There is a lot of talk about the harmfulness of milk and the products that come from it. Here, there is a lot of lactose, which many people do not tolerate. However, it is rarely mentioned how much nutritional value is contained in this inconspicuous drink. It contains, inter alia, lactoferrin, which has many beneficial properties for our body.
Lactoferrin – what is it actually?
Lactoferrin is an active protein that occurs naturally in body fluids, in particular in human colostrum, that is in the secretion of mammary glands of the mother – an early natural diet. In addition, it is added to the milk immediately after breastfeeding. Interestingly, lactoferrin can also be found in the umbilical cord blood, in tears and in saliva, bronchi, gastric juice, urine, bile or cerebrospinal fluid, although it occurs everywhere in much smaller quantities. This substance is a transferrin glycoprotein, a positive charged and binding iron. Lactoferrin has the properties of forming reversible complexes with iron ions, and additionally takes part in the homeostasis of this element.
What characterizes lactoferrin is, inter alia, its high temperature resistance and proteolysis. Therefore, denaturation at a temperature of about 100 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes does not work on it, so the substance is able to survive, for example, in acid gastric juices or during intestinal proteolysis.
How does lactoferrin work?
The multipotent protein, which is lactoferrin, has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties,
which is why it is used, among others, in dietary supplements and other medical devices due to its health-promoting, microbial inhibition of action. First of all, this substance participates in the transport of iron, which is possible due to its ability to bind elements from the group of metals. Therefore, already in the first days of human life, this protein plays a huge role in supplying the body with necessary elements for proper functioning. All this is possible thanks to the affinity of lactoferrin for iron, which makes it capture the metal that is responsible for the growth of bacteria. What still causes the discussed protein to inhibit the multiplication of pathogens is the fact that it increases the bacterial mobility, which in turn prevents the adhesion of bacteria within human cells. What does lactoferrin protect us against? One could say that first of all. It has bacteriostatic action against Gram-negative, Gram-positive bacteria as well as against many DNA and RNA viruses. This substance additionally has antifungal properties, because it directly affects the fungal cells and causes their death.
Lactoferrin is also a protein essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. It stimulates the inflammatory response of the body, thanks to which it is able to protect itself against threats in the form of pathogens, also remembering this answer for the future, which builds our immunity. In addition, this protein is also characterized by the fact that it performs immunotropic functions, because it affects the efficient maturation of cells of the immune system.
Lactoferrin – sources
The compound in the form of lactoferrin is in the form of dietary supplements. It can be used in various forms: in solids, such as capsules, and liquid, e.g., drops and dissolution sachets. Approximately 100 mg of lactoferrin from cow’s milk are usually included in this category. Contrary to appearances, this supplement is dedicated not only to children of neonatal age, but also to adults. The preparation is worth reaching for immunity disorders, for example during various types of infections. In addition, we will certainly notice the improvement of other body functions, which translate into improvement of digestion and better appearance of the skin, hair and nails. It is worth noting that one should not be afraid of symptoms of intolerance on the part of the digestive system, because the preparations do not contain lactose.