What Is Lactoferrin?
Lactoferrin is a protein found in milk that binds to iron, making it unavailable for use by bacteria. It is found in other bodily fluids like saliva, tears, mucus, and bile.
Lactoferrin can help protect your body against viruses and bacteria and also helps it to transport and absorb iron.
Lactoferrin is found in high concentrations in colostrum, which is a very nutrient-dense first form of breastmilk produced soon after a baby is born.2 Babies can get plenty of lactoferrin from breastmilk, while food sources are available for adults.
Some people take lactoferrin supplements for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. The lactoferrin in supplements usually comes from genetically modified rice, but it can also come from cow’s milk.
This article will discuss the different ways people use lactoferrin, the benefits some people believe it has, the side effects it can cause, what needs to be considered before taking it, possible interactions, how much of it should be taken, and where it can be found.
Purported Uses of Lactoferrin
Supplements should be used in a way that is best for the individual and approved by a healthcare professional. No supplement should be taken with the intention of treating, curing, or preventing a disease.
Lactoferrin has a wide range of purported uses. It is believed that this supplement has properties that can protect against damage from free radicals, viruses, and bacteria. There is ongoing research into the possible role that lactoferrin may play in immunity against COVID-19.
Many believe that lactoferrin can support the immune system. Research conducted in a lab rather than on humans is not as reliable because it does not happen in a real-world setting.
This is a summary of the available research on the supposed benefits of lactoferrin.
Lactoferrin is a protein that is found in many body fluids, including saliva, tears, and mucus. It is also an important part of the immune system. Lactoferrin is found in high concentrations in the mouth, where it can directly kill or inhibit the growth of viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Lactoferrin works against these pathogens in a number of ways. There are certain receptors that are specifically designed to receive lactoferrin located on many important immune cells, such as lymphocytes, monocytes, and macrophages. It is also known that lactoferrin is directly involved in increasing natural killer (NK) cell activity. A study of baby pigs found that those that were given lactoferrin were less likely to die than those that were not given the supplement, with mortality rates of 17% and 74%, respectively.
Lactoferrin is especially important to the health and function of the intestines. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been found to greatly reduce systemic and intestinal inflammation in such conditions as inflammatory bowel disease, among others. When animals are fed lactoferrin, they are much better able to resist pathogens that cause systemic and intestinal inflammation and damage.
Lactoferrin has been found to, both directly and indirectly, inhibit several viruses that cause diseases in humans, such as the common cold, flu, and stomach viruses. Lactoferrin has been shown to strongly inhibit HIV in vitro (test tube) studies. This information may be clinically relevant, as lactoferrin is a compound that could be effective in fighting viruses that cause death and ill health in humans.
Lactoferrin has the potential to be a non-toxic, anti-cancer agent. Research with animals both in a controlled laboratory environment and in vivo (in a living organism) has shown that lactoferrin is effective in fighting cancer. In multiple studies, rats and mice were exposed to a toxic chemical known to cause tumors throughout the gastrointestinal tract. These animals were also given lactoferrin, and it was shown that there was a large reduction in intestinal polyp development throughout the intestinal tract. Lactoferrin was found to be effective in suppressing the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells. The researchers concluded that lactoferrin has the potential to be an effective adjuvant therapy for pancreatic cancer.
The protein lactoferrin is best known for its ability to bind to iron. Lactoferrin comes in two forms: holo-lactoferrin, which is iron-bound, and apolactoferrin, which is iron depleted. The most powerful antimicrobial effects have been found to be in the form of apolactoferrin.
Lactoferrin is an antimicrobial that can inhibit a variety of pathogenic bacteria and other microbes. The mechanism by which lactoferrin binds iron appears to be its extremely high affinity for this metal. Many pathogenic bacteria need a supply of free iron to multiply. In the presence of lactoferrin, these bacteria are strongly inhibited or killed. A study found that adding lactoferrin to the drinking water of mice protected them from a harmful microbe called staphylococcal. Mice that were given lactoferrin as 2% of their calories had a reduced risk of kidney infection by 40%-60%. Additionally, the number of bacteria in their system was reduced by 5-12%. The researchers found that lactoferrin could be effective in preventing bacterial infections.
Lactoferrin as an Antioxidant
Lactoferrin is an antioxidant that helps control iron-based free radical reactions, thus protecting certain cells from damage. Though lactoferrin can either remove iron from cells or donate iron to them (depending on the cellular environment), it has been found to do the appropriate one at the times when the body needs it. Lactoferrin binds iron tightly at normal physiological PH, which reduces the amount of oxidative stress to tissues caused by free radical production of iron. Apolactoferrin prevents lipid peroxidation, but holo-lactoferrin does not. A study into the role of whey proteins, multi-fermented whey proteins and lactoferrin in oxidative stress concluded that all three could be potential medicinal foods in various pathologies, such as HIV infection and cancer.
New research: antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal
Other research has found that lactoferrin is effective in inhibiting a broad range of viruses. The anti-viral properties of lactoferrin were recently put to the test against hantavirus, and it was directly compared to the drug ribavirin.1 The study found that lactoferrin was effective in treating and preventing hantavirus infection. When lactoferrin was combined with ribavirin, a powerful synergism was found. ” Essentially, what the researchers are saying is that lactoferrin has the ability to prevent hantaviruses from binding to and infecting cells. This discovery is significant because it provides insight into new ways to potentially treat and prevent hantavirus infections. Lactoferrin has been found to have anti-hantaviral effects, according to this paper. This is the first report of such an effect.
Lactoferrin has been found to be a powerful anti-bacterial agent that suppresses the growth of bacteria. Scientists are investigating whether feeding animals human-derived lactoferrin, bovine-derived lactoferrin, or peptides derived from lactoferrin might be effective against urinary tract infections caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli).
UTIs are common infections in humans, especially in women. The experiment was conducted by giving human and bovine lactoferrin, as well as some peptides, to female mice via oral administration. This occurred 30 minutes after the mice had been exposed to Escherichia coli bacteria through instillation into their urinary bladders. The study found that the lactoferrin treatments significantly reduced the amount of bacteria in the kidneys and bladder of mice 24 hours later, compared to the findings for the control group. Human lactoferrin showed a strong anti-inflammatory effect, which contradicts other research. Both BLF and HLF have been found to have strong anti-inflammatory properties in previous studies, with BLF being the more powerful anti-bacterial agent. Lactoferrin, a protein found in milk, may help treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) when used in combination with other drugs. However, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness.
A clinical study was conducted to see if lactoferrin is effective in treating tinea pedis, which is a fungal infection often referred to as “athlete’s foot.” This infection can be found in other areas of the body, not just in athletes. The study found that adults who took a daily dose of either 600 mg or 2000 mg of lactoferrin for eight weeks had a significantly lower chance of developing tinea pedis than those who took a placebo. A cure for fungal infections was not seen in any of the subjects. Results showed that the groups receiving lactoferrin had significantly improved symptoms of dermatitis, such as itching and redness. Researchers concluded that lactoferrin could be potentially useful in treating tinea pedis.
Lactoferrin is a protein that may be able to protect the body against harmful organisms that cause infections like bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
Lactoferrin is found in mucosal secretions and body fluids, especially in tears and saliva.2 It has been suggested that lactoferrin’s binding action to iron does not allow bacteria to use iron to transport through the body. Lactoferrin is found in mucosal secretions and body fluids, especially in tears and saliva.
The effectiveness of lactoferrin against H. pylori infections is still being studied, but some research suggests that it may help to treat or prevent this type of bacterial infection, which can cause stomach ulcers. In a laboratory study, it was found that lactoferrin from cows can prevent the growth of H. pylori. The study found that the drug not only killed the virus but also increased the strength of the medications used to treat the infection.3 However, this study was conducted in a laboratory setting and not with human subjects.
Other studies that have focused on using lactoferrin for bacterial infections have found similar results, but more human trials should be conducted to confirm these results.
Studies have looked into whether lactoferrin can help protect against viral infections such as the common cold, flu, herpes, and gastroenteritis. Some people think that elderberry may help prevent infections by blocking viruses from attaching to healthy cells and reproducing. However, the research was based on nonhuman animals.
There is evidence that lactoferrin may prevent hepatitis C infection. Several studies have investigated the relationship.
The researchers found that lactoferrin helped to increase levels of interleukin-18, a protein that plays a key role in fighting off hepatitis C. Although the study only involved a small sample size of 63 people, it is worth noting that the results regarding lactoferrin’s role in hepatitis C prevention have been mixed.
Lactoferrin might be able to help with COVID-19, which is interesting. The preliminary research conducted on the subject has led the researchers to believe that lactoferrin could help in managing both asymptomatic and mild to moderate COVID-19.6 However, the sample size of the study conducted was small, with only 92 people involved. Larger, longer-term studies are needed before recommending lactoferrin’s use.
Lactoferrin is also thought to have anti-fungal activity.
In animal studies, it has been shown that lactoferrin may help to treat fungal infections, including yeast infections and candida. A study showed that mice with yeast infections who were given lactoferrin had less severe infections than those who weren’t given lactoferrin.
Further research is required to determine whether lactoferrin could be effective in treating bacterial, viral, or fungal infections.
Other purported but less-researched uses for lactoferrin include:
- Treating sepsis in preterm infants
- Supporting vaginal births
- Treating urinary tract infections
- Protecting against chlamydia
- Treating taste and smell changes from chemotherapy
More research is needed to support these claims. If you are interested in using lactoferrin for any purpose, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider first.
What Are the Side Effects of Lactoferrin?
However, the long-term safety of taking supplements that contain lactoferrin is unknown. Lactoferrin is found in food and is considered safe, but not much is known about the long-term effects of taking supplements that contain lactoferrin. -Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Lactoferrin is safe for consumption, according to the FDA. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Regardless, side effects are possible when using lactoferrin supplements.
Common Side Effects
Mild, common side effects can occur when taking lactoferrin. Lactoferrin may cause side effects, but these are more likely to occur when too much is taken.
All studies on lactoferrin report no side effects.
In one small, 30-day human trial, a few participants taking lactoferrin reported:
Some studies have found that taking lactoferrin may help reduce appetite in children.
Severe Side Effects
No severe side effects have been reported when taking lactoferrin.
Although it is rare, it is possible to be allergic to lactoferrin.
The study found that administering lactoferrin could produce allergens in mice when administered into the blood or mucosal tissues. In the study, the mice had an allergic reaction that caused their airways to become inflamed.
In humans, the same results have not been seen. If you have an allergic reaction, stop taking lactoferrin and see a doctor right away.
Lactoferrin is a protein found in milk. It is found in the milk of mammals like humans and cows. It’s been studied for its potential to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Lactoferrin may be effective for treating acne, osteoporosis, and other health concerns, according to some research. Before using lactoferrin, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to ensure it is safe for you.
Lactoferrin supplements cannot be recommended as a treatment for any condition because there is limited research. If you are thinking about taking it, speak to your healthcare provider first to discuss the potential risks and benefits and to see if it is right for you.