Galactose

A Abi-Hanna and J M Saavedra,

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore,

MD, USA

© 1999 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

This article is reproduced from the previous edition, pp. 915-922, © 1999, Elsevier Ltd.

Lactose, a disaccharide composed of glucose and galactose, is the principal sugar of mammalian milk and the principal carbohydrate energy source for infants and children; thus galactose plays a central metabolic role in human nutrition. Lactose is hydrolyzed in the intestine into glucose and galactose, which together with other sources of these monosaccharides are absorbed and metabolized and used as energy. Galactose additionally is an important constituent of complex polysaccharides, galactolipids, and other glycoconjugates of structural and functional importance. Both absorptive as well as metabolic defects affecting galactose have been described.

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