Lactoferrin helps regulate how well iron is absorbed into the body from the intestine. It also seems to protect against infections from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The lactoferrin in breastmilk is thought to help protect breast-fed infants against infections..
People commonly use lactoferrin for low iron levels during pregnancy and for preventing blood infections (sepsis) in premature infants. It is also used for diarrhea, common cold, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these other uses.
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- Low iron levels during pregnancy. Taking lactoferrin as a source of iron during pregnancy is about as effective as taking iron supplements by mouth and might be as effective as an iron injection given by a healthcare provider.
- Blood infection (sepsis). Giving lactoferrin by mouth to premature infants might help prevent serious blood infections.
Likely InEffective for
- Death of an unborn or premature baby. Taking lactoferrin does not seem to prevent the death of premature infants.
- A serious intestinal disease in premature infants (necrotizing enterocolitis or NEC). Taking lactoferrin does not seem to prevent premature infants from developing NEC.
When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if lactoferrin is safe. It might cause skin irritation.
When administered into the vagina: There isn't enough reliable information to know if lactoferrin is safe or what the side effects might be.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Breast-feeding: Lactoferrin is commonly consumed in foods. But there isn't enough reliable information to know if taking larger amounts used as medicine by mouth or as vaginal tablets are safe when breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.
Children: In infants and young children, lactoferrin is possibly safe when added to formula or other foods, such as yogurt. There isn't enough reliable information to know if lactoferrin is safe to use in children over 6 years old.
We currently have no information for LACTOFERRIN overview.
Di Mario F, Aragona G, Bo ND, et al. Use of lactoferrin for Helicobacter pylori eradication. Preliminary results. J Clin Gastroenterol 2003;36:396-8. View abstract.
Di Mario F, Aragona G, Dal Bo N, et al. Use of bovine lactoferrin for Helicobacter pylori eradication.Dig Liver Dis 2003;35:706-10. . View abstract.
Dial EJ, Hall LR, Serna H, et al. Antibiotic properties of bovine lactoferrin on Helicobacter pylori. Dig Dis Sci 1998;43:2750-6. View abstract.
Drobni P, Naslund J, Evander M. Lactoferrin inhibits human papillomavirus binding and uptake in vitro. Antiviral Res 2004;64:63-8. View abstract.
ELFIN trial investigators group. Enteral lactoferrin supplementation for very preterm infants: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2019 Feb 2;393(10170):423-433. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32221-9. View abstract.
Farnaud S, Evans RW. Lactoferrin--a multifunctional protein with antimicrobial properties. Mol Immunol 2003;40:395-405. View abstract.
Food and Drug Administration, CFSAN/Office of Food Additive Safety. Agency Response Letter GRAS Notice No. GRN 000130. 2003. Available at: https://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~rdb/opa-g130.html (Accessed 29 June 2005).
Gao Y, Hou L, Lu C, et al. Enteral lactoferrin supplementation for preventing sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants: A meta-analysis with trial sequential analysis of randomized Controlled Trials. Front Pharmacol. 2020 Aug 7;11:1186. View abstract.
Guttner Y, Windsor HM, Viiala CH, Marshall BJ. Human recombinant lactoferrin is ineffective in the treatment of human Helicobacter pylori infection. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2003;17:125-9. View abstract.
Hablass FH, Lashen SA, Alsayed EA. Efficacy of Lactoferrin with Standard Triple Therapy or Sequential Therapy for Helicobacter pylori Eradication: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Turk J Gastroenterol 2021;32(9):742-749. View abstract.
Harmsen MC, Swart PJ, de Bethune MP, et al. Antiviral effects of plasma and milk proteins: lactoferrin shows potent activity against both human immunodeficiency virus and human cytomegalovirus replication in vitro. J Infect Dis 1995;172:380-8. View abstract.
Hirashima N, Orito E, Ohba K, et al. A randomized controlled trial of consensus interferon with or without lactoferrin for chronic hepatitis C patients with genotype 1b and high viral load. Hepatol Res 2004;29:9-12. View abstract.
Ishibashi Y, Takeda K, Tsukidate N, et al. Randomized placebo-controlled trial of interferon alpha-2b plus ribavirin with and without lactoferrin for chronic hepatitis C. Hepatol Res 2005;32:218-23. View abstract.
Ishii K, Takamura N, Shinohara M, et al. Long-term follow-up of chronic hepatitis C patients treated with oral lactoferrin for 12 months. Hepatol Res 2003;25:226-233. View abstract.
Itell HL, Berenz A, Mangan RJ, Permar SR, Kaufman DA. Systemic and mucosal levels of lactoferrin in very low birth weight infants supplemented with bovine lactoferrin. Biochem Cell Biol. 2020 Aug 25. View abstract.
Iwasa M, Kaito M, Ikoma J, et al. Lactoferrin inhibits hepatitis C virus viremia in chronic hepatitis C patients with high viral loads and HCV genotype 1b. Am J Gastroenterol 2002;97:766-7.
Kaito M. Use of lactoferrin for chronic hepatitis C. Hepatol Res 2005;32:200-1. View abstract.
Defer MC, Dugas B, Picard O, Damais C. Impairment of circulating lactoferrin in HIV-1 infection. Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand) 1995;41:417-21. View abstract.
Abu Hashim H, Foda O, Ghayaty E. Lactoferrin or ferrous salts for iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy: A meta-analysis of randomized trials. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2017;219:45-52. View abstract.
Algahtani FD, Elabbasy MT, Samak MA, Adeboye AA, Yusuf RA, Ghoniem ME. The Prospect of Lactoferrin Use as Adjunctive Agent in Management of SARS-CoV-2 Patients: A Randomized Pilot Study. Medicina (Kaunas) 2021;57(8):842. View abstract.
Bellamy W, Takase M, Wakabayashi H, et al. Antibacterial spectrum of lactoferricin B, a potent bactericidal peptide derived from the N-terminal region of bovine lactoferrin. J Appl Bacteriol 1992;73:472-9. View abstract.
Bethell DR, Huang J. Recombinant human lactoferrin treatment for global health issues: iron deficiency and acute diarrhea. Biometals 2004;17:337-42. View abstract.
Björmsjö M, Hernell O, Lönnerdal B, Berglund SK. Reducing Iron Content in Infant Formula from 8 to 2 mg/L Does Not Increase the Risk of Iron Deficiency at 4 or 6 Months of Age: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients 2020;13(1):3. View abstract.
Chen K, Jin S, Chen H, et al. Dose effect of bovine lactoferrin fortification on diarrhea and respiratory tract infections in weaned infants with anemia: A randomized, controlled trial. Nutrition 2021;90:111288. View abstract.
Conneely OM. Antiinflammatory activities of lactoferrin.J Am Coll Nutr 2001;20:389S-395S. View abstract.
Darwish AM, Fouly HA, Saied WH, Farah E. Lactoferrin plus health education versus total dose infusion (TDI) of low-molecular weight (LMW) iron dextran for treating iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2019 Jul;32(13):2214-2220. View abstract.
Kaufman DA, Berenz A, Itell HL, et al. Dose escalation study of bovine lactoferrin in preterm infants: Getting the dose right. Biochem Cell Biol. 2020 Aug 26. View abstract.
Kruzel ML, Harari Y, Chen CY, Castro GA. The gut. A key metabolic organ protected by lactoferrin during experimental systemic inflammation in mice. Adv Exp Med Biol 1998;443:167-73. View abstract.
Laffan AM, McKenzie R, Forti J, et al. Lactoferrin for the prevention of post-antibiotic diarrhoea. J Health Popul Nutr. 2011;29(6):547-51. View abstract.
Laskow T, Langdon J, Abadir P, Xue QL, Walston J. Lactoferrin for the treatment of age-associated inflammation - A pilot study. Physiol Int 2021. View abstract.
Lepanto MS, Rosa L, Cutone A, Conte MP, Paesano R, Valenti P. Efficacy of lactoferrin oral administration in the treatment of anemia and anemia of inflammation in pregnant and non-pregnant women: An interventional study. Front Immunol. 2018 Sep 21;9:2123. View abstract.
Li F, Wu SS, Berseth CL, et al. Improved neurodevelopmental outcomes associated with bovine milk fat globule membrane and lactoferrin in infant formula: A randomized, controlled trial. J Pediatr. 2019 Dec;215:24-31.e8. View abstract.
Macciò A, Madeddu C, Gramignano G, Mulas C, Sanna E, Mantovani G. Efficacy and safety of oral lactoferrin supplementation in combination with rHuEPO-beta for the treatment of anemia in advanced cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy: open-label, randomized controlled study. Oncologist. 2010;15(8):894-902. View abstract.
Manfredi M, Bizzarri B, Sacchero RI, et al. Helicobacter pylori infection in clinical practice: probiotics and a combination of probiotics + lactoferrin improve compliance, but not eradication, in sequential therapy. Helicobacter. 2012;17(4):254-63. View abstract.
Miranda M, Saccone G, Ammendola A, et al. Vaginal lactoferrin in prevention of preterm birth in women with bacterial vaginosis. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2019 Nov 13:1-5. View abstract.
Miyakawa M, Kubo S, Oda H, et al. Effects of Lactoferrin on Sleep Conditions in Children Aged 12-32 Months: A Preliminary, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Nat Sci Sleep 2020;12:671-677. View abstract.
Mizuki M, Tsukahara T, Oda H, et al. Effects of Lactoferrin on Prevention of Acute Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Winter: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial for Staff of Kindergartens and Nursery Schools in Japan. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020;17(24):9582. View abstract.
Motoki N, Mizuki M, Tsukahara T, et al. Effects of lactoferrin-fortified formula on acute gastrointestinal symptoms in children aged 12-32 months: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Front Pediatr. 2020 May 19;8:233. View abstract.
Muscedere J, Maslove DM, Boyd JG, et al. Prevention of nosocomial infections in critically ill patients with lactoferrin: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Crit Care Med. 2018 Sep;46(9):1450-1456. View abstract.
Nakano M, Yoshida A, Wakabayashi H, et al. Effect of tablets containing lactoferrin and lactoperoxidase on gingival health in adults: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Periodontal Res. 2019 Dec;54(6):702-708. View abstract.
Ochoa TJ, Chea-Woo E, Baiocchi N, et al. Randomized double-blind controlled trial of bovine lactoferrin for prevention of diarrhea in children. J Pediatr. 2013;162(2):349-56. View abstract.
Ochoa TJ, Loli S, Mendoza K, et al. Effect of bovine lactoferrin on prevention of late-onset sepsis in infants <1500g: a pooled analysis of individual patient data from two randomized controlled trials. Biochem Cell Biol. 2020 Sep 15. View abstract.
Oda H, Miyakawa M, Mizuki M, et al. Effects of lactoferrin on subjective skin conditions in winter: A preliminary, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. 2019 Dec 2;12:875-880. View abstract.
Oda H, Wakabayashi H, Tanaka M, et al. Effects of lactoferrin on infectious diseases in Japanese summer: A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2020 Feb 26:S1684-1182(20)30038-4. View abstract.
Okada S, Tanaka K, Sato T, et al. Dose-response trial of lactoferrin in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Jpn J Cancer Res 2002;93:1063-9. View abstract.
Omar OM, Assem H, Ahmed D, Abd Elmaksoud MS. Lactoferrin versus iron hydroxide polymaltose complex for the treatment of iron deficiency anemia in children with cerebral palsy: a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Pediatr 2021;180(8):2609-2618. View abstract.
Otsuki K, Tokunaka M, Oba T, Nakamura M, Shirato N, Okai T. Administration of oral and vaginal prebiotic lactoferrin for a woman with a refractory vaginitis recurring preterm delivery: appearance of lactobacillus in vaginal flora followed by term delivery. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2014;40(2):583-5. View abstract.
Pacora P, Maymon E, Gervasi MT, et al. Lactoferrin in intrauterine infection, human parturition, and rupture of fetal membranes. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2000;183:904-10. View abstract.
Pammi M, Suresh G. Enteral lactoferrin supplementation for prevention of sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;6:CD007137. View abstract.
Pammi M, Suresh G. Enteral lactoferrin supplementation for prevention of sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 Mar 31;3(3):CD007137. View abstract.
Puddu P, Borghi P, Gessani S, et al. Antiviral effect of bovine lactoferrin saturated with metal ions on early steps of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection. Int J Biochem Cell Biol 1998;30:1055-62. View abstract.
Rosa L, Tripepi G, Naldi E, et al. Ambulatory COVID-19 Patients Treated with Lactoferrin as a Supplementary Antiviral Agent: A Preliminary Study. J Clin Med 2021;10(18):4276. View abstract.
Russo R, Karadja E, De Seta F. Evidence-based mixture containing Lactobacillus strains and lactoferrin to prevent recurrent bacterial vaginosis: a double blind, placebo controlled, randomised clinical trial. Benef Microbes. 2019 Feb 8;10(1):19-26. View abstract.
Russo R, Superti F, Karadja E, De Seta F. Randomised clinical trial in women with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: Efficacy of probiotics and lactoferrin as maintenance treatment. Mycoses. 2019 Apr;62(4):328-335. View abstract.
Saraceno R, Gramiccia T, Chimenti S, Valenti P, Pietropaoli M, Bianchi L. Topical lactoferrin can improve stable psoriatic plaque. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2014;149(3):335-40. View abstract.
Sherman MP, Petrak K. Lactoferrin-enhanced anoikis: A defense against neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis. Med Hypotheses 2005 Jun 9. View abstract.
Tarnow-Mordi WO, Abdel-Latif ME, Martin A, et al. The effect of lactoferrin supplementation on death or major morbidity in very low birthweight infants (LIFT): a multicentre, double-blind, randomised controlled trial. Lancet Child Adolesc Health. 2020 Jun;4(6):444-454. View abstract.
Tong PL, West NP, Cox AJ, et al. Oral supplementation with bovine whey-derived Ig-rich fraction and lactoferrin improves SCORAD and DLQI in atopic dermatitis. J Dermatol Sci. 2017;85(2):143-146. View abstract.
Troost FJ, Saris WH, Brummer RJ. Orally ingested human lactoferrin is digested and secreted in the upper gastrointestinal tract in vivo in women with ileostomies. J Nutr 2002;132:2597-600. View abstract.
Troost FJ, Saris WH, Brummer RJ. Recombinant human lactoferrin ingestion attenuates indomethacin-induced enteropathy in vivo in healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr 2003;57:1579-85. View abstract.
Tsukahara T, Fujimori A, Misawa Y, et al. The preventive effect of lactoferrin-containing yogurt on gastroenteritis in nursery school children-intervention study for 15 weeks. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Apr 7;17(7):2534. View abstract.
Valenti P, Berlutti F, Conte MP, et al. Lactoferrin functions: current status and perspectives. J Clin Gastroenterol 2004;38:S127-9. View abstract.
van't Land B, van Beek NM, van den Berg JJ, M'Rabet L. Lactoferrin reduces methotrexate-induced small intestinal damage, possibly through inhibition of GLP-2-mediated epithelial cell proliferation. Dig Dis Sci 2004;49:425-33. . View abstract.
Vetrugno V. Safety of milk and milk derivatives in relation to BSE: the lactoferrin example. Biometals 2004;17:353-6. View abstract.
Vitetta L, Coulson S, Beck SL, Gramotnev H, Du S, Lewis S. The clinical efficacy of a bovine lactoferrin/whey protein Ig-rich fraction (Lf/IgF) for the common cold: a double blind randomized study. Complement Ther Med. 2013;21(3):164-71. View abstract.
Vorland LH, Ulvatne H, Andersen J, et al. Lactoferricin of bovine origin is more active than lactoferricins of human, murine and caprine origin. Scand J Infect Dis 1998;30:513-7. View abstract.
Wronowski MF, Kotowska M, Banasiuk M, Kotowski A, Kuzmicka W, Albrecht P. Bovine Lactoferrin in the Prevention of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea in Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Front Pediatr 2021;9:675606. View abstract.
Yamauchi K, Wakabayashi H, Hashimoto S, et al. Effects of orally administered bovine lactoferrin on the immune system of healthy volunteers. Adv Exp Med Biol 1998;443:261-5. View abstract.
Zhang GH, Mann DM, Tsai CM. Neutralization of endotoxin in vitro and in vivo by a human lactoferrin-derived peptide. Infect Immun 1999;67:1353-8. View abstract.
Zimecki M, Wlaszczyk A, Cheneau P, et al. Immunoregulatory effects of a nutritional preparation containing bovine lactoferrin taken orally by healthy individuals. Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz) 1998;46:231-40.. View abstract.
Zullo A, De Francesco V, Scaccianoce G, et al. Quadruple therapy with lactoferrin for Helicobacter pylori eradication: A randomised, multicentre study. Dig Liver Dis 2005;37:496-500. View abstract.
Select a condition to view a list of vitamins
You Might Also Like
CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.