Lactoferrin is a protein composed of about 700 amino acids and first identified in 1939 in cow's milk. However, lactoferrin is also very abundant in human milk and represents a protection for newborns against gastrointestinal infections. But that's not all. In fact, lactoferrin has an antibacterial and antiviral action and, for this reason, is the focus of numerous researches for its ability to strengthen human defenses against external threats, including, it seems, the infection caused by the new coronavirus. But let's understand better.
Lactoferrin has shown immunomodulating, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, lactoferrin supplements have been shown to help fight fungal infections such as candida but also to protect the health of the urinary tract (Kell et al, Front Immunol, 2020). Not only that, it has also been observed that lactoferrin is useful to fight a wide range of viruses, including cold, gastroenteritis, herpes, hepatitis B and C virus but also SARS, which is very similar to the new coronavirus (Chang et al, Int J Antimicrob Agents, 2020). It seems that the antiviral action of lactoferrin is twofold, on the one hand it regulates the response of the host organism by stimulating the immune system and inhibiting the invasion of pathogens, preventing their entry into the cell and proliferation, on the other it helps to prevent an excessive inflammatory response on the part of the body. The latter aspect is of considerable importance. In fact, a complication of the new coronavirus infection is linked precisely to the cytokine storm, which is an excessive inflammatory response. In recent months, scientists have therefore tried to understand the benefits of lactoferrin even in the case of the new coronavirus. It has been observed that taking lactoferrin supplements in the dose of 32 mg, 4 to 7 times a day, together with 10 mg of zinc, 2 times a day, for 10 days resulted in a full recovery within 4-5 days of all the tested 75 patients with symptoms diagnosed with COVID-19 (Chang et al, Int J Antimicrob Agents, 2020).
Lactoferrin, how to take it
Lactoferrin, although it is produced by the body, and in fact can be found in breast milk, tears and saliva, can also be taken as a supplement. Generally, you can find on the market the lactoferrin obtained from bovine milk, which is safe and widely available. This is because human and bovine lactoferrin are very similar and are characterized by the same anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, immunomodulating and antiviral properties (Kell et al, Front Immunol, 2020). Lactoferrin supplements can be found in pharmacies and online, indeed, they are very easy to purchase. Precisely for this reason it is important to make some clarifications. In fact, it should be emphasized that the first line of defense against the new coronavirus is prevention, this means to prevent the infection with distancing and scrupulous implementation of hygiene measures. Then, in case of a viral infection, it is always good to contact your doctor who will assess your personal situation. Lactoferrin supplements, in the long run, can cause gastric problems, such as pain and constipation (Nappi et al, Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, 2009).