A milk allergy is much different than having a lactose intolerance. A milk allergy is much more serious, but there are still options out there for you to get the calcium you need to have healthy and strong bones. Follow this expert advice to help you deal with your milk allergy.
- understand what it is
- understand how to read a label
- avoid cross contamination
- ask a healthcare provider about supplementation
- understand your dietary requirements
- consume items with the following ingredients
- ignore the symptoms of milk allergy
- forget to include calcium-rich items in your diet
- hesitate to consult with an experienced dietician or doctor
A food allergy is an abnormal immunologic response to food. In a milk protein allergy, the immune system triggers the production of antibodies in response to milk proteins, casein and whey. Unlike having a lactose intolerance, complete avoidance of milk and milk derivatives is required.
Understand that milk proteins can show up in unusual places. Since milk is a common allergen, all foods that are regulated by the FDA that contain milk or milk derivatives must declare so on the product label, which will be found at the end or near the product ingredient list stated as “contains: milk”. In addition to the intuitive dairy products, milk proteins can be found hiding in baked goods, chewing gum (recaldent is a whitening agent), processed and canned meats and canned fish, soy products, and dried items such as crackers, chips and cereals. Also, be sure to check medications and dietary supplements.
Use hot soapy water to clean all cooking surfaces, countertops, utensils and cutting boards before preparing foods. Always aim to prepare milk-free items first, cover it and put it away before preparing foods containing milk. Use separate or squeeze condiment containers. Store milk-free foods separately and above out of contact or proximity from other foods in cupboards and in the refrigerator and freezer.
Supplementation may be recommended if you aren’t getting enough calcium in your diet. Not all supplements are created equally. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the most common. Calcium carbonate provides approximately 40% elemental (actual) calcium, and goes by the brand names such as Caltrate, OsCal, or Viactiv. It’s most inexpensive and readily available, plus it contains the highest amount of elemental calcium on the market. It should be taken with meals or an acidic beverage to enhance absorption. Calcium citrate is approximately 21% elemental calcium and goes by the brand name Citracal. It may be better absorbed than calcium carbonate as it doesn’t require the presence of food or an acid.
Below is a list of calcium requirements by age that you should be aware of when looking for supplements.
AGE Calcium (mg/d)
- 0-6 (months) 210
- 7-12 (months) 270
- 1-3 years 700
- 4-8 years 100
- 9-18 years 1300
- 19-50 years 1000
- Over 50 yea 1200
- Pregnancy/Lactation 1000
Keep in mind that this is the recommended calcium requirement, and you should discuss all of your dietary needs with a qualified dietician or doctor.
The following ingredients contain lactose and need to be avoided with anybody who has a milk allergy.
- Butter, butterfat, butter solids, buttermilk
- Cheese (all types), cheese flavor, cheese sauce
- Casein, caseinates (all forms)
- Cream (half and half, sour cream, sour cream solids, whipped cream)
- Evaporated or powdered milk
- Hydrolysates (casein, milk protein, protein, whey, whey protein)
- Ice cream, sherbet
- Lactalbumin, latalbumin phosphate, lactoglobulin, lactoferrin
- Lactate solids
- Malted milk
- Milk (all types- whole, nonfat, reduced fat, evaporated, powdered)
- Milk chocolate
- Milk derivative, milk powder, milk protein, milk solids, milk solid paste
- Nonfat milk soft, nonfat dry milk
- Rennet, rennet casein
- Sour milk solids
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Whey (all forms)
Milk allergy symptoms may be more severe than lactose intolerance and may include the following:
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal cramps
- Anaphylactic shock
- Rectal fissures/bleeding/itching
- Runny nose/itchy eyes/dry throat/difficulty breathing
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should speak with a doctor about them to see if you need to take immediate action for your milk allergy.
Since dairy can be a significant source of calcium in our diets, it’s important to seek out allergen-free alternatives. Good sources generally include calcium fortified orange juice and soy milk, dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, sesame seeds, blackstrap molasses. It also may be a wise idea to avoid excess intakes of salt, caffeine, alcohol and animal proteins, as these can leak calcium from the bones.
If you have any inclination that you may have a milk allergy, speak with a qualified doctor or dietician. A lactose intolerance is much different that a milk allergy, so knowing which one you have is key in knowing how to go about forming your diet around it. A doctor can give you options for supplements and also test you for your allergy or intolerance.
Keep in mind this advice, and remember that a milk allergy is more serious than an intolerance. Knowing which one you have can help you find alternatives for dairy and keep living a healthy and happy life.