Lactose (also referred to as milk sugar) is a sugar which is found most notably in milk. Lactose makes up around 2–8% of milk (by weight). The name comes from the Latin word for milk, plus the -ose ending used to name sugars. Its systematic name is β-D-galactopyranosyl-(1↔4)β-D-glucopyranose.
Lactose has a solubility of 1 in 4.63 measured %w/v. This translates to 0.216 g of lactose dissolving readily in 1 mL of water.
The solubility of lactose in water is 18.9049 g at 25°C, 25.1484 g at 40°C and 37.2149 g at 60°C per 100 g solution. Its solubility in ethanol is 0.0111 g at 40°C and 0.0270 g at 60°C per 100 g solution.
Since lactose occurs mostly in milk, in most mammals the production of lactase gradually decreases with maturity.
Many people with ancestry in Europe, the Middle East, India, or parts of East Africa, maintain normal lactase production into adulthood. In many of these cultures, mammals such as cattle, goats, and sheep are milked for food. Hence, it was in these regions that genes for lifelong lactase production first evolved. The genes of lactose tolerance have evolved independently in various ethnic groups.