomfort and should be avoided or limited.