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Lactose (Molecule of the Month for December 1996)

Complex Carbohydrates



Complex Carbohydrates are made up of two or more simple sugars linked together. The following carbohydrates are disaccharides. Disaccharides are compounds that contain a bond between carbon(1) of one sugar and a hydroxyl group at any position on the other sugar.

Lactose is a disaccharide that occurs naturally in both human and cow's milk. It is widely used in baking and in commercial infant-milk formulas.

Like cellobiose and maltose, lactose is a reducing sugar. It exhibits muta - rotation and is a 1,4'-beta-linked glycoside. Unlike cellobiose and maltose, however, lactose contains two dif~erent monosaccharide units. Acidic hydrolysis of lactose yields 1 equiv of D-glucose and 1 equiv of D-galactose; the two are joined by a beta-glycoside bond between C1 of galactose and C4 of glucose.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)

Picture of Lactose

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Lactose structure
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Picture of Lactose



Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for December 1996 )