Milk is a staple in fridges across the country. It’s the perfect addition to your morning bowl of cereal, can add creaminess to your soups and smoothies, or tastes delicious on its own in a big chilled glass.
But what if you struggle with lactose intolerance? Does that mean that you have to eliminate milk from your diet forever? Or is there another option?
Luckily, milk companies have really jumped on board with creating lactose-free milk products that taste just as good as their regular counterparts.
Lactose is the primary sugar found in milk and some people lose their ability to digest it after a certain age.
In order to break down lactose you need to produce a certain enzyme called lactase. As you age, sometimes the body stops producing enough lactase to comfortably digest milk products.
Some estimates put the number of people with lactose intolerance all the way at 65%, with some differences across ethnicities and locations. But by choosing lactose-free milk you can enjoy the flavor and nutrition without any of the side effects.
So, how do you choose the best lactose-free milk brands? Look for a lactose-free milk brand that contains the lactase enzyme, has added vitamins A and D, comes from organic or Grade A milk, and doesn’t contain any growth hormones.
Read on to discover the 7 best lactose-free milk brands!
How to Choose the Best Lactose-Free Milk
When you’re choosing the best lactose-free milk for you, the first thing you have to do is figure out what kind of milk you’re looking for and how you’re going to use it.
Do you want a thick, whole milk? Are you looking for a low fat or skim milk to use in cereal? Do you want a shelf-stable milk to bring with you on the go?
Below I’ve highlighted different types of milk so that whatever your preference you will find a great lactose-free version to try out.
Contains Lactase Enzyme
To remove the lactose from milk, many companies will use a lactose-digesting enzyme called lactase. This enzyme will break down the lactose sugar in the milk so that your body doesn’t have to try to break it down for you.
When you have a lactose intolerance, your body doesn’t tend to make enough lactase, which is what can lead to the uncomfortable symptoms you might experience when drinking regular milk.
By adding lactase to their products you are left with a delicious lactose-free product that still tastes exactly like regular milk.
Fortified With Vitamins A & D
Many of the best quality milks will add extra vitamin A and D to their products to round out the nutrient profile of their product. Adding a lactose-free milk to your meal is a great way to get your calcium and vitamins for the day.
When milk-producing cows are fed an organic diet, the benefits in terms of flavor and nutrition pass along into the milk that you get to enjoy.
Organic milk also comes from cows that aren’t given growth hormones or antibiotics, both of which may end up passing into their milk.
By choosing an organic product you will get a pure, flavorful glass of milk, without the potential contamination from pesticides and antibiotics.
Grade A Milk
If you can’t find certified organic milk, Grade A milk is what you want to look for on the label. This classification indicates that your milk has been processed in a clean and sanitary environment without any contamination.
Look for Milk That Is rBST Free
rBST is short for recombinant bovine somatotropin. This compound is a type of artificial growth hormone that increases milk production.
It is illegal for use in some countries, such as the European Union and Canada.
The issue with using rBST is that it may cause more infections in the cows who are taking it.
These increased infections will require more treatments with antibiotics and as we’ve seen above, those antibiotics can pass into their milk, which passes into your body.
Bonus: A2 Protein Milk
Sometimes people with lactose intolerances may also be sensitive to some of the proteins in dairy, which can lead to similar uncomfortable symptoms as lactose intolerance.
Generally the protein that people would react to is an A1 protein in milk.
Some companies are starting to offer milk that doesn’t contain any A1 protein and that comes from cows that only produce A2 proteins.
This difference can make the milk easier to digest so that you can still enjoy all the flavor and nutrition of a great glass of milk.
|1.||Organic Valley 2% Lactose-Free Milk||Pasture-raised cows|
|2.||Horizon Organic Lactose-Free 2% Milk||Creamy taste|
|3.||365 by Whole Foods Market, Organic Grade A Milk||Great price point|
|4.||Clover Sonoma Lactose Free 2% Reduced Fat Milk||Family-owned|
|5.||SCHREIBER 2% Lactose-Free Milk||Shelf-stable|
|6.||Natrel Lactose Free 2% Milk||Shelf-stable|
|7.||fairlife 2% Reduced Fat Ultra-Filtered, Lactose Free Milk||Available in smaller packages|
1. Organic Valley 2% Lactose-Free Milk
Kicking off our list is a great 2% organic lactose-free milk from Organic Valley that comes from pasture-raised cows.
Cows who are raised on pasture tend to have more nutrient-dense and flavorful milk.
This product also contains lactase to naturally break down the lactose found in milk, while still preserving the great taste and nutrition found in a glass of regular milk.
Since it is organic, it doesn’t contain any rBST. This company also fortifies their milk with vitamins A and D.
2. Horizon Organic Lactose-Free 2% Milk
The next milk on our list is another great 100% USDA certified organic choice from Horizon Organic.
It has added lactase to break down the milk sugar called lactose that causes the digestive issues commonly seen in lactose intolerance.
It is also fortified with vitamins A and D for maximum nutrition. This milk has a great flavor and you won’t even be able to tell that it is lactose-free unless you read the label.
Since this milk is organic, you know it won’t contain any residual pesiticides, antibiotics, or hormones.
If you are looking for an option that has a bit more milk fat for a creamier taste and texture then you might want to try the Horizon Organic Lactose-Free Whole Milk.
3. 365 by Whole Foods Market, Organic Grade A Milk
This option from Whole Foods in-house brand 365 is made from USDA Certified Organic Grade A milk and offers a great price point for a lactose-free brand.
This company prides themselves on not ultra-pasteurizing their milk, which means it has a shorter shelf-life, but a richer flavor.
Ultra-pasteurization heats the milk to a higher temperature, which can impact the final flavor.
It contains the lactase enzyme to break the lactose sugar down into two more easily digestible sugars called glucose and galactose.
This breakdown will help relieve the symptoms of lactose intolerance so that you can enjoy a glass of milk, pain-free. It also has added vitamins A and D.
4. Clover Sonoma Lactose-Free 2% Reduced Fat Milk
The next two brands on the list are relatively equal in terms of quality, so the choice will come down to what flavor you prefer and the price that works best for your budget.
Clover Sonoma is a great choice because it is made from milk from family-owned farms in Northern California.
Like the other brands on this list, they add lactase and vitamins A and D to their milk to remove the lactose and improve the nutrition.
Their cows are not treated with rBST and are cared for under the terms of the American Humane Certified animal welfare standards.
And it may not be scientifically proven, but I think that happy cows make happy and delicious milk!
As an added bonus, Clover Sonoma also does daily and weekly testing of their milk to make sure that it is well below state and federal requirements for bacteria counts in their product.
This ensures a safe and delicious milk makes it to your table.
If you are looking for a creamier milk option, they also make a lactose-free whole milk.
Finally, if chocolate milk is your favorite they have a lactose-free whole chocolate milk for a decadent and creamy option.
5. SCHREIBER 2% Lactose-Free Milk
The next milk on the list, SCHREIBER, is another option for those looking for a great-lactose free milk.
It is made from Grade A milk from cows not treated with rBST.
It has added vitamins A and D and contains lactase to improve digestion and reduce lactose intolerance symptoms.
It is pasteurized at a high temperature for shelf stability, so it does not require refrigeration.
If 2% milk isn’t your favorite, they also sell a lactose-free whole milk that’s going to be a lot creamier.
If you’re looking for a lower fat choice they sell a 1% lactose-free milk too.
6. Natrel Lactose-Free 2% Milk
The next two brands on this list are both shelf-stable. These options are great for people who want to be able to bring their milk with them wherever they go or who want to stock up their pantry, but don’t have tons of room in their fridge.
Natrel Lactose-Free Milk doesn’t contain any additives or preservatives and relies on a pasteurization and sealing process to keep their milk fresh even outside the fridge.
They use lactase in their milk to help break down the lactose for an intolerance-friendly choice. The milk is also fortified with vitamins A and D.
They have several other options for lactose-free milk if you want to try different amounts of milk fat for a more or less creamy product, including Natrel 1% Lactose-Free Milk and Natrel Lactose-Free Whole Milk.
7. fairlife 2% Reduced Fat Ultra-Filtered, Lactose-Free Milk
The last option on our list comes in 52 oz packages, but also in smaller serving-size packages that are shelf stable. If you have kids or travel a lot for work, then the fairlife lactose-free milk might be the perfect choice for you.
The smaller ones come in 14 fluid ounce sized bottles that you can keep in the pantry or chill in the fridge.
This milk contains lactase and some added vitamins A and D. It also contains some vitamin E as a natural preservative.
It does contain natural flavors, which means it might have a slightly different taste than pure lactose-free milk.
It also doesn’t say that it comes from Grade A milk, so that is something else to keep in mind when deciding whether this milk is the right choice for you.
Bonus: The A2 Milk Company 2% Milk
If you have found that cutting out lactose hasn’t eliminated your reactions to milk, you might actually be sensitive to the specific type of protein, called casein, found in dairy products.
Many brands use milk that is high in casein A1, which can trigger uncomfortable symptoms in people who are sensitive or allergic to that protein.
This company uses milk that is guaranteed to contain only casein A2, which is much less likely to cause digestive or sinus issues.
This brand contains added vitamins A and D and is free from rBST. While it’s not lactose-free, it may be worth trying if you’ve experimented with the brands above, but still find yourself struggling with symptoms after you drink your milk.
They also sell creamier whole milk made that contains only casein A2 proteins.
If you’re looking for a no-fat option, then you will want to try their fat-free version.
Another cool choice is their powdered milk, which is perfect if you want to keep some in your bag or bring it with you while you travel. It comes in a resealable bag and is shelf stable.
Final Thoughts: How to Choose the Best Lactose-Free Milk
Whether you struggle with lactose intolerance or have a friend or family member who does, you are now well-equipped with all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision on how to choose the best lactose-free milk.
Remember to look for brands that contain lactase enzymes, have added vitamins A and D, come from organically raised cows, are Grade A certified, and don’t contain any growth hormones.
Up Next: Can You Freeze Lactose-Free Milk?