Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Answers to Questions from Readers, Part 18b

Q. Is "Lecithin" a lactose milk product? It seems as if it is derived from a Latin root word for milk, and therefore I am afraid to eat anything containing it without taking a lactase tablet.

A. My dictionary shows it as coming from the Greek for egg yolk, which is quite correct. It has nothing to do with milk.

Q. I have noticed on frozen yogurt labels that most lack acidophilus. Does acidophilus lose something in freezing?

A. If you look at most yogurt packages, you'll see a label or a seal that takes about "live and active cultures." If the cultures aren't live then they won't do much of anything for you. Frozen yogurt has a problem this way. It's not quite as simple as saying that freezing kills the cultures - it seems to depend more on the exact manufacturing process as well as on how much culture is used - but finding frozen yogurt that is as tolerable as regular yogurt is going to be hit or miss. I know that I sometimes have very different reactions even to a familiar brand. All you can do is try different brands to see if one works.

Q. How many grams of lactose in a "serving" of milk chocolate?
A. I've never seen a number. I suspect that's because recipes for milk chocolate can vary sufficiently that analysis of any one is not very meaningful. For what its worth, there's probably a lot more chocolate than milk by weight in milk chocolate. A 1 ounce candy bar would therefore have much less than a gram of lactose. Not very much.

Q. I keep seeing ingredients like malted barley, malted this and malted that. I used to drink malts and malted milk when I was young. Is there any kind of milk in "malt"?

A. The only milk in malted milk is in the milk. Any malt by itself should be milk-free. And "malted" barley or any grain merely means sprouted grain.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Answers to Questions from Readers, Part 18a

Q. Can lactose intolerance in children cause behavioral problems in children if left undetected?

A. Only two small possible problems. Truly undetected LI may result in your child's having what is politely called "anal leakage." Once you know about LI, however, you should be able to avoid this by either keeping your child away from large amounts of milk or by making sure you keep lactase pills available at all times. If children do stay away from milk, there is always the "different child" syndrome, in which they dislike not being like everybody else. This is usually not a major problem; children with milk allergies, who must be many times more cautious about milk than anyone with LI, soon learn how to cope.

Q. It seems that I can't digest anything high in carbohydrates without extreme LI symptoms. Is there lactose in spaghetti? potatoes? biscuits? bread? cake?

A. There can be - and most likely is - lactose in biscuits, breads, and cake, (although definitely not in spaghetti and potatoes unless it's added in cooking) but that's probably totally besides the point. Lactose and most other carbohydrates share one trait in common: they must be broken down into simpler sugars by digestive enzymes. Usually the lactase enzyme that digests lactose is the only one missing, but that does not have to be the case. And in fact the inability to digest carbohydrates may be an indication of a more serious underlying problem. I would advise you to talk to your doctor about this and see if testing needs to be done.

Q. The packaging of Kraft's Cracker Barrel Cheese states that it's lactose free (or no lactose). Your listing didn't include this cheese. What do you know about this?

A. I know that you're reading it wrong, exactly what Kraft wants you to do. It does not in fact say lactose free. It says 0 grams of lactose per serving, a very different thing. All aged cheeses are low in lactose. If you choose your serving size carefully enough, you can always get the lactose content down below 0.5 grams in a serving, at which point the government will legally allow you to say 0 grams. So the lactose content is undoubtedly less than 0.5 grams per ounce, which is the size of their serving. But if there are 0.4 grams per serving, that is a full 1.5% lactose. (There are 28 grams in an ounce: 0.4 divided by 28 is just about 1.5 percent.) It may be much lower, but there is no way to tell. In the meantime it is a clever marketing gimmick, but the cheese is probably not lactose free, even though it is almost certainly tolerable by almost anybody with LI.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Food to Some, Poison to Others

With a husband an children who have celiac disease and a child who is lactose intolerant, Terry Traub has all the motivation of the author who writes a food book out of her experiences.

A press release on her, Beating the Back-to-School (Gluten-Free) Lunch Box Blues: Sanity-Saving Advice and Yummy Recipes for Moms of Kids with Food Allergies, has this to say:

Terry's first book, The Food Allergy Detection Program, was written in response to the trauma the family went through trying to detect what her boys were allergic to. Their predicament made her aware that other children and adults may have problems similar to her sons. Terry developed an elimination diet to isolate the allergens causing these problems. However, unlike other elimination diets, her method was in recipe form, not just a list of foods to avoid. Also, unlike the elimination diets of the time, she stayed away from any saturated fats during the diet as these can be difficult to digest.

Terry's new book, Food to Some, Poison to Others, is an expanded version of the first book. While primarily it is still an elimination diet, more has been added to the book. The book recognizes the problems with GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and changes the way the food is prepared to help with these diseases. The new book also has a chapter entitled "On the Road," which gives tips and advice on eating out.

The full title of the book is Food to Some, Poison to Others: The Food Allergy Detection Program.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

LI Athlete: Cedric Bond

A world-class kayaker at 16, Cedric Bond is heading off to Russia for the 2008 Junior World Test Regatta.

Marques Hunter of the Peninsula Gateway in Gig Harbor, WA, wrote that "Bond is a budding All-American. He plans to train for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, as well as the 2016 games. By then, he’ll be in his prime in his mid-20s."

And he doesn't eat dairy, although he's not vegan:

One important aspect that plays into Bond’s love for kayaking is taking care of his body. About half of the foods he eats are organic. Bond ingests eggs, fruit, bagels and bananas, and doesn’t get his protein from dairy because he’s lactose intolerant.

The night before a big regatta, he’ll east [sic] pasta and occasionally eat a steak because of its high protein value.

After a strenuous workout, Bond takes a recovery drink that contains the right mixture of carbohydrates and protein.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Welcoming Guests With Food Allergies

Earlier this year I posted about a Canadian program, the Food Allergy Management Manual for Restaurants and Food Services, and said that I hoped other restaurant associations would do something similar.

They have. FAAN (The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) has put out an updated and revised Welcoming Guests With Food Allergies.

According to the press release:

this comprehensive program is an updated and revised version of an earlier training program published by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). This 60-page guide includes case studies, best practices, up-to-date research, food labeling information, and practical strategies for avoiding cross-contact, as well as suggested procedures for keeping guests safe and steps to prepare for an allergic emergency. Restaurants can use this guide as a basis for their food allergy management programs.


A training video for restaurant and food service staff is also available for purchase in English and Spanish.

UPDATE: The page to go to on the FAAN site to download a copy is Welcoming Guests With Food Allergies.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Medicinal Lactose: A View from the Inside

We all know about the use of lactose in medications, both prescription and over-the counter. Lactose isn't really used in every medication, of course; it just sorta seems that way.

But why? What makes lactose so useful? One way to answer that question is to ask a manufacturer and listen to it boast.

Here's an article, really a press release in disguise, that appeared on

The Lactose Leader
Sheffield has been manufacturing pharma-grade Lactose products since 1940. It has the longest reputation for anhydrous direct tableting excipients, and holds the original patent for NF Anhydrous Direct Tableting (DT) lactose. Today it produces both monohydrate and anhydrous forms of lactose at a fully cGMP compliant FDA registered drug establishment in the US. It uses a certified rennet-free whey source to eliminate any possible TSE contamination concerns.

A key recent innovation has been the creation of a high-flowing ‘DTHV' NF lactose grade, which forms harder tablets at lower compaction forces than other high-flowing directly compressible products. At the same time DTHV tablets have similar disintegration profiles as other high flowing directly compressible lactose tablets with lower hardness values. ...

Tabletting System
Sheffield's Tabletting System concept provides a simple way to create custom fast-dissolving tablet formulations using a free-flowing lactose-based functional powder for direct compression. Customers only need to add the desired active and a flavour (or a taste-masked active), plus lubricant, and then form into tablets using standard direct compression techniques.

Pharma Flavours
Sheffield's recently launched range of Kerry Pharma Flavours, which now enjoys pharma levels of quality control, can improve the taste of pharmaceuticals by masking the unpleasant taste associated with many active pharmaceutical ingredients. Kerry's understanding of flavour perception, regional consumer preferences and extensive product knowledge permit the optimal choice of flavour profiles for every pharma application. 14 standard flavours are available, but in-house development capabilities permit the creation of custom flavours as required.

Coating Systems
Sheffield's Film Coating Systems provide an easy-to-use yet complete solution for tablet cosmetics and functionality. The range comprises four clear coating systems, a colour coating system and two choices of enteric coating system. All are supplied as a free-flowing powder that is readily dissolved in water to yield a ready-to-spray solution for aqueous film coating. Application substrates range from pharmaceutical tablets to nutritional supplements.

It all sounds so wonderful there hardly seems to be any reason to spoil the lactose pills with those icky medicines. But they do.

And we who are lactose intolerant or dairy allergic are just going to have to live with it, because with all this wonderfulness going on you know they won't stop using lactose for a long time to come.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vegan Recipes From a Vegan Brother and Sister

M. Butterflies Katz has been a member of the Gentle World commune in Hawaii for the past 26 years and was the author of their cookbook, Incredibly Delicious: Recipes for a New Paradigm.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel did an article on her and her cooking partner and bother Brook Katz that features recipes on five versatile vegan dishes.

The Versatile Onion Dip and Creamy Carrot Cashew Pate are healthful dips made without mayo or sour cream, yet they are rich and creamy tasting. The pate uses soaked cashews that you puree to give it creamy thickness. The onion dip uses silken tofu. Neither requires cooking, which is not only a boon for those into eating raw foods but for the cook who doesn't want to heat up the kitchen this summer.

The Baked Pasta With Creamy Marinara is easy to make using a jarred vegan tomato sauce. That sauce is combined with a creamy tofu mixture that is almost like a bechamel. This is stirred into the pasta and also used on top of it.

The Fruit Pastry Slices are created from an easy-to-work dough made with whole-wheat pastry flour so they are more healthful. They are perfect for tucking into a lunch box.

Each of the five recipes, which also includes Sweet and Sour Miso Dressing, is found at a separate link given on that article page.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Baby Bottles Still Safe FDA Says

Only a tiny minority of infants never go through a bottle-feeding stage, even if they were breastfed during their first few months of life. Many of my readers are parents whose children have such severe allergies that they must always be bottle-bed.

News that baby bottles themselves might have a harmful contaminant would shake the entire population of parents with very young children.

The FDA took steps this week to try to quiet those fears, concerning a chemical named Bisphenol A (BPA).

FDA has been reviewing the emerging literature on BPA on a continuous basis. For example, FDA has recently completed a review of the available biological fate data and two recently completed rodent multigeneration reproductive studies; these studies did not indicate a safety concern for BPA at current exposure levels. In addition, FDA is conducting a review of the data on neural and behavioral effects of BPA exposure.

Based on our ongoing review, we believe there is a large body of evidence that indicates that FDA-regulated products containing BPA currently on the market are safe and that exposure levels to BPA from food contact materials, including for infants and children, are below those that may cause health effects. However, we will continue to consider new research and information as they become available.

This position is consistent with two risk assessments for BPA conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food and the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Each of these documents considered the question of a possible low-dose effect and concluded that no current health risk exists for BPA at the current exposure level.

For those who continue to have worries, the FDA also added this:
Message for Consumers
At this time, FDA is not recommending that anyone discontinue using products that contain BPA while we continue our risk assessment process. However, concerned consumers should know that several alternatives to polycarbonate baby bottles exist, including glass baby bottles.

You should know that you almost certainly have traces of BPA in your body, in extremely low levels. The Associated Press reported:
About 93 percent of Americans have traces of bisphenol in their urine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the F.D.A.’s report concluded that those levels were thousands of times below what would actually be dangerous to adults or children.

Some consumer groups naturally claim that any levels of this chemical is harmful. However, that's not what the current research suggests. If you do want to avoid it nevertheless, then glass bottles are the best choice.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dairy In Acidophilus: A Problem That Can Confuse

For many people with lactose intolerance, symptoms only appear when undigested lactose gets fermented by certain types of bacteria that live in the colon.

An obvious solution to this is to try to replace those types of bacteria with different species that actually digest lactose.

That's the rationale behind advocating yogurt with live and active cultures, since those cultures are the right kind of bacteria and can take over the colon from the bad kind.

People who don't want to bother with the yogurt can also go directly to pills that contain bacteria. Lactagen and Digestive Advantage are two brands that market themselves to those with lactose intolerance.

There's no reason to suspect that other pills with the right kind of bacteria wouldn't also work. These fall under the general label of probiotics and are among the hottest pills on the market.

So what to do with the news that comes from Health Canada, the federal Canadian agency that monitors health, food, and nutrition issues that some brands contain contaminants from dairy proteins?

Health Canada is warning Canadians with milk allergies not to use several brands of unauthorized acidophilus-containing health products labelled as “non-dairy” because they contain trace amounts of milk protein from dairy ingredients used in the production process.

The products are:

Truly Premium All Naturals Acidophilus with Bifidus (50 capsules)
London Naturals Acidophilus with Bifidus (90 capsules)
London Naturals Acidophilus with Bifidus (180 capsules)
London Naturals Acidophilus with Bifidus (30 capsules)
Acidophilus with Bifidus & FOS -- Webber Naturals (180 capsules)
Acidophilus with Bifidus & FOS -- Webber Naturals (60 capsules)
Rexall Pro-Biotic (60 capsules)

And they added two more products to that list:
Further to a communication issued August 8, 2008, Health Canada is advising Canadians with milk allergies of two additional acidophilus-containing health products labelled as "non-dairy" that have been found to contain trace amounts of milk protein from dairy ingredients used in the production process.

The products are:

Natural Factors Super Strength Cal'dophilus (180 capsules)
Natural Factors Super Strength Cal'dophilus (90 capsules)

Nzatural Factors, the distributor, has initiated a voluntary recall of these products.

People with lactose intolerance will not suffer any symptoms from dairy proteins. There's no reason for them to stop taking any of these pills for this reason. Besides, if you're taking the pills because you want to be able to eat dairy products again, a fractional amount of additional dairy protein won't mean a thing.

But it's possible that some people with dairy protein allergies may be taking these pills to give them better overall digestive health. Whether they work for this purpose I can't say, but that would be the expectation. In that case, someone who is extremely sensitive to dairy proteins may have a reaction. They are certainly advised to find similar pills that are completely dairy free.

This confusion between lactose intolerance and dairy allergy pops up all over the place and it's a vital distinction to always keep in mind.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Be a PAL

With the school year starting, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is starting its Be a PAL Program

Be a PAL: Protect A Life™ From Food Allergies is an educational awareness program designed to help parents and educators teach students what food allergies are and how to help their friends who have food allergies.

The PAL program teaches five simple steps kids can take to keep their classmates safe:

• Food allergies are serious. Don’t make jokes about them.
• Don’t share food with friends who have food allergies.
• Wash your hands after eating.
• Ask what your friends are allergic to, and help them avoid it.
• If a friend who has food allergies becomes ill, get help immediately!

The program has a brochure explaining it, posters, awards, and lots of other goodies, all available at that web page.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lactose Intolerance Transcends Race

What ethnic groups are most likely to be lactose tolerant? As I wrote in my book, Milk Is Not for Every Body: Living with Lactose Intolerance, northern and western Europeans and various African tribal groups who live along the fringes of the Sahara and the Sahel deserts are the groups least likely to get symptoms from drinking milk. They - or their ancestors, who are also likely to be ancestors of many people in the U.S. - grew up in milk-drinking cultures, where the ability to digest milk as an adult gave people a slightly better change to survive and bear more children.

One thing most people would quickly notice is that northern Europeans are among the lightest-skinned ethnic groups and the African tribal peoples are among the darkest. They're of two different races in the usual cultural sorting of race.

Genetically, however, they share a mutated gene that puts them both in the minority of humanity.

There's a real problem with using skin color as a separator of peoples. The extremes may be instantly noticeable, but the fringes overlap in many ways. And skin color is just another product of your genetic underpinnings, one of many, possibly thousands. So what sense can it possibly make to divide race by this particular set of genes rather than a different set of genes, like the one that controls lactase production?

That's a question Sharon Begley asks in her Newsweek blog.

She also uses the lactase gene as an example, among others:
But how you group people depends on which traits you focus on: sorting people according to one set of traits produces different groupings than sorting them by different but equally valid traits.

Say you decide that the distinguishing trait is the gene for hemoglobin. If you divide humankind by which of two forms of the gene each person has, then equatorial Africans, Italians and Greeks fall into the “sickle-cell race;” Swedes and South Africa’s Xhosas (Nelson Mandela’s ethnic group) are in the healthy-hemoglobin race. Or how about dividing humanity by who has epicanthic eye folds, which produce the "Asian" eye? Then the !Kung San (Bushmen) belong with the Japanese and Chinese. Or say you sort humanity by the presence of the lactase gene. Then Norwegians, Arabians, north Indians and the Fulani of northern Nigeria are in one race, while everyone else—other Africans, Japanese, Native Americans—forms the no-lactase race. Depending on which trait you choose to demarcate races, “you won't get anything that remotely tracks conventional [race]categories,” anthropologist Alan Goodman told me back then.


That’s why Venter and colleagues conclude that race is too crude a proxy for what genetic group—ethnicity or, as biologists say, population—someone belongs to. It is imperative to “go beyond simplistic ethnic categorization,” they write, since that can be seriously—and perhaps fatally—misleading. (In the U.S., some 100,000 people a year die of adverse drug reactions, many caused by an inability to properly metabolize the medication because of a particular CYP2D6 variation.) “Race/ethnicity should be considered only a makeshift solution for personalized genomics because it is too approximate,” they write.

It's way too simple and simplistic to say that your are your genes (although that's about a million times as sensible as saying that you are your blood type.) Being lactose intolerant doesn't need to cut you off from all dairy and many people perfectly capable of having dairy without symptoms choose to be vegans.

The opposite of that - saying that you are nothing but what you genes make most visible - is equally simplistic, if not downright moronic.

The next time you hear someone make a case for judging people by the color of their skin, think of lactose intolerance. And tell the racist to shut it.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Rose Elliot's Top 10 Vegetarian Cookbooks

Rose Elliot is the author of over 50[!] cookbooks, including Rose Elliot's Vegetarian Cookery, a patron of the Vegetarian Society, and a recipient of the MBE for services to vegetarian cookery.

So I guess we can take her for an expert on vegetarian cookbooks.

Here's the short list of titles. For more information about each, take a look at the whole article on the Guardian's website.

1. The Café Paradiso Cookbook by Denis Cotter
2. New Vegetarian by Celia Brooks Brown
3. Japanese Vegetarian Cookbook by Patricia Richfield
4. Vegetarian Thai by Jackum Brown
5. Fresh Flavours of India by Das Sreedharan
6. The Cranks Bible by Nadine Abensur
7. The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas
8. Easy Vegan Cooking by Leah Leneman
9. Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian
10. Colin Spencer's Vegetable Book

Remember that vegetarian is not the same as vegan. And that Elliot is a UK writer, although you should have little trouble finding most if not all of these books in the U.S.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Harriet Roth's Cholesterol Control Cookbook

Here's a somewhat different approach to the lactose-free or dairy-free cookbook.

Harriet Roth's Cholesterol Control Cookbook.

Publishers Weekly
Formerly director of the Pritikin Longevity Center Cooking School, Roth admits that she, like many other gourmet cooks, at one time frequently cooked with large quantities of animal protein, butter, cream and eggs--until her husband was diagnosed as having a serious coronary condition. The author of Deliciously Low: The Gourmet Guide to Low - Sodium, Low-Fat, Low - Cholesterol, Low-Sugar Cooking here presents easy-to-understand information about cholesterol and how to control its presence in one's diet. Also discussed are dietary fiber and how this affects cholesterol; weight reduction and maintenance; and cholesterol-lowering drugs sometimes prescribed when dieting proves insufficient. While offering little new information on these matters, Roth stresses the importance of adopting healthful habits and carefully reading food labels to achieve one's goals. Providing more than 250 recipes and 200 meal plans, she shows, moreover, that low-cholesterol cooking need not be uninspired. Also provided are calorie and nutrition tables of commonly used foods, but recipes do not include nutritional analyses or calorie counts.

While this is not a cookbook that is completely dairy-free, the emphasis of removing cream and butter from recipes results in the substitution of foods like soy cheese and light soymilk, making them suitable for dairy-free readers.

This is a new and updated paperback edition of a book that was first published in 1989. The review above is from the original edition; I don't know what the updating consisted of.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Canadians To Survey Food Allergy Prevalence

How many people in the U.S. have a food allergy? For that matter, how many have each of the eight major food allergies?

Nobody really knows. All those numbers you see floating around? They're estimates based on, well, who knows what?

Other countries have this same problem, of course. Canada is going to do something about it.

As article in The Canadian Press announced that:

Researchers have launched a national survey to determine how many Canadians suffer from potentially fatal food allergies and how effective food labelling is in helping consumers avoid allergens that may be hazardous to their health.

Details of the survey of 9,000 Canadians were announced Wednesday, at the same time as federal Health Minister Tony Clement outlined proposed new labelling requirements for allergens, gluten sources and added sulphites in pre-packaged foods.

The survey by researchers at the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (AllerGen), conducted in partnership with Health Canada, is aimed at nailing down the actual prevalence in the population of severe allergies to the "Big Five" - peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish and sesame seeds.

This is exactly the kind of information that is needed in the U.S. as well. Maybe a new administration can call upon the CDC to do one.

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Genetic Map of Europe Features the Lactase Mutation

All regular readers of this blog should know by know that the ability to continue drinking milk as an adult is the result of a mutation. The mutated gene never sends the signal to turn off lactase production at about the age of weaning. Humans have probably always occasionally had this mutation, but it didn't start to spread through the population until dairying started, a known 8000 years ago and probably earlier than that.

The mutation spread from the Middle East up into and across Europe. Since historically, the majority of white Americans had ancestors from northern and western Europe, the areas where the mutation was most prevalent, Americans inherited the European's dairy culture.

Huge amounts of investigation of DNA have more precisely traced those pathways, and the spread of the lactose tolerance gene is one of the best studied subjects in modern genetics.

Genomic sites that carry the strongest signal of variation among populations may be those influenced by evolutionary change, Dr. Kayser said. Of the 100 strongest sites, 17 are found in the region of the genome that confers lactose tolerance, an adaptation that arose among a cattle herding culture in northern Europe some 5,000 years ago.

That's from an article by Nicholas Wade in The New York Times, which has a very cool map in it.

The map comes from an article that will appear in next week's Current Biology, "Correlation between Genetic and Geographic Structure in Europe," by Oscar Lao, et al.

Wade wrote:
The map also identifies the existence of two genetic barriers within Europe. One is between the Finns (light blue, upper right) and other Europeans. It arose because the Finnish population was at one time very small and then expanded, bearing the atypical genetics of its few founders.

The other is between Italians (yellow, bottom center) and the rest. This may reflect the role of the Alps in impeding free flow of people between Italy and the rest of Europe.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Dairy-Free Cheese Summary

The EarthTalk column, put out by E - The Environmental Magazine and found on the site dabs its toe into the issue of dairy-free cheese. Nothing new or special but a good reminder.

The first place to look might just be your regular supermarket's produce section—that's often where you'll find Galaxy Foods' Veggie line of non-dairy cheeses. After all, they are made from soy, which is produce. Galaxy's offerings come shredded, grated, in slices, and in hunks. Fans swear they taste just like the real thing. And they are all excellent sources of calcium without cholesterol, saturated/trans fats, or lactose.

Galaxy also offers cheeses made from rice. And while some of both the Rice Brand and Veggie line contain small amounts of cultured milk salt, dried skim milk protein, and trace amounts of lactose, Galaxy also makes two purely vegan varieties, usually found in the dairy sections of grocery or health food stores.

A few other popular brands made with rice include Rice Slices and Lifetime Low Fat Jalapeno Jack Rice Cheese. Check the shelves of your local organic or natural food market to find one or more to sample.

Another leading producer of dairy-free cheeses is Scotland's Bute Island Foods. The company began making its own vegan hard cheese alternatives (sold under the Sheese brand name) in 1988, and has since expanded into cream cheese alternatives (Creamy Sheese) as well. From pizzas to sauces to sandwiches to spreads, Bute Island has vegan and lactose-intolerant cheese lovers covered.

Some other soy-based choices that get good reviews include Good Slice Cheddar Style Cheese Alternative (great for sandwiches), vegan-friendly Tofutti Soy Cheese Slices, Follow Your Heart's Vegan Gourmet (pizza, anyone?), and Teese (it melts with the best of them), among others.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kosher Certified Lactase Drops

It was huge news when I was able to announce earlier this year that lactase drops were once again available in the U.S.

That's great, but it was insufficient news for some people who needed more information. I received a question today asking me if any lactase drops were kosher certified.

After much searching, I've found that both the Lacteeze Enzyme Drops made and sold in Canada by Gelda Pharmaceutical and the LACTAID® Lactase Enzyme Drops made and sold in Canada by McNeil specifically say that they are kosher-certified on those web pages I linked to.

Both can be ordered from a number of Canadian pharmacies and online sites.

Unfortunately, Pharmax Liquid Lactase, the brand that is sold in the U.S., does not have a kosher certification.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Breastfeeding Baby With Dairy Allergy

I received an email today asking a delicate question.

I was wondering if you could help. If my baby has a milk protein allergy (she is breastfed) can I eat products that are non-dairy but with added lactose such as deli meat?

This is a question I had to tiptoe very carefully around. I answered:
Pure lactose will not affect someone who has a dairy allergy, which is to the dairy protein. Breastmilk itself is 7% lactose, so any additional lactose in the diet wouldn't be even noticed.

If the additive in the deli meat is some other milk product then you should check with a doctor first.

A few people are so sensitive to dairy proteins that the slight possibility that lactose may have a few molecules of protein in it is enough to make them avoid lactose entirely. These have always been people who take milk in directly. I've never heard of a case in which dairy protein reached a breastfeeding child via lactose in the mother's diet. But I also don't know how seriously allergic your daughter is.

I'd say it's very unlikely for the normal allergic baby to be affected in this manner. But I don't know the particulars of your case. Your doctor does. I would doublecheck the next time you visit.

Sensitivities to protein vary enormously. That's why it's so important to get all the information possible on your specific case - or for your own child's - to be able to make the most informed decisions about diet.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tofutti Profits Down: An Omen?

I've been eating Tofutti products for many, many years. The company, as I've written before, is one of the oldest dairy alternative product manufacturers.

A standard business announcement press release said that while Tofutti's sales were up, profits were down.

The Company's operating results continued to be negatively impacted as a result of new product start-up costs, including costs incurred at a new co-packaging location, increased marketing expenses and higher packaging and freight charges. The Company expects that its operating expenses will continue to be affected by these same factors during the remainder of 2008.

Not a huge bit of news, unless you own Tofutti stock, which I don't.

For me the real underlying news is that one of the best known, longest-lived, and most established companies in the milk alternative business is having problems.

Niche products and companies are almost almost the ones to feel the effects of economic slowdowns first and more severely than mainstream companies. That brings up the chilling prospect that some of the shakier companies - but who nonetheless produce some of your favorite foods - may go out of business, or at least be forced to severely cut back, in the near term.

That's not fair, but it's historically likely. Keep watching the shelves.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Kate DeAraugo's Lactose Intolerance

I come across many "huh?" moments when searching for material for this blog. Huh" as in "what were they thinking?" "Huh?" as in "how could that possibly happen?" "Huh?" as is "how could anyone be that stupid?"

And sometimes just "Huh?" as in "what in the world is going on here?"

I just had that last feeling when I read this article from the Australian site of SkyNews Online. [Article taken down by August 12. Intestesting.]

Former Australian Idol, Kate DeAraugo, has quit her endorsement deal with weight loss company Jenny Craig.

It follows reports health problems were hampering the singer's efforts to shed the pounds.

Since being named idol winner back in 2005, DeAraugo has had a public battle with her weight, hoping to beat the battle once and for all when she became Jenny Craig's latest celebrity fat fighter at the beginning of the year.

However the split has been confirmed by the weight loss company after it was found out the singer was not losing weight due to a lactose and glucose intolerance.

She couldn't lose weight because of lactose intolerance? Or because of gluten intolerance? Those statements don't belong together. If you can't eat dairy or wheat without symptoms, you find substitutes. What you eat and how you exercise have bearing on whether or not you gain or lose weight (or stay the same). The mere fact of being lactose intolerant is entirely irrelevant.

She has had health problems that could very well be linked to efforts to lose weight. An October 2005 blog post noted that the then 19-year-old had already lost 30 kilos (66 pounds) in 2005 and had two fainting spells before winning the competition. I'm not walking out on a very thin rope to guess that the weight loss and the fainting were related or that her desperate slimming was done to acknowledge the planetary culture of thinness in beauty. She's gone up and down in weight since, and became the Jenny Craig spokesmodel in January.

She never should have been allowed anywhere near that position with her history. I'm stunned into another "huh?' moment by the thought that Jenny Craig didn't have doctors check her out before signing the deal. That's a "what were they thinking?" moment?

No matter what the outcome might be - I somehow doubt the story ends here - the real problems for DeAraugo concern her yo-yo dieting and what that might be doing to her long-term health. Yes, she might be both lactose and gluten intolerant. That's not a big deal. (Not will it cause you to faint.) Now that she knows she can eat healthier foods that won't cause her any symptoms. If she can get away from the deadly spotlight that shines on the outline of her body she has a great rest of her life ahead of her. If not, then food intolerances are the least of her problems.

UPDATE: The Australian published a follow-up to the earlier story.
I went to the doctor and my body doesn't digest certain foods well, so I decided it was bad for them and I didn't want to do bad by them.

However DeAraugo seemed to be confused by her dietary dilemma when quizzed by an equally uninformed Kyle Sandilands.

After first stating she was unable to digest gluten - a condition known as coeliacs disease - DeAraugo then said she was lactose intolerant after being prompted by Sandilands.

Lactose intolerance refers to the inability to process dairy, not gluten.

All right! Is everything clear now?

All this latest bit of nonsense says is that we haven't heard any of the real truth about this story. But we have heard lactose intolerance once again used as a convenient scapegoat.

Ugly, ugly, ugly.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Studentz Stil Dumm

I don't mean to pick on students. The odds are that if you were to throw a stone at a random person in the U.S. (kids, leave this to professionals) you would hit someone who knows little or nothing scientific about food and nutrition.

But students are captive audiences for researchers. And the University of Michigan Health System keeps publishing studies on students' lack of knowledge. I reported on one such survey almost a year ago in Studentz Ar Dumm.

And here we are in 2008 and Professor Matt Greenhawt has findings virtually identical to his previous report. From

Among college students, researchers found that only 50 percent of the students who identified themselves as having an allergy to a food said they always avoided the food.

About two-thirds could verify that somebody close to them on campus was aware that they were food-allergic. About 60 percent could verify that either a roommate, house mate or suite mate was aware of his or her food allergy.

The findings that cause the most concern, says Marc S. McMorris, M.D., is that only 43 percent who identified themselves as food-allergic could verify that they had in their possession an emergency medication to treat a reaction, and only about 20 percent had self-injectable epinephrine – the recommended treatment – available to treat a reaction.

Since most people with allergies learn about them when they are much younger than college age, and since almost half of those allergic to foods have had a reaction in school at younger than college age, you'd think that even college-age kids - a group traditionally casual when it comes to health issues - would have learned a lesson or two along the way. Admittedly, a group notoriously cavalier about the risks of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs may not be the group to tread carefully around pizza. But danger is danger, and deadly is deadly, and peer pressure may be less a threat to those avoiding foods than those avoiding beerfests.

At least carry an Epipen next to your condoms. Make your parents happy.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Greek Monk Writes Dairy-Free Cookbook

Father Epifanios Milopotaminos, an Orthodox Christian monk at the Mount Athos monastery in Greece has been in charge of cooking there for 40 years, still cooking most of the group's meal over a log fire as they've been doing for the last century.

The monks don't eat red meat, although they fish and gather seafood, and they don't use dairy either.

An article by the Associated Press's Derek Gatopoulos that I found on the site, gave some of the unusual details.

Father Epifanios already has appeared on a popular Greek cooking show, and his publisher, Synchronoi Ozizontes, says the leather-bound cookbook has sold 12,000 copies, a healthy figure for the local market.

Athens nutrition scientist Paraskevas Papachristou says books such as Father Epifanios’ get a great deal of attention because Greeks generally want to eat healthier.

Whether people actually make the recipes is another matter. Papachristou says the interest is at odds with an overall trend away from Mediterranean diets because people cook less and eat more convenience foods.

Published in April, “Cooking on Mount Athos” (so far available only in Greek) offers unpretentious, tasty recipes. Don’t expect arugula with balsamic vinegar. Rather, lots of chickpeas and bitter wild greens.

“Monks at Mount Athos don’t eat meat,” says Father Epifanios. “The word butter is never mentioned in the book, and we don’t add flour to thicken sauces. We just let the ingredients boil down.”

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Origins of Modern Veganism

The august New York Times allowed readers to ask questions of Rynn Berry, the author of The Vegan Guide to New York City.

His comments on the origin of today's vegan movement (obviously, there have been many such in the past) were interesting.

In Leceister England in 1944, Donald Watson and his wife Dorothy coined the term vegan, which they formed from the first three and the last two letters of “vegetarian.” With this new term, the Watsons wanted to encompass the meaning of “vegetarian” imparted by the Pythagoreans and Buddhists, i.e. one who for reasons of compassion, abstains from consuming all foods and other products of animal origin. It took time for the word to catch on in the United State, but now it has become almost a competing term with vegetarian. To help win recognition for the vegan concept in America, Mr. H. Jay Dinshah started the American Vegan Society in Malaga, N.J., in 1960. Dinshah, of Parsee descent, infused veganism with the Jain and Buddhist doctrine of ahimsa-(non violence to all living creatures). In fact, Ahimsa was the name of the journal (latterly The American Vegan) that Mr. Dinshah and his wife published quarterly. Mr. Dinshah’s wife, Freya, published the first vegan cookbook, The Vegan Kitchen, in 1966, which remains a steady seller. Largely due to the efforts of the Dinshahs and countless unsung others, veganism has become a hip urban lifestyle, and New York City has become the most vegan-friendly city in the world.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dairying More Than 8000 Years Old

Archaeological news usually doesn't impress people unless a new tomb or underwater is found. So the fat residue on some old pots normally comes filed under the heading of specialists only.

Well, I'm a specialist and I think these old pots are megacool news. You see, they provide the oldest evidence of milk use ever found, more than 1500 years earlier than anything else known.

Photo by Olivier Nieuwenhuijse, University of Leiden

Talking about an article that was just published in the leading British science journal, Nature, wrote:

Professor Richard Evershed and colleagues describe how the analysis of more than 2,200 pottery vessels from southeastern Europe, Anatolia and the Levant extends the early history of milk by two millennia to the seventh millennium BC.

Vessels most likely to have been used for food preparation were selected to test where milk use started, and whether the use of milk products first began in the region where farming was pioneered – the Fertile Crescent – or whether it was an innovation of other regions.

Organic residues preserved in the pottery suggest that even before 6,500 BC milk was processed and stored, although this varied regionally depending on the farming techniques used.

Cattle, sheep and goats were familiar domesticated animals by the eighth millennium BC but until now, the first clear evidence for milk use was the late fifth millennium.

Why is this so important for those of us who can't drink milk? Everhard said:

Processing milk would have had two important advantages, providing a means of storing surplus milk as products, that is cheese, ghee, and so on, making them available throughout the year, and providing a solution for any problems of lactose intolerance; most lactose intolerant people have fewer problems with consuming processed milk products.

The spread of lactose tolerance moves along with a dairy culture from these beginners with low-lactose products in the Middle East. Those few humans with the mutant gene that allowed them to never stop making the lactase enzyme as adults had a slight reproductive advantage because milk and dairy products provided calcium and other critical nutrients. Since the mutant gene was dominant, they passed the gene to many of the children who passed it down to many of their children who passed it down to us, who live, at least in the West, in a dairy-laden culture. This was a good thing back when it meant survival and it's a good thing today.

I also advocate eating and drinking dairy products if you can do so without symptoms. It is a great source of nutrition. If you can't, at least we have many useful substitutes today. I'll probably get back to them tomorrow, but today is for our ingenious milk-drinking ancestors.

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Dairy-Free GoodBelly

Functional foods are still mostly a European concept, even though American firms have been slowly introducing them for years.

For years also describes how long I've been writing about them, with the best definition found in an article I posted more than two years ago, quoting "Taking Soy Protein beyond Milk," by Henk Hoogenkamp & Paul Evers of Netherlands' Alko Research.

Basically, functional drinks are defined as a concept that provides a health benefit beyond the basic nutritional content by virtue of their physiologically active added components. Yakult Japan is not only the pioneer of the probiotic functional drinks but also still the world leader of the distinctive ‘one-shot size’ drink format. It has taken a while, but in recent years a wave of me-too products has been introduced by giants like Yoplait, Danone and Nestle.

A soymilk industry veteran is bringing a new class of functional food to the states. From the press release:
NextFoods, the new functional food company formed by Organic and Natural Products industry pioneer Steve Demos (Founder and former President of WhiteWave, Inc., makers of Silk® soymilk) and seasoned industry and former WhiteWave veteran Todd Beckman, today announced a $16 million investment, led by Seattle-based venture capital firm Maveron LLC. Maveron, co-founded by Dan Levitan and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, is investing in NextFoods and its new GoodBelly(TM) brand of probiotic fruit drinks ...

GoodBelly is the first fruit-based, dairy-free probiotic product of its kind in the United States. Licensed from Probi AB, a Swedish biotech company and a leading player in the field of probiotic research and development of effective and well-documented probiotics, the patented and proprietary probiotic Lp299v has been clinically tested and proven for 15 years to improve overall digestive regularity and promote immunity. With exclusive North American rights to Lp299v, NextFoods plans on continuing to work with Probi to expand the offerings in its NextFoods portfolio.

GoodBelly is currently available in two product lines – GoodBelly Probiotic Fruit Drink and GoodBelly Multi – and is distributed nationwide at 1,500 stores, including Whole Foods Market and grocery chains such as HEB, Publix, Wegmans and Giant Eagle.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

More A2 Milk Nonsense

Remember A2 Milk, the latest rage from New Zealand?

Let's quote a reputable site, an official New Zealand government FAQ.

What’s the difference between ‘A1’ and ‘A2’ milk?
The name comes from the type of protein in the milk. Milk from cows, and any other milk producing animal, can vary quite a lot in the types and amounts of proteins they contain.

Cow’s milk contains six major proteins. Four are casein proteins, the other two are whey proteins. Casein proteins make up about 80 percent of the protein in cow’s milk. A type of casein called beta-casein is one of the major ones, and is itself of different kinds, depending on the genetic make-up of the cow. The most common are beta-casein A1 and beta-casein A2. Milk high in beta-casein A1 is being referred to as ‘A1 milk’ while milk high in beta-casein A2 is being called ‘A2 milk’.

This is good for some people with cow's milk protein allergies because they may be less sensitive to this different set of proteins.

Obviously, though, it couldn't possibly matter to those of us with lactose intolerance, right?

Well, as I reported in A2 Milk Update: Warning to LI Readers, A2 milk manufacturers are making the claim that people with LI can drink A2 milk safely. Why? Because the different proteins somehow make a difference. That there is no evidence for this claim existing anywhere in the world that I can find doesn't seem to bother them.

I hadn't heard anything more for the past year, but an article on, A2 Milk: the Solution to Lactose Intolerance, Allergies and Other Illness?, by Lynn Berry, resurrects the idiocy. And not even in their Satire section.
People with assumed lactose intolerance are able to tolerate A2 milk with research suggesting that intolerance is due to the type of milk protein present in the milk given that A2 milk contains lactose.

The article concludes by saying:
Information for this article was taken from:




I do like articles with references. That means I can check them to see if they were accurately quoted.


Not one of the three pages linked so much as mentions the word lactose. If you dig really deep on the site, however, you find this:
Q: If I have lactose intolerance can I drink a2 milk?
A: A2 milk contains the same quantity of lactose that is found in normal milk and will not resolve any medically diagnosed lactose intolerance. However some of the symptoms of lactose intolerance can be caused by other factors in milk such as BCM7 that can be released from the A1 protein found in most cows’ milk.

BCM7 is a strong opioid which has been shown to directly affect gut processes and mucus production. A2 milk does not contain the A1 protein that releases BCM7.

Link to "Research has centred on the effects of BCM7 in the body" section of the Bioactive page of to act as reference.

I have absolutely no idea what they think they are saying there. BCM7 has no relationship to lactose intolerance. I did check the "Bioactive page of" It, of course, did not even mention the word lactose.

Unless and until 40 years worth of research by the medical community is overturned and some other factor in milk than lactose is implicated in lactose intolerance, I urge my readers not to be taken in by any magical promises made by A2 milk. Treat it exactly as your would any other milk: no better, no worse.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

LI Olympics Watch - Emily Caruso

From the Waterbury, CT Republican-American:

Image: Norwich University.

America’s best hope for a medal in women’s shooting might also be its smallest Olympian.

Fairfield native Emily Caruso stands just 5-foot-2, but she’s been a big shot in her sport for the past eight years, winning the national championship in the women’s 10-meter air rifle event five times.


Caruso, 29, isn’t your average shooter. She doesn’t hunt (although she doesn’t oppose doing it for food) and is a vegetarian (partly because she’s lactose intolerant).

Of course, some members of the women's gymnastics team are much shorter, but let's not hold that against her. And she's also 31, having been born in 1977. But I'm sure that the rest of the article contains many sentences that are correct.

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Answers to Questions from Readers, Part 17

Q. Is "Lecithin" a lactose milk product? It seems as if it is derived from a Latin root word for milk, and therefore I am afraid to eat anything containing it without taking a lactase tablet.

A. My dictionary shows it as coming from the Greek for egg yolk, which is quite correct. It has nothing to do with milk.

Q. I have noticed on frozen yogurt labels that most lack acidophilus. Does acidophilus lose something in freezing?

A. If you look at most yogurt packages, you'll see a label or a seal that takes about "live and active cultures." If the cultures aren't live then they won't do much of anything for you. Frozen yogurt has a problem this way. It's not quite as simple as saying that freezing kills the cultures - it seems to depend more on the exact manufacturing process as well as on how much culture is used - but finding frozen yogurt that is as tolerable as regular yogurt is going to be hit or miss. I know that I sometimes have very different reactions even to a familiar brand. All you can do is try different brands to see if one works.

Q. How many grams of lactose in a "serving" of milk chocolate?

A. I've never seen a number. I suspect that's because recipes for milk chocolate can vary sufficiently that analysis of any one is not very meaningful. For what its worth, there's probably a lot more chocolate than milk by weight in milk chocolate. A 1 ounce candy bar would therefore have much less than a gram of lactose. Not very much.

Q. I keep seeing ingredients like malted barley, malted this and malted that. I used to drink malts and malted milk when I was young. Is there any kind of milk in "malt"?

A. The only milk in malted milk is in the milk. Any malt by itself should be milk-free. And "malted" barley or any grain merely means sprouted grain.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Making Sense of Yogurt Choices

An article by the American Institute for Cancer Research on offers a quick tutorial on the multitude of claims that yogurts are making. Here's a shortened version.

Probiotics. All yogurts provide probiotics, live microorganisms (bacteria) that confer a wide range of potential health benefits. Research tentatively supports using probiotics to help resolve diarrhea and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, as well as to enhance immune system functions and reduce susceptibility to infections. But not all types of probiotic bacteria offer identical benefits. In the U.S., the starter bacteria for yogurt cultures (L bulgaricus and S thermophilus) have been shown to help with lactose intolerance, but research does not provide convincing evidence of the other proposed benefits.

Prebiotics. Several yogurt manufacturers now go a step further by adding prebiotics to their products. Prebiotics are carbohydrates that feed probiotic bacteria, supporting their growth or activity. Some types of dietary fiber are classified as prebiotics, but it’s not as simple as just looking for fiber on the Nutrition Facts panel. Prebiotics added to yogurt include inulin (made from chicory or table sugar), soy oligosaccharides and some types of maltodextrins and modified food starch. And don’t assume that prebiotics are listed on all labels; some yogurts contain one or more prebiotics without identifying the ingredient to the consumer. Other yogurts correctly note that they contain prebiotics, but each serving may contain only a quarter to a half of the amount that research identifies as effective.

Omega-3s and plant sterols. Omega-3 fats and sterols that promote heart health are now added to some yogurts. Omega-3 fat, which has received much attention for its purported role in reducing heart disease, is naturally abundant in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. While yogurts fortified with omega-3s may convey some benefit, they often contain less than 10 percent of the amount found in a standard serving of salmon. Alternatively, many yogurts contain the plant form of omega-3s (the type of essential fatty acid supplied by flax), which does not seem nearly as potent as the compound found in seafood.

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