Lactoferrin: a natural protein
proven to build bone density

Got lactoferrin? I guess you can see right away why that was not the slogan for selling milk. And I’ve actually seen cow milk cause a lot of problems for humans who are allergic or sensitive, so I’m not pushing milk. But this is one circumstance where I think an isolated derivative of a food is better for you than the food itself. Let’s talk about why this may a great natural osteoporosis treatment.

Lactoferrin is a naturally occurring protein that is found in human milk and is a necessary part of our babies’ nutrition early on. But harvesting enough human milk for extraction and commercial marketing has never been feasible, so the product on the market now is isolated and purified from cow milk. What’s it good for? First (and this is why it’s so good for newborns) it provides broad defense against many microbial enemies such as viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasites. It boosts the immune system, helps wounds to heal and has anti-tumor properties. And as if that weren’t enough, it stimulates normal bone growth more powerfully than a number of other naturally occurring human growth factors. It does this by turning on the activity of cells called osteoblasts (bone building cells) and inhibiting the activity of osteoclasts (bone breakdown cells). And at the same time, I have found nothing in the medical literature suggesting any adverse effect of this treatment approach. A natural medicine like this that helps the body do more of what it naturally wants to do anyway, with no known adverse effects, that’s a perfect approach for holistic medicine.


I do have a personal word of caution about the indiscriminate use of this or any dietary supplement. Here’s my reasoning: the balance between new bone cell formation and breakdown of old bone cells is delicately regulated, and works well to maintain bone health in young people. When the system is working well, we may not be wise to attempt to modify it. I am not suggesting at all that this supplement could cause problems, but I would only want to tip the balance of the system in the favor of osteoblasts in a person who is already experiencing osteopenia or osteoporosis. I may be overly cautious here, but am comfortable with that approach.

So if you know that you already have osteopenia or osteoporosis, I give a strong endorsement to lactoferrin as a daily supplement for natural osteoporosis treatment. The suggested dose is in the range of 250 mg twice daily. Continue your regular weight bearing exercise, get adequatevitamin D, vitamin K and calcium, and send me a note to tell me how your bone density has improved at your next DEXA.



To your health and wellness,




Robert Pendergrast, M.D. 

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