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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lactitol - Another Nondairy "Lact"

I'm getting a rash of "lact" queries following my posts on Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate and Not all "Lact" Words Are the Same.

Lactitol is a sugar alcohol. It's similar to other sugar alcohols like sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, and maltitol. Those all may sound familiar because they are used as sugar substitutes. It's not just that sugar alcohols are mostly less sweet than sugar or have fewer calories. They don't react in the body the same way that sugar - sucrose - does and so they can be used by diabetics.

The problem with sugar alcohols is that they cause digestive complaints in many people. These may include abdominal pain, gas, and mild to severe diarrhea. Do these also sound familiar? Right. They're exactly the symptoms of lactose intolerance. They're even caused by one of the same mechanisms, the drawing of water into the intestinal tract where it is normally removed.

It's true that lactitol is made from lactose in a process called catalytic hydrogenation. Even so, the amount of lactose present in a sample of lactitol will be extremely tiny at most.

There might by a problem for the most severely allergic because a few micrograms of protein might remain in a sizable serving of lactitol.

The European Food Safety Authority has ruled:

Based on the data submitted, and assuming a lactose content in lactitol of less than 0.2% and a daily intake of lactitol of 10-20g, intolerance reactions due to lactose are unlikely since the intake of lactose would be up to 0.04g which is lower than the dose of 10g generally tolerated in lactose mal-digesters.

The applicant bases the evidence that lactitol preparations do not trigger cow’s milk allergic reactions on analytical data regarding the residual content of the two major milk proteins in lactitol preparations (up to 3.2mg/kg for casein and 9.7mg/kg for lactoglobulin). A double blind placebo controlled food challenge in five cow’s milk allergic children did not show an allergic reaction to lactitol.

Taking into account the data submitted, the Panel considers that it is unlikely that lactitol will cause adverse reactions in lactose intolerant individuals.

Further, taking into account the data submitted, the Panel considers that it is not very likely that lactitol will trigger adverse reactions in cow’s milk allergic individuals under the conditions of use specified by the applicant.

Since a kilogram is 1000 grams and a daily intake of lactitol is given as 10 grams, the amount of protein in an average daily serving of lactitol is therefore 32 micrograms of casein and 97 micrograms for lactoglobulin. These are tiny amounts except for the few individuals for whom even nanograms, 1/1000 the amount of a microgram, are of concern.

Sugar alcohols present a variety of problems and issues that are hard to sort out for any particular individual. You may see digestive complaints whether you are lactose intolerant or not, and you may be perfectly fine either way. Those far out at the end of the bell curve of reactions should probably avoid lactitol, but you'll have to test yourself to see whether any of the other sugar alcohols may affect you.

Bookmark and Share


Kary said...

haha i am vegan...i found these cookies that my mom bought and read the ingredients and saw lactitol and it does sounds like lactic or something i google it and found this blog... :) to be sure, before eating a cookie.. yay i can eat them! :)

Vegan said...

Didn't you read? Lactitol are NOT Vegan it's based on milk sugar from whey. Lactose intolerant can eat it but NOT vegans.