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Activia & Lactose Intolerance

By Jill Corleone, RDN, LD

If you're lactose-intolerant, you may have a tough time meeting your calcium needs. Dannon's Activia yogurt is not only a good source of calcium, but you may be able to enjoy it without the bloating and abdominal pain you experience when eating other types of dairy foods. If you have a severe intolerance to lactose, talk to your doctor before adding Activia to your diet.

About Lactose Intolerance

People with lactose intolerance either malabsorb lactose -- the sugar in milk and milk products like yogurt -- or lack the enzyme that breaks lactose down, which causes abdominal discomfort including gas, bloating and diarrhea after drinking milk or eating foods such as ice cream or yogurt. Due to the discomfort, many people with lactose intolerance avoid all milk products, which can affect their ability to meet their calcium and vitamin D needs. In the U.S., lactose intolerance is more common among ethnic groups including African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian Americans, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders.

A Little About Activia

Activia is a line of yogurts made by Dannon. It comes in a variety of types, including Greek, light, with fiber and as a drink, as well as a variety of flavors. The nutritional facts for Activia yogurt vary depending on your preferred type. For example, a 4-ounce serving of Activia Light contains 60 calories, 10 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein and 0 grams of fat, and it meets 15 percent of the daily value for calcium. The same serving of regular Activia contains 110 calories, 20 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat and meets 15 percent of the daily value for calcium. Adults need 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day.

Probiotic in Activia May Help With GI Discomfort

What makes Activia different from other brands of yogurt is that it contains a trademarked probiotic Dannon calls Bifidus Regularis, scientifically known as Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010. Probiotics are organisms, usually bacteria, that promote health. According to the Activia website, Bifudus Regularis helps regulate your digestive system. A study published in 2009 in the "British Journal of Nutrition" found that women without diagnosed GI disorders -- such as lactose intolerance -- but with minor GI distress who supplemented their diet with yogurt that contained Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010 twice a day had improved GI comfort.

Activia May Not Cause Lactose-Intolerant Symptoms

In general, yogurt has less lactose than other dairy products because the friendly bacteria help digest it, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Activia website says that some people with lactose intolerance may eat Activia without experiencing any discomfort. If you have lactose intolerance, you may be able to enjoy yogurt with fewer symptoms if you eat it with other foods, such as cereal or fruit, or in smaller amounts.

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