What enzyme causes milk intolerance?

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trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Milk intolerance is also known as lactose intolerance. It is the inability to digest lactose or the sugar found in milk products. The enzyme involved is called lactase. Babies generally produce a great deal of lactase as they are first nourished by milk, as are all mammals. However, as mammals age, their diet changes and milk is no longer their main source of food. As a result, lactase production decreases. Humans continue to drink milk and consume milk products, unlike other mammals, even as adults. However, the production of lactase in humans decreases after early childhood. Many adults have some level of lactose intolerance and it is not considered dangerous. Diseases of the intestines can produce lactose intolerance as well.

william1941 | Student

Milk intolerance, is actually intolerance of a particular sugar in milk known as lactose. This is not caused by any enzyme but rather by the lack of an enzyme known as lactase.

In our digestive system, sugars are broken down by enzymes and absorbed in the small intestine. In the absence of lactase, lactose cannot be broken down and passes in to the colon undigested. Here bacteria feed on it to produce gases like hydrogen and methane. This leads to pain in the stomach and flatulence among many other symptoms.

People who are lactose intolerant should not drink cattle milk that contains lactose and can instead switch to products like soy milk which does not have lactose.

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