Dietary calcium is critical for the development of the human skeleton and likely plays an important role in the prevention of osteoporosis. Dairy products provide approximately three-fourths of calcium consumed in the diet and are the most concentrated sources of this essential nutrient. One obstacle that likely interferes with calcium consumption among many ethnic groups is lactose maldigestion. The real or perceived occurrence of intolerance symptoms after dairy food consumption may cause maldigesters to avoid dairy products. Several investigators have observed a relationship between lactose maldigestion, dietary calcium and osteoporosis in Caucasian populations. Research on ethnically diverse populations is necessary to better understand how lactose maldigestion influences the risk for osteoporosis. Low calcium intakes, a greater than previously thought potential for low bone density and extensive lactose maldigestion among Hispanic-American and Asian-American populations may create an elevated risk for osteoporosis. Dietary management strategies for lactose maldigesters to increase calcium consumption include consuming (1) dairy foods with meals, (2) yogurts, (3) calcium-fortified foods, (4) using lactose digestive aids and (5) including dairy foods daily in the diet to enhance colonic metabolism of lactose.