Skip to main content

Get the Scoop

Sign up to have delicious recipes, new product updates, and exclusive offers from LACTAID® delivered right in your inbox!

The information you submit will be governed by our Privacy Policy and you agree to the Financial Incentive Notice.

If you’re overwhelmed by all the options in the milk aisle, you’re in good company. We’ll sort out what the terms ‘lactose-free’ and ‘dairy-free’ really mean, discuss the benefits of drinking real dairy milk, and discuss the differences between lactose-free and dairy-free milk to help you decide what to drink.

Is Lactose-Free the Same As Dairy-Free?

Lactose-free is not the same as dairy-free. The main difference between the two is that lactose-free products can be made from real dairy milk while dairy-free products are made from plant sources such as nuts and grains. While all dairy-free products are lactose-free, not all lactose-free products are dairy-free.

Examples of our lactose-free dairy products include LACTAID® milk and LACTAID® ice cream.

Dairy-free substitutes include coconut milk, soy milk, hemp milk, oat milk and almond milk.

Is LACTAID® Dairy-Free?

No, LACTAID® products are not dairy-free. In fact, our lactose-free milk is made from 100% real dairy, just without the lactose. LACTAID® lactose-free milk provides all the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy, just without the lactose.

About 65% of people have some degree of lactose intolerance1, but that doesn’t mean its necessary to give up dairy completely. Unless you have a milk or dairy allergy, you can still enjoy the delicious taste and nutritional benefits of real milk with our lactose-free dairy options.

The Benefits of Drinking Milk

If you’re lactose intolerant, you may think it’s time to say goodbye to dairy forever – but there are ways to still enjoy milk and its health benefits.

Is Milk Good for You?

Did you know that real milk and other dairy products contain vitamins and minerals that are healthy for you? Along with a balanced diet and exercise, they can help:

  • Keep bones and teeth strong. The calcium and phosphorous in real dairy products are good for bones and teeth, protecting against tooth decay2 and diseases like osteoporosis later in life.
  • Boost muscle growth. The primary proteins found in milk such as whey and casein are good for boosting lean muscle mass3.
  • Improve bodily functions. Milk vitamins like Riboflavin (B2) and B12 assist in converting food into energy. B12 also helps the central nervous system function and aids in the formation of red blood cells4.
  • Boost the immune system. Some lactose-free milk is enriched with other milk nutrients such as vitamin D and A which may improve overall health5. Vitamin D improves calcium absorption to promote strong bones while vitamin A is good for strengthening the immune system and improving vision4.

Plant-Based Milk vs. Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk has a higher concentration of essential proteins* compared to plant-based milk.

Most plant-based milk contains thickeners and filler ingredients to try and replicate the consistency of real dairy milk. Whereas LACTAID® is 100% real milk, just without the lactose!

Plant-based milk also typically contains added sweeteners to enhance the flavor compared to real dairy milk3. This is something to keep in mind especially if you’re looking for a lactose-free option for your kids.

*Refers to the essential amino acids that make up protein.

Is Lactose-Free Milk Good for You?

Lactose-free milk is just as nutritious for you as regular dairy milk because it contains all the same essential milk vitamins and proteins, just without the lactose. This means all members of your family can enjoy the nutritional benefits and delicious real milk taste, even if they’re lactose intolerant. Learn more about lactose-free milk.

Is LACTAID® Good for You?

LACTAID® lactose-free milk is made from 100% real milk, just without the lactose – and includes all the vitamins and nutrients that come with it. Each 1-cup serving of LACTAID® whole milk has 8 grams of protein and 25% of your daily calcium. Learn about LACTAID® ingredients and how LACTAID® milk is made here.

Get the Benefits of Dairy Without the Discomfort

It’s easy to keep dairy in your diet with LACTAID® products and dietary supplements. LACTAID® lactose-free products give you and your family the freedom to keep the delicious taste and nutritional benefits of real dairy milk in your diet without discomfort. Keep enjoying the foods you love, from milk and ice cream to sour cream.

Read more about lactose intolerance, how lactose-free milk is made, and how to start cooking with LACTAID®.


Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk, dairy products, and other foods. It is broken down by an enzyme known as lactase to release a simple sugar. When not broken down, it can cause a build-up of gas in the small intestines as well as other symptoms like nausea and upset stomach.

People who are lactose intolerant may experience bloating, abdominal pain, and an upset stomach if they consume milk or dairy products containing lactose, as they are unable to properly digest lactose. Learn more about lactose intolerance.

There are multiple tests you can take on your own, but we recommend you consult with your physician on the best test for you. For example, you could take the LACTAID® sensitivity test or the intolerance quiz. For further confirmation, you can schedule a hydrogen breath test* with your doctor or dietician. You can also monitor your symptoms at home for a few weeks to see how your body copes with and without dairy products in your diet.

*Reference: Cleveland Clinic. (2022, May 3). Hydrogen Breath Test.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults can drink up to three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk a day.* Real dairy can be a key part of a balanced diet. You can drink milk before you go to bed or early in the morning with a healthy snack like whole-grain cereal or nuts.

*Reference: American Bone Health. (2019, October 19). U.S. Dietary Guidelines on Milk.

No, lactose-free milk is not dairy-free. Lactose-free milk is 100% real milk and has the same nutrients and vitamins as regular dairy milk, just without the lactose. Dairy-free milk is made from plant-based products such as almonds and soy, without any real dairy.

Several studies suggest that drinking whole milk regularly helps prevent weight gain. One school of thought is that milk is high in protein which can help you feel fuller for longer periods and prevent overeating. Further evidence also suggests that people who consume high amounts of dietary calcium (found in milk) have a lower risk of being overweight.*

Drinking milk after exercise is a great way to support new muscle growth with high-quality and natural protein. However, keep in mind that drinking excessive amounts of milk may lead to weight gain due to high calorie intake.**

Learn more about LACTAID® Protein Milk options.

*Reference: Kubala, J. (2018, March 18). 5 Ways That Drinking Milk Can Improve Your Health.

**Reference: Lizzie, S. MS. RDN. (2019, November 8). Is there a Best Time to Drink Milk?. Healthline.

Don’t see your question? Visit our FAQs page.

Lactaid 2% Reduced Fat Milk Front of Package

LACTAID® Reduced Fat 2% Lactose-Free Milk

Lactaid vanilla lactose-free ice cream

LACTAID® Lactose-Free Vanilla Ice Cream

Lactaid Fast Act Chewables lactase enzyme supplement tablets front of pack

LACTAID® Fast Act Chewable Lactase Enzyme Supplements

Enjoy the Food You Love

From milk to ice cream to cottage cheese, LACTAID® products can help satisfy all your dairy cravings. If we don’t make it, we’ll show you how to substitute a similar ingredient in your favorite recipe!

White sauce recipe in a pan with flour, milk and butter on the side. White sauce recipe in a pan with flour, milk and butter on the side. White sauce recipe in a pan with flour, milk and butter on the side.