Lactose monohydrate is a disaccharide contained in the composition of milk.
It is known by most people as milk sugar.
Through its chemical features, this sugar is very suitable for being compressed and powdered. This ensures that lactose monohydrate is used frequently in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
You can wonder whether lactose monohydrate is safe because of its wide range of uses. In this article, you will learn about the uses of this sugar derivative, its possible side effects and more.
What Is Lactose Monohydrate?
Lactose monohydrate is obtained by crystallizing lactose.
Chemically, lactose is composed of the combination of two simple sugars called glucose and galactose. It may have two different forms, alpha-lactose and beta-lactose, due to the different chemical arrangement of the molecules in its structure.
When producing lactose monohydrate, the alpha-lactose form is used.
In the dairy industry, crystallization is an important separation process used in the refining of lactose. The crystallization process has two stages. First, crystals are obtained by applying very low temperatures to alfa-lactose. Then, the process is completed by removing the moisture from the environment.
The product obtained after the process is white or pale yellow powder.
What Are The Uses Of Lactose Monohydrate?
Lactose monohydrate can be used for many different purposes in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
The main advantages of this sugar compound are its long shelf life and mixing with other ingredients easily. In addition, it has a wide usage area due to its sweet taste.
There isn’t this sugar derivative on supermarket shelves in the form of a product. It is used only as industrial purposes.
Here are the uses of lactose monohydrate:
In the pharmaceutical industry, lactose monohydrate is used as a filler for medicines in tablet form. It is also an ideal ingredient to form a diluent powder for dry-powder inhalation. Lactose in some form is commonly found in the content of most drugs, such as birth control pills, calcium supplements, and medicines used to treat stomach diseases.
2. Baby Formula
Lactose monohydrate can be used as a food additive for infant formulas. This sugar form may also use as a sweetening agent thanks to its mildly sweet taste.
3. Food & Beverage
This lactose form is included in many foods such as frozen meals, soups, sauces, packaged food, and cakes because of its sweetening and stabilizer properties.
4. Animal Feed
Usually, lactose monohydrate is added to animal feed for commercial reasons. In this way, food volume and weight can be increased cheaply.
Side Effects Of Lactose Monohydrate
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that the amounts of lactose monohydrate contained in the drugs and foods are safe for intake.
From this point of view, we can say that consuming these foods and drugs does not generally cause side effects. But rarely, serious conditions can occur in people with high sensitivity. In such a case, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.
If you suspect that your digestive system complaints are caused by lactose intolerance, the hydrogen breath test or lactose tolerance test may help for a definitive diagnosis.
Individuals with severe lactose intolerance may prefer to avoid or limit their intake of lactose monohydrate. If you have such a situation, you can consider consuming lactose-free drug and food alternatives.
In case of insufficient enzymes that break down lactose in the intestines, the following side effects may be seen:
Bloating is swelling that you feel in your abdomen after eating. It may cause pain, discomfort and a “stuffed” feeling. Also, bloating usually occurs 30 minutes to 2 hours after consumption.
Although bloating is caused by digestive system problems from time to time, it is most often related to some foods or ingredients you are intolerant to. If you have lactose intolerance, it is quite possible that you will experience bloating.
2. Excessive Burping
Symptoms of a problem in the digestive tract often occur together. For example, if you have a gas complaint, burping also accompanies it. Consumption of lactose monohydrate can lead to excessive burping.
The reason for excessive burping is intense digestive gases released by lactose, which is not well tolerated during digestion.
Gas may be a side effect experienced by people who are sensitive to lactose monohydrate. This sensitivity varies from person to person. Therefore, there is no suggested specific amount of consumption to avoid gas.
MayoClinic.com reports that in most cases of lactose intolerance or sensitivity, the level of gas experienced as a side effect is mild.
4. Stomach pain and cramps
Stomach pain is often accompanied by symptoms such as bloating and flatulence. This complaint occurs when lactose can’t be broken down completely by enzymes in the bowels.
Although diarrhea can be triggered by bad conditions or digestive diseases in your digestive system, at the same time, it can also be a side effect of lactose monohydrate intolerance.
How To Eliminate These Side Effects
- Restrict the consumption of dairy products and other products that contain ingredients such as lactose monohydrate.
- Take lactase enzyme supplements to help the processing of lactose in your digestive system. (consult this with your healthcare provider)
- Try home remedies like herbal teas that are good for digestive issues.
- Consider over-the-counter medications that can help reduce your complaints.
The Bottom Line
Lactose monohydrate is a crystallized form of milk sugar.
Due to it is found in low amounts in food and drugs, intaking lactose monohydrate does not have the same effect as consuming lactose directly. Therefore, we can say that you can consume it safely except in rare cases.
Lactose and its derivatives can be safely consumed even if you are allergic to proteins in milk and dairy products. However, it is best for you to consult your doctor whether they are safe before consuming them.
Consuming it in excess may cause gas, bloating, and other issues for those with lactose intolerance.
If you have severe lactose intolerance, you should avoid consuming products that included this ingredient.