Goat’s Milk, Lactose Intolerance and Milk Allergies
A milk allergy is not the same thing as lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and some dairy products. A relatively large population of world suffers from a deficiency of lactase, an enzyme used to digest lactose. This deficiency results in the condition known as lactose intolerance (mtcapra.2010).
Milk allergies, on the other hand, occur when the immune system mistakes milk proteins (most commonly the alpha S1-casein protein) as something the body should fight off. In other words, a milk allergy is a reaction to milk proteins, while lactose intolerance is caused by sensitivity to the “milk sugar” found in some dairy products (KidsHealth.org, 2011).
Goat’s milk is less allergenic
All milk contains a certain level of lactose. However, the amount of lactose found in goat’s milk is about 10 percent less than cow’s milk and about 40 percent less than human milk. The lower levels of lactose found in goat’s milk products can make it a suitable alternative.
In addition, the levels of alpha S1 casein in goat’s milk are about 90 percent less than cow’s milk, making it a far less allergenic food. As a result, consumers that are allergic to cow’s milk may be able to consume goat’s milk products.
This is an important distinction to make since milk allergies are the most common food allergy in the U.S. for children under the age of three. It is estimated that 5 percent of all Canadians are allergic to the alpha S1 casein proteins found in high levels in cow’s milk (mtcapra.com, 2010).