Galactose metabolism and health

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015 Jul;18(4):422-7. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000189.


Purpose of review: Galactose - a key source of energy and a crucial structural element in complex molecules - is particularly important for early human development. However, galactose metabolism might be important not only for fetal and neonatal development but also for adulthood, as evidenced by the inherited disorders of galactose metabolism. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current evidence of galactose metabolism in health and disease.

Recent findings: The biological importance of galactose goes beyond its importance as a nutrient and a metabolite. Galactose has been selected by evolutionary pressure to exert also a crucial structural role in macromolecules. Additionally, galactose has recently been reported as beneficial in a number of diseases, particularly in those affecting the brain.

Summary: Galactose is crucial for human metabolism, with an established role in energy delivery and galactosylation of complex molecules, and evidence for other roles is emerging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Metabolism*
  • Galactose / administration & dosage*
  • Galactose / blood
  • Galactose / deficiency
  • Galactosemias / blood
  • Galactosemias / drug therapy
  • Humans


  • Galactose