Lactoferrin: benefits, side effects, dosages and interactions


Lactoferrin is a protein that occurs naturally in the milk of humans and cows. It is also found in various other bodily fluids such as saliva, tears, mucus, and bile. Most of the lactoferrin is found in colostrum , the first type of breast milk that is produced after the birth of a baby.

The main functions of lactoferrin in the body include the binding and transport of iron. It also helps fight infection. Some people take lactoferrin supplements because of its antioxidant and anti- inflammatory properties. Although lactoferrin powder is generally obtained from genetically modified rice, it can also come from cow's milk.

What is lactoferrin used for?

Lactoferrin and lactoferrin supplements have been extensively studied. Here's a look at the scientific evidence for the purported health benefits.


Lactoferrin protects the body from pathogenic microorganisms that cause bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.

In a 2014 report published in the Journal of Infection and Chemotherapy , researchers analyzed available research on the antiviral properties of lactoferrin and found that it can interfere with the binding of viruses to body cells and virus replication in cells. cells . It has also been found that lactoferrin can also boost the body's immune function.

H. pylori

Lactoferrin can help protect against Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection , a type of infection known to cause ulcers.

In a report published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology in 2014, researchers looked at previously published clinical trials using fermented milk and some of its constituent proteins (including lactoferrin) against Helicobacter pylori infection. The results showed that lactoferrin is derived from cow's milk. milk can help kill bacteria and reduce infections.

Hepatitis C

There is some evidence that lactoferrin can suppress hepatitis C infection. The relationship has been studied in several studies.

For example, in a 2013 study by Hepatology Research , scientists found that treatment with lactoferrin could help increase levels of interleukin-18, an immune system protein that was found to play a key role in fighting the disease. Hepatitis C. A one-year study involved 63 people with the virus .

Other studies have confirmed the benefits of lactoferrin in certain stages of the development of hepatitis C in humans. For example , in vitro studies and clinical trials have shown that lactoferrin can suppress viral replication at the intracellular level. …

However, conflicting data have been published regarding the ability of lactoferrin to prevent hepatitis C virus from entering the target cell.


In a study published in the journal Nutrition in 2010, participants consumed fermented milk with 200 milligrams (mg) of lactoferrin or fermented milk daily for 12 weeks. Acne lesions were evaluated on monthly visits.

At the end of the treatment period, those who received milk supplemented with lactoferrin showed a decrease in the number of acne lesions, the number of inflammatory lesions, the severity of acne and the amount of sebum compared to those who took the placebo. The researchers also noticed a decrease in the content of triacylglycerols (a type of fat) on the surface of the skin.

A 2017 study looked at the use of lactoferrin supplements in combination with vitamin E and zinc for three months in people with mild to moderate acne and found a decrease in the total number of acne lesions , comedones , and inflammatory lesions compared to those who took a placebo. .


Although research on the benefits of lactoferrin for bone building is very limited, preliminary research suggests that lactoferrin may help prevent osteoporosis .

In a 2015 report published in PLoS One , laboratory tests showed that lactoferrin can work with the mineral hydroxyapatite to help stimulate the growth of bone-forming cells known as osteoblasts .

In a study published in Osteoporosis International in 2009, researchers examined the use of lactoferrin supplements (enriched in ribonuclease, a substance that promotes the formation of new blood vessels) on bone health in postmenopausal women. those who took the lactoferrin supplement experienced a significant decrease in bone resorption and an increase in bone formation compared to those who took placebo.

Other use

Lactoferrin is advertised for a wide variety of other medical uses, including:

  • Boost the immune system
  • Aging damage prevention
  • Promotion of beneficial bacteria in the intestines.
  • Regulation of iron metabolism.
  • Treatment of diarrhea
  • Cancer prevention

There is insufficient evidence to support the use of lactoferrin supplements to achieve these benefits.

Possible side effects.

Lactoferrin is generally considered safe in amounts commonly found in foods like cow's milk.

When taken in excessive doses, lactoferrin can cause several side effects, such as fatigue and constipation . Skin rashes, loss of appetite, and chills have also been reported. (Consuming more lactoferrin from cow's milk may be safe, but only for a year.)

The long-term safety of using lactoferrin is unknown. It is also unknown whether lactoferrin interferes with medication.

Keep in mind that self-medicating for a condition and refusing or delaying standard treatment can have serious consequences, so it is always best to consult your doctor before using this or any other supplement.

Get Drug Information / Anastasia Tretyak

Dosage and preparation

Lactoferrin-containing supplements (usually in capsule form), widely available for purchase online, are available at many health food stores, drug stores, and supplement stores.

The correct dosage of this supplement can depend on a number of factors, including your age and health. There is no generally accepted dose range for lactoferrin.

For the treatment of hepatitis C, the studies used a bovine lactoferrin dose of 1.8 to 3.6 grams per day.

What to look for

Those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk should ensure that their supplement is made from rice and not cow's milk to avoid associated side effects.

Those on a vegan diet should also check the ingredients when choosing a product to ensure that they are not only made from rice, but that the capsule coating is not made from animal sources.

Nutritional supplements are largely not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but it is illegal to sell such a product as a treatment or treatment for a specific medical condition or to alleviate the symptoms of a disease.

When choosing a supplement, it's best to look for products that are certified by ConsumerLabs, United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), or NSF International. These organizations do not guarantee that a product is safe or effective, but they do provide some level of quality testing and ensure that what is on the label is actually in the product itself.

Get the word of drug information

Due to limited research, it is too early to recommend lactoferrin supplements for any medical condition. If you plan to use it, speak with your doctor first to weigh the potential risks and benefits and discuss whether it is right for you.

Frequently asked questions

  • Lactoferrin binds to iron and carries it throughout the body. It also helps fight infection. It prevents bacterial growth by binding to iron and preventing it from providing nutrients to bacteria.

  • Stool lactoferrin tests help detect inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. If the level of lactoferrin in your stool is high, you may need additional tests to detect inflammatory bowel disease .

  • You can see the word apolactoferrin on the supplement bottles. Apolactoferrin is part of lactoferrin. More than 90% of the lactoferrin in human milk is in the form of apolactoferrin. This form does not contain ferric iron.

  • Since medicinal lactoferrin can be obtained from cows, consumers were concerned that mad cow disease could occur with supplementation. While it is possible, the risk is considered very small.

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