Lactoferrin is a protein found naturally in cow and human milk. Colostrum, the first milk that develops after a baby is born, is especially rich in the protein. It’s also found within fluids in the nose, respiratory tract, eyes, intestines, and elsewhere.
What Is the Role of Lactoferrin?
This protein binds with iron and cooperates with other proteins to metabolize iron and form energy, store and transport oxygen, and support detoxification. It’s also involved with the production of blood cells and the body’s ability to fight off infection. Research suggests exercising could increase lactoferrin. In some cases, supplementation could have several benefits.
Specifically, lactoferrin has been shown to:
- Improve iron absorption in women, including athletes and pregnant women, as well as in infants
- Reduce body fat in individuals with obesity
- Control inflammation and oxidative stress in patients with hepatitis C
Additionally, lactoferrin appears to help fight off infections caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It seems to slow the growth of bacteria. With these health-promoting properties, lactoferrin can help:
- Treat diarrhea
- Reduce swelling of the liver
- Treat anemia
- Help control cold symptoms
- Help treat blood infections
Other potential applications for lactoferrin may include wound healing, allergy treatment, immune system health, and optimal health of key organs, including the lungs.
In some cases, elevated levels of lactoferrin could be indicative of underlying disease. For instance, fecal samples with high levels of lactoferrin can indicate the presence of irritable bowel syndrome. When found in blood or tears, it could indicate other types of disease.
If you’re considering lactoferrin supplements to support your wellness goals, consider speaking with a physician for proper dosing recommendations.
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