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what is lactase

Lactase is an enzyme produced by many organisms. It is located in the brush border of the small intestine of humans and other mammals. Lactase is essential to the complete digestion of whole milk; it breaks down lactose, a sugar which gives milk its sweetness. Lacking lactase, a person consuming dairy products may experience the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Lactase can be purchased as a food supplement, and is added to milk to produce “lactose-free” milk products.

Lactase (also known as lactase-phlorizin hydrolase, or LPH), a part of the β-galactosidase family of enzymes, is a glycoside hydrolase involved in the hydrolysis of the disaccharide lactose into constituent galactose and glucose monomers. Lactase is present predominantly along the brush border membrane of the differentiated enterocytes lining the villi of the small intestine. In humans, lactase is encoded by the LCT gene