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Lactose is the only common sugar that is of animal origin Other sugars such as sucrose and fructose can be found only in plants In nature the only place you can find lactose is in the milk of mammals Lactose is the principal carbohydrate found in milk and composes about 2 to 8 percent of milk in all mammals Although milk and other dairy products are the only natural sources of lactose this sugar can also be found in many prepared foods This information is particularly important to those who are lactose intolerant meaning their bodies are unable to digest lactose Some foods that may contain lactose include bread breakfast cereals lunch meats and salad dressings Under ordinary conditions of use and storage lactose is stable and does not tend to react with the air around it However when heated to decomposition lactose may form hazardous carbon dioxide CO2 and carbon monoxide CO In the human body an enzyme called lactase decomposes lactose during the digestive process Each lactose molecule is broken down into one glucose C6H12O6 and one galactose C6H12O6 molecule Lactose Intolerance When the word lactose is mentioned in everyday life it is usually in the context of lactose intolerance Lactose intolerance is a condition in which the body is unable to digest significant amounts of lactose This condition is caused by a shortage of the enzyme lactase which is normally produced in the small intestine During the normal digestive process lactose is broken down by lactase into its
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