|Galactose is an aldohexose epimeric with glucose at the 4 carbon but less soluble and less sweet, occurring naturally in both D- and L- forms (the latter in plants), it is a component of lactose and other oligosaccharides, cerebrosides and gangliosides, and
various glycolipids and glycoproteins. Galactose is more commonly found in the disaccharide, lactose or milk sugar. It is found as the monosaccharide in peas. Galactose is classified as a monosaccharide, an aldose, a hexose, and is a reducing sugar. Galactose (also called brain sugar) is a type of sugar found in dairy products, in sugar beets and other gums and mucilages. It is also synthesized by the body, where it forms part of glycolipids and glycoproteins in several tissues. Galactose is less sweet than glucose and not very water-soluble.
Galactose is an essential sugar found in abundance in the diet. Galactose is a monosaccharide constituent, together with glucose, of the disaccharide lactose. The hydrolysis of lactose to glucose and galactose is catalyzed by the enzyme beta-galactosidase, a lactase. In the human body, glucose is changed into galactose in order to enable the mammary glands to secrete lactose. Individuals who lack this enzyme are 'lactose intolerant' and unable to realize the nutritive potential of milk sugars. The lactose then passes to the large intestine where it is digested by bacteria, producing gas and flatulence. Galactose is mainly used as an energy source. Its interconversion to glucose is prevented by an enzyme deficiency in the condition galactosaemia. Galactose has been widely used to assess liver function based on its enzymatic biotransformation to glucose, and as a nutrient for glucose-intolerant neonates.
Galactose is one of the hexoses in lactose. Galactose resembles glucose in chemical structure. Glucose is the main sugar metabolized by the body for energy. Galactose can easily be converted into glucose when needed for energy and can be formed from glucose, dietary sources of galactose are still important to maintain an epimerase enzyme-mediated equilibrium. Galactose inhibits tumor growth and its spread (metastasis), especially to the liver. Galactose does not stimulate insulin secretion in humans. Galactose appears to help correct many disorders, including enhancing wound healing, decreasing inflammation, and stimulating calcium absorption. It also appears to help lower the risk of developing cataracts. Dietary galactose is also important in maintaining normal bacterial flora in the intestines. Prolonged use of Galactose has proven to increase the number of Bifidobacteria while providing the proper environment for other beneficial bacteria in the human gut.