As the name suggests, lactoferrin is a protein mostly found in cow and human milk . It is a multifunctional protein that is also present in several other secretory fluids, including tears, nasal secretions, and saliva. The highest concentration of lactoferrin is found in human colostrum, the first milk produced by a mother once her baby is born.
How does lactoferrin work?
The protein helps in the absorption of iron by the intestines . It also regulates the delivery of the mineral to the body’s cells. Lactoferrin acts as an antimicrobial by inhibiting the growth of bacteria. It deprives the bacterial cells of nutrients and also destroys their cell walls. Babies who have been breast-fed have stronger immunity against bacterial infections as opposed to infants who have not been breast-fed. Along with antibacterial properties, lactoferrin also actively fights against viral and fungal infections .
Lactoferrin also plays a major role in boosting your body’s immune system. Another role it plays is its involvement in the regulation of bone marrow function.
Benefits of lactoferrin
This iron-binding protein has multiple benefits for the human body. In the case of newborn infants, the lactoferrin in colostrum activates their immune systems rapidly. The colostrum also contains very strong white blood cells that eliminate bad micro-organisms in the infant’s stomach . It also contains biochemicals that prevent harmful bugs from entering the baby’s body through the intestinal walls. The lactoferrin prevents these harmful microbes from multiplying and growing in the baby’s body .
Here are some benefits of lactoferrin listed below:
• Hepatitis C: Studies have shown that lactoferrin may control hepatitis C infections. These studies state that lactoferrin triggers the increase in the production of immune system protein Interlukin-18, which is known to play a major role in warding off the hepatitis C virus.
• Iron uptake: It has been reported that lactoferrin has boosted the levels of iron in pregnant women and infants. It promotes the absorption of iron through the intestinal walls. It also aids in the transport of iron to your body’s cells.
• Bone health: Lactoferrin helps in building bones and preventing osteoporosis. It reportedly helps in the growth of osteoblasts, cells that are responsible for the formation of bones.
• Ulcers: Lactoferrin from cow milk is known to effectively prevent the growth of ulcer causing micro-organisms.
• Defense against flu: Lactoferrin has antiviral properties, so this protein is very effective against viral infections.
• Lactoferrin is also used in alternative medicine as a natural cure for health problems such as diarrhoea, treating iron deficiency, slow down ageing, promote the growth of good bacteria, and also help in preventing cancer .
Lactoferrin has several health benefits and plays an important role in maintaining a good bill of health. Consume foods rich in lactoferrin such as cow milk to keep your immunity at maximum and keep yourself safe from infections and diseases.