Adult-type hypolactasia and calcium availability: decreased calcium intake or impaired calcium absorption?
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Adult-type hypolactasia, as mediated by a widespread genetic predisposition, not only reduces calcium intake but also calcium absorption in the presence of high amounts of lactose and may, therefore, promote osteoporosis. A lactose-reduced diet and lactose-free calcium supplements may reverse this imbalance.
Introduction and hypothesis
Adult-type hypolactasia (HL) defined by the LCT(−13910) polymorphism may reduce calcium intake by reducing dairy consumption and, therefore, promote osteoporosis. This study aimed to evaluate whether lactose also decreases intestinal calcium absorption in subjects with HL and whether lactose-reduced diet and lactose-free calcium supplementation as recommended could maintain bone mineral density (BMD).
Based on LCT genotyping, 73 postmenopausal women with and without HL underwent a conventional H2 breath test with a concomitant oral strontium absorption test lasting 150 minutes, which closely reflects intestinal calcium absorption. In addition, we compared bone-specific laboratory parameters, lumbar and femoral BMD, and spinal radiographs to a similar bone assessment 5 years earlier.
LCT genotyping and functional lactose malabsorption tests were highly correlated. Dairy product consumption was reduced by 80% in HL individuals. During concomitant lactose application, mean strontium absorption was blunted by 54% in HL subjects after 150 minutes (1272 ± 629 μg/L vs. 2020 ± 1130 μg/L in lactose tolerant subjects, p = 0.001). Nevertheless, BMD in HL subjects remained stable with lactose-free calcium supplements during the observation period.
Both decreased calcium intake as well as lactose-associated impaired calcium absorption may predispose subjects with HL to osteoporosis. Lactose-free calcium supplementation may help to maintain BMD in HL subjects.
KeywordsCalcium absorption Genetic testing Hypolactasia Lactose intolerance Osteoporosis Polymorphism
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