Lactose: Nutritional Significance

  • A. Mustapha
  • S. R. Hertzler
  • D. A. Savaiano


Evolutionary development has resulted in the synthesis of a galactose-containing disaccharide, lactose, which is secreted into mammalian milk as the primary carbohydrate source for mammals. The benefit to the species of this unique carbohydrate (and its constituent monosaccharide, galactose) is not completely clear. It may be that dietary galactose plays an important role in membrane structure and function in the neonate. It is also plausible that lactose solubility is best matched to milk synthesis and expression. The synthesis of a disaccharide, as opposed to a polysaccharide or monosaccharide, is also of evolutionary interest. This disaccharide may provide appropriate energy while minimizing osmotic load. Hence, the evolutionary development of a disaccharidase in the neonatal intestine was also necessary for the cleavage of this unique carbohydrate and the utilization of its constituent monosaccharides.


Lactose Intolerance Breath Hydrogen Lactase Persistence Lactase Activity Lactose Content 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Mustapha
  • S. R. Hertzler
  • D. A. Savaiano

There are no affiliations available

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