A big shocker for many people is that popular medications – both prescription, and over the counter – often contain lactose. Some birth control pills, quick dissolve vitamin D tablets and digestion remedies include the sugar. “It acts as a filler or base, improves the drug’s bioavailability, and the taste of a quick dissolve tablet,” says Nielsen. Individuals with gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s, or celiac disease might want to discuss their medications with their specialist or pharmacist since many drugs created for such conditions also contain lactose – a surprising revelation, as many people with GI disorders have difficulties with lactose.
Nielsen says it’s important to note that every lactose intolerant person handles the ingredient differently. An amount that one person may be able to stomach could make another individual quite ill. “In a birth control, or vitamin D pill, you’re getting a tiny fraction of lactose, so some people will tolerate these medications just fine,” she says, “but if someone is doing everything right and they’re still experiencing lactose intolerant symptoms, they might have to dig deeper, and look at the lactose in their medications.”