Is lactic acid dairy? It sounds like lactose!
It is amazing how words can trip us up. Especially if we are at the receiving end of a food intolerance or allergy. If you are, you know just how awful it is to ingest the very thing that you are allergic to. So it is natural to have a healthy dose of paranoia when things sound borderline like lactose or lactic or lactase or even lactate...... mmm,,, this sounds like it can only end up in a bad place!
For vegans it is even worse, if you don't know what lactic acid is and you see it in your vegan product, you may just think the manufacturer is pulling the wool over your eyes.
So let me break it down for you in the simplest possible terms to take the worry out of it. So lets look at these few words quickly and then you don't have to worry anymore.
Lets start with the easy and most commonly known one first. Lactose. The simplest way to explain it is that it is a sugar found in dairy milk. It is a sugar that the adult human body in most instances struggle to break down because we we miss a key element in our digestive system which the infants of most mammals posses - who are, by the way, the actual intended recipients of milk - as milk is only intended for the early stages in life, and this is called Lactase. According to Wikipedia "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"
Are you with me so far? Good, so then what is Lactate? Lactates are salts derived from the neutralisation of lactic acid, and not a dairy. What does that mean? Lactate is one of the substances produced by cells as the body turns food into energy (cell metabolism), with the highest level of production occurring in the muscles.
So then what is Lactic Acid? Is it dairy? Let me answer the second question first, NO it is not dairy, nor is it derived from animal origin. So what is lactic acid and how is this food ingredient made? Simply put, lactic acid is an organic acid that is produced through fermentation which is a process where yeasts, mold, fungi, or bacteria break down carbohydrates -- like sugar and starch -- into alcohol, gas, and acids. The type used in the food industry is produced primarily from sugar and NO, it does not contain sugar in any form!
There is another instance of lactic acid, and that is when your muscles produce it after physical exertion and when this acid crystallises....well .. does the term 'no pain no gain' mean anything to anyone? Yup, it is dear old lactic acid produced by your body after that rigorous gym workout that is responsible for that. Rest assured though, this is not the lactic acid you ingest in your food, so don't go all out stressed on me now! Deep breath, it is different and it is normal and drinking lots of water and eating foods rich in natural vitamin C and taking a good L-Glutamine supplement after your workout, will go al long way to prevent the pain after a workout and also to help you recover. But I digress. So now you know the basic differences between these confusion words ... right?
Conclusion: The Lactic Acid listed in your ingredients label isn't dairy and doesn't contain dairy. So those of you with lactose concerns, take a deep breath, you'll be okay.