Lactose intolerance

Milk jug image


We know lactose intolerance is mostly a deficiency rather than an absence of the lactase enzyme, which helps break down lactose. With a diagnosis of lactose intolerance the amount of lactose that can be tolerated will vary from person to person.

When it comes to dairy foods and lactose intolerance there is some confusion in the community. Many people misunderstand ‘low lactose’ or ‘lactose free’ to mean ‘dairy free’. Yet evidence shows many people can still enjoy dairy foods even with a lactose intolerance.

For people with lactose intolerance, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend:

  • Up to 250ml of milk may be well tolerated if consumed with other foods or if intake is spread throughout the day.
  • Most hard cheeses are virtually lactose free.
  • Yoghurt contains ‘good’ bacteria that help to digest lactose.
  • Lactose free milks are available and contain similar nutrients to regular milk.


Dairy Australia’s latest health professional communications aim to cut the confusion around lactose intolerance and dairy foods.

Check out our education resources and free fact sheets to help lactose intolerant patients enjoy dairy.

1 National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Dietary Guidelines Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2013.