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Like Vitamin D, taking this supplement may offer ‘extra protection’ against Covid – says study

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Vitamin D has been shown time and again to be the most effective in reducing the severity of COVID infection. Another supplement has just been found to offer some extra protection against the disease.

A pill generally used to improve low iron levels has shown encouraging results in a new study to assist offer protection from coronavirus. With rising case numbers and winter on the way, may a daily supplement help to protect you?

According to a team of researchers conducted by the University of Huddersfield, antiviral compounds revealed in lactoferrin supplements could be used as an adjunct for COVID-19 and other Respiratory Tract Infections (RTIs).

Lactoferrin is a protein that is naturally found in cow milk, and human milk, as well as fluids in the eye, nose, respiratory system, intestine, and elsewhere.

The supplement’s benefits have been widely documented; however, it was unknown whether consuming the molecule as a supplement may have the same beneficial value until today. Dr Hamid Merchant of the University of Huddersfield’s Department of Pharmacy led the research.

It is one of the first meta-analyses of multiple independent lactoferrin clinical studies, and it has recently been published in the official journal of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN).

The study found that administering Lactoferrin, which has been shown to be a critical element in our natural defence systems against invading viruses, has a promising efficacy in reducing the incidence of RTIs.

Dr Merchant said of the discovery:

“This is a very promising molecule which can be adopted as an adjunct therapy for COVID-19 and could be part of a daily routine for people to take, along with vitamin C, D and Zinc supplements to keep our immune system healthy.

“Particularly now winter is almost upon us we need this extra protection a lot more now than during the summer.”

Lactoferrin is most generally used to treat low iron levels in pregnant women as well as to avoid blood infection (sepsis) in premature newborns.

It is also used for many other conditions.

Lactoferrin’s antiviral property makes it an excellent supplement for use as an adjuvant for COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, but Dr Merchant believes these are preliminary findings that require more data from a large, well-designed randomized controlled trial.

“Given the high clinical importance of respiratory tract infections amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we aimed to systematically examine the interventional Randomised Clinical Trials on the efficacy of bovine lactoferrin in preventing the occurrence of RTIs,” added Dr Syed Hasan, another of the University’s researchers involved in the study.

“The administration of Lactoferrin showed promising efficacy in reducing the risk of RTIs and may also have a beneficial role in managing symptoms and recovery of patients suffering from RTIs,” he said.

“Current evidence also favours lactoferrin fortification of infant formula – it won’t be long until parents should be able to find lactoferrin fortified infant formulas readily available on the shelves,” Dr Merchant added.

Lactoferrin contributes to the regulation of iron absorption from the intestine.

It also appears to defend against bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.

Lactoferrin appears to limit bacterial development by depriving them of nutrients. It also demolishes the bacteria’s resistance.

Lactoferrin is manufactured by specialized dairy firms that make milk, infant foods, or milk-based products that separate this biomolecule from the milk, which is then purchased by different other companies to offer as a supplement.

However, Dr. Merchant claims that many low-cost lactoferrin supplements marketed online are of poor quality since, as a biomolecule classified as a nutritional supplement, the production of lactoferrin is not legally required to follow the same tight regulatory process as medications.

Before starting any new supplements, it is necessary to consult your doctor.

Image Credit: Getty

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