What is Lactoferrin?

What is Lactoferrin? Whey protein with the most lactoferrin

What is Lactoferrin?

Besides the major-fractions mentioned previously (Beta & Alpha Lactalbumin, BSA, Ig) contained with whey’s macro-nutrient protein, there are a few fractions we refer to as “minor.” Minor-fractions occur in a much lower concentration.

Learn More: Protein Fractions Explained

Where does Lactoferrin Originate?

Lactoferrin exists in the highest concentrations in colostrum, the first type of breast milk produced after a baby is born; breast milk chock-full is with immune system boosters and benefits. Particularly critical for newborn babies and calves where Lactoferrin serves as their primary protector against bacterial infections. Lactoferrin can be found in almost all bodily fluids, including -

  • Tears 0.4-1.2 mg/ml
  • Saliva 5-10 ug/ml
  • Blood 0.28 ug/ml
  • Amniotic fluid 2-32 ug/ml 

Note: “Colostrum” can also be used as a supplement – it’s extremely rich in antibodies in the form of immunoglobulins, which have proven to stimulate the immune system and are often used to enhance athletic performance across a broad spectrum of disciplines naturally.

How Much Lactoferrin is in Grass-fed Whey Protein?

Concentrations of Lactoferrin vary in bovine milk and thus whey protein. Like all the most valuable protein fractions within the whey protein community, concentrations of Lactoferrin are most significant in milk from cows who feed on organic matter (i.e., Grassfed Whey). As a standalone product, Lactoferrin is a lean protein weighing in at > 95% protein by weight which explains why it is typically sold in pill form.

In AGN Roots Grass-Fed Whey across all batches; lactoferrin concentrations exist in a range between 1.1 - 1.7% Lactoferrin by volume.  

Lactoferrin Per Serving: 275mg - 425mg

 Among the protein fractions, Lactoferrin is incredibly powerful, and we at AGN Roots highly recommend supplementing Lactoferrin as part of your daily regime. In the world of protein, Lactoferrin rises to the level of “super protein” for its immune system & digestive benefits.

A Grassfed Whey Protein Powder serving contains much more protein (25 grams protein) than a typical glass of milk. By isolating whey protein from the water, fats, and sugars of milk, it becomes clear that ONLY .6% of the milk is whey protein. With this fact, it’s much easier to understand why whey protein isolate would contain a much greater concentration of Lactoferrin than compared to a glass of grassfed whole milk.

Does the Body Naturally Produce Lactoferrin?

In the world of “essential vs. non-essential,” just like Amino Acids, Lactoferrin is considered “non-essential” as our bodies do produce it naturally. With age, however, unlike the body’s production of aches and pains, Lactoferrin production decreases, making supplementation recommended. One of the best sources of natural Lactoferrin is Grassfed Whey Protein. 

Is there Lactoferrin in Whey Protein Isolate?

Although many brands are selling whey protein concentrate love to market the benefits of whey containing 20% by volume lactose & fats under the premise that “all the best nutrients reside within the fats and carbohydrates.” Well, this isn’t the case at all when it comes to the whey protein macro-nutrients and would fit into the category of fake-nutrition-news.

Does Whey Protein Concentrate Contain More Lactoferrin than Isolate?

No, Whey Protein Isolate contains more Lactoferrin gram per gram than whey protein concentrate.  The reality is, minor protein fractions associated with whey exist within the whey protein macro itself.  If comparing a whey protein concentrate powder with a whey protein isolate powder, gram for gram, the isolate will contain more significant quantities of the following nutrients -

  • β-Lactoglobulin
  • α-Lactalbumin
  • Lactoferrin
  • Immunoglobins
  • Lysozyme

Does Lactoferrin Enhance Athletic Performance?

Competitive athletes are always looking for performance gaps to fill with the right nutrition. Assuming the big things like rest, diet, and training regime are ever-evolving, next in line to elevate your performance will fall in the category of fine-tuning nutrition.

Lactoferrin supplementation is a great place to start; through various studies has shown to be beneficial, expressing supportive effects in several areas often marketed as the following:

Antimicrobial – Supports Gut Health, used in caring for wounds & Oral Hygiene.
Immune Modulation – Serves as an Anti-inflammatory Immune Booster and is used in the Skin Care industry.
Bone Growth – Supports General Bone Health assisting in the fight against Osteoporosis.
Endotoxin Binding – Helps combat the impacts of a “western” diet high in fat, potentially resulting in Diabetes and or Obesity.
Iron Source – Fighting negative impacts of Anemia  
Prebiotic – Supports Gut health and Serves as Immunity Booster.

Grassfed Whey’s Natural Antimicrobial Immune System Benefits -

Since Lactoferrin binds to iron, it can help keep iron away from iron-dependent pathogenic bacteria. “Gram-Negative” bacteria must acquire iron within their hosts to replicate and will scavenge it from wherever they find it. In this case, heme Non-saturated Lactoferrin will also strongly bind iron, creating an iron-deficient environment that discourages bacterial growth.

When it comes to reportorial-viruses like COVID19, preventing biofilm from building on mucus membranes by pathogenic bacteria can be beneficial. Lactoferrin helps prevent the pathogens from sticking to surfaces and can thus limit their colonization, especially on mucosal surfaces (intestinal lining, lungs, etc.).

The airway infection by Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis patients is a chief example of a biofilm infection. By limiting adhesion, lactoferrin help minimize the potential of a bacterial infection.

Note: “Gram-negative Bacteria” – Refers specifically to bacteria that do not retain the crystal violet stain used in the Gram Staining Method of bacterial differentiation. These bacteria include but are not limited to Escherichia coli (E. Coli), Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Chlamydia trachomatis, and Yersinia pestis.

Damage from Over Training - 

There is a direct connection of Lactoferrin supporting natural immune health & also restoring iron levels; both benefits share a link, and both are wildly critical for efficient recovery after intense sessions of strenuous overtraining.

For long-distance running, like other sports where the failure mechanism is around endurance, studies have shown that supplementation with Lactoferrin does help support healthy iron levels and red blood cell efficacy.

Micronutrient Loss (Gastrointestinal Issues) –

Lactoferrin reduces inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract due to its ability to rebalance iron to optimal levels. When it comes to showing the signs of aging, too much iron can serve as a catalyst or contributor to the aging process.

Immune Health Benefits of Lactoferrin -

Several global publications indicate Lactoferrin’s strong ability to increase anti-inflammatory factors in the body (IL-10, NK cells); In doing so, also reducing pro-inflammatory factors (IL-1, IL-6, TNF-a). Lactoferrin is an immune system adaptogen. As an immune system regulator, it helps prevent both over and under-stimulation. 

Lactoferrin exists in the highest amounts within colostrum, the first type of breast milk produced after a baby is born, loaded with immune system boosters and benefits. 

Particularly critical for newborn babies and calves where Lactoferrin serves as their primary protector against bacterial infections as their immune systems are still developing.

Colostrum can also be a powerful supplement – it’s extremely rich in antibodies in the form of immunoglobulins, which have been proven to stimulate the immune system and are often used to enhance athletic performance across a broad spectrum of disciplines naturally.

Is Lactoferrin Beneficial for Women?

When it comes to gender and who is more inclined to deal with issues related to iron deficiencies, the clamor of the scientific dispute has abated as the empirical evidence overwhelmingly shows that, in general, women are indeed the most vulnerable. 

Yes, Lactoferrin is a great supplement to increase the body’s natural ability to absorb iron, which in many cases, can be beneficial for women and men who struggle to absorb adequate quantities. 

Will Lactoferrin in Grassfed Whey Upset my Stomach?

One of the benefits of Lactoferrin and truly grassfed whey protein is the ease of digestion. As many of us may have experienced iron supplementation and the aftermath of discomfort experienced by the stomach, we are pleased to share an alternative solution in the name of Lactoferrin that is much gentler on the gut.  

Compared to ferrous sulfate, Lactoferrin impacts gut health positively by reducing constipation and epigastric pains.  In general, Lactoferrin is more pleasant on the stomach for treating iron deficiencies than other more traditional treatments. 

Does Lactoferrin help with Anemia?

As iron-binding globular glycoprotein lactoferrin helps regulate the absorption of iron in the intestine and thus helps the delivery of iron to the cells, this process is critical if you suffer from Anemia. Lactoferrin is a highly sought-after supplement for endurance athletes who depend on efficient oxygenation. 

Is Weight Loss a benefit of Lactoferrin in Grassfed Whey Protein?

Of the numerous studies around the benefits of supplementing with Lactoferrin, the results showed a relationship between LF supplementation and reductions in body fat, particularly visceral body fat.  In addition to significant visceral fat reduction, other findings include reductions in body weight, BMI (Body Mass Index), and a reduction in hip circumference.

Like all studies, variance exists along with statistical outliers; however, with lactoferrin supplementation, especially if the source is AGN Roots Grassfed whey, the benefits serve as a net positive! 

Does Cooking with Whey Protein Powder Impact Lactoferrin Content?

Studies have shown that lactoferrin is incredibly fragile in whey protein powder form. The severity of lactoferrin denaturation in whey protein increases as heat exposure increases. The answer is Yes. 

To get the most out of grass-fed whey and its high lactoferrin content, eliminate any whey protein powder exposures to temperatures greater than 75°C (167°F).

At 75°C, lactoferrin within whey protein begins to lose immunoreactivity with specific antibodies in the body and thus it's biological activity.  If you can imagine, baking whey protein cookies at a typical baking temperature of 350°F will essentially destroy all the macro-nutrients that make grass-fed so much better than standard protein powders.

AGN Roots Grass-Fed Whey contains the most lactoferrin because our sourcing starts with the most, and our processing ensures we protect what's there.

AGN Roots Grass-Fed Whey avoids harsh temperatures that render fragile macro-nutrients denatured from the farm through pasteurization and spray drying. Even our packaging contains an ultra-violet and thermal barrier to ensure a nutrient-rich product arrives at your door.

Learn More: Complete Guide to Undenatured Whey Protein
Learn More: AGN Root's Cold-Processing Technique

[1] Navarro, F et al. “Kinetic and thermodynamic parameters for thermal denaturation of ovine milk lactoferrin determined by its loss of immunoreactivity.” Journal of dairy science vol. 98,7 (2015): 4328-37. doi:10.3168/jds.2015-9403
[2] Wang, Bo et al. “Lactoferrin: Structure, function, denaturation and digestion.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition vol. 59,4 (2019): 580-596. doi:10.1080/10408398.2017.1381583

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I am interested in Your Grass Fed Whey and I am interested in its Lactoferrin Content as well! What is the level of Lactoferrin your Whey product?
Thank You!

Peter Brown

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