Whenever we hear the prefix “lact” our brains automatically make a connection to dairy. But many compounds like lactic acid, lactates, and lactylates are usually dairy free. So that makes some of us wonder, is lactoferrin dairy free too? Unfortunately, it is a dairy ingredient, but it might not be what you expect. In this post, I’ll explain lactoferrin, and who it is most concerning for.
Understanding Lactoferrin for People with Milk Allergies and Lactose Intolerance
Lactoferrin has moved into the supplement spotlight in recent years for its potential ability to protect against bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. And it might be a great option for some people. But if you have any issues with dairy, here’s what you need to know.
What is Lactoferrin?
Despite the name, lactoferrin is not derived from lactose. It’s actually a type of whey protein in milk. It’s found in both human milk and animal milk, but is highest in colostrum, the first milk made after a baby is born.
Can Lactoferrin be Safe for some Milk Allergies?
As humans, we are not allergic to the lactoferrin in human milk, but we can be allergic to the lactoferrin protein from other mammal milks, like cow’s milk. Supplements are typically made from cow’s milk, which is often labeled as bovine milk on the bottles.
When a doctor states that someone has a milk allergy, it means they are allergic to the proteins in milk. The two main categories of proteins in milk are casein and whey. People can be allergic to casein proteins, whey proteins, or both. If someone is allergic to whey proteins, then lactoferrin should be avoided. But if someone is allergic to only the casein proteins, not to whey proteins, then they are not technically allergic to lactoferrin.
That said, supplements aren’t always purified. Some might contain milk powder or other components of milk, or they might simply have trace amounts of casein remaining. If you are dealing with a milk allergy, it is essential to discuss the safety of lactoferrin with your physician before trying it. They might also have some alternate supplement suggestions that are dairy free.
If you and your physician decide lactoferrin is a safe supplement for you to try, look for a brand that is as purified as possible. This requires contacting the company to learn more about the ingredients, source, and any cross-contamination risk. We’re the dairy-free experts, so we aren’t able to make educated recommendations on specific dairy products.
Is Lactoferrin Lactose-Free? Is it Okay for Lactose Intolerance?
Pure lactoferrin is lactose-free, and should not cause any symptoms for people who are just lactose intolerant. But it’s important to seek out a brand that is touted as lactose-free specifically. Some brands might not be sufficiently purified, or might contain lactose or milk powder as a filler.
It is Still Dairy.
If you strictly avoid dairy for any other social, environmental, religious, ethical, or medical issue, lactoferrin might not be suitable for you. It is definitely a dairy-derived supplement, and is typically made from cow’s milk.
Before trying any new supplement, always consult your physician. This post is for informational purposes only. It is not medical advice, and is not intended to treat, diagnose, advise, or replace your own due diligence.