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Whey protein

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Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • 2-methyl butanal, 3-methyl butanal, 39kDa protein, acid whey protein, alpha-lactalbumin, alpha-lactorphin, amino acids, antioxidant, apolipoprotein H-like whey protein, beta-lactoglobulins, bovine serum albumin (BSA), bovine transferrin, bovine whey protein concentrate, branched chain amino acids, calcium, calmodulin, casein, cathepsin D, CD14, cheese, cheese whey, copper, cysteine, denatured lactoperoxidase, dimethyl sulfide, early lactation protein, Enhanced Life Extension Protein, EquiProT, FIL (Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation), folacin-binding protein, furosine, globular protein, glutathione, goat milk whey, goat whey, glycemic index lowering peptide fraction (GILP), glycolactin, glycomacropeptide (GMP), glycoprotein PP3, glycosylated bile salt-stimulated lipase (BSSL), hormones, IgG1, IgG2, IgG-rich fractions, Immune WPC-40T, ImmunocalT, immunoglobulins, LacterminT, lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, lactophorin, late-lactation protein, leucine, lysinoalanine, lysozyme, magnesium, MBP, methional, milk, milk basic protein, milk constituent, milk proteose peptone 3, milk protein, milk protein isolate, mineral whey concentrate, MUC15, NOP47, OptimuneT, Peptamen®, phosphate, phosphorylated whey, prosaposin, protein N-linked homocysteine, proteínas del suero de la leche, salty whey, selenium, serum albumin, sialic acid, sweet whey, transforming growth factor-beta 2 (TGF-beta 2), trichosurin, undenatured whey protein, vitamin B12, WE80BG, WGP-88, whey, whey acidic protein, whey fraction, whey growth factor extract, whey peptides, whey permeate, whey protein concentrate, whey protein hydrolysate, whey protein isolate, whéy protéine, zinc.

Background
  • Whey protein is one of the two major groups of proteins found in milk. It is a highly digestible source of protein.
  • Whey proteins are used in a variety of foods, including ice cream, bread, and infant formula. Whey protein has been used in fat replacers for low-fat ice cream and as an ingredient in milk replacement products. Whey protein is also a popular dietary supplement for improving muscle strength and body composition and for the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, and age-related bone loss.
  • Whey protein may aid in the prevention of some hereditary conditions, such as the tendency to develop allergies. It may act as an appetite suppressant and aid in the control of blood sugar.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Hydrolysed whey protein formula may be effective in preventing some allergies. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

A


Whey protein is considered an excellent source of protein. Research is ongoing in this area.

A


As a source of high nutritional quality protein, whey protein has been found to reduce short-term food intake and may aid in reducing appetite. Additional studies are required before firm conclusions can be made.

B


Whey protein may improve some symptoms of diabetes. Additional research is needed in this area.

B


Whey protein may increase muscle mass and muscle strength. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

B


The role of whey protein in appetite and body weight control has been studied. Whey protein may aid in weight loss, however, further study is required to confirm study findings.

B


Based on limited study, a product containing lactoferrin, a whey protein, may improve the symptoms of acne. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Based on limited study, whey protein may have positive benefits in patients with atopic asthma or atopic dermatitis. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Based on limited study, a product containing whey protein may have beneficial effects on patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Whey protein may improve bone density. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be made.

C


Based on limited study, a product containing whey protein, may have positive benefits for individuals with bronchospasm. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


A product containing ultra-filtered whey protein may have positive benefits for patients with burns. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Based on limited study, whey protein may have positive benefits for patients with cancer. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Early study suggests that whey protein may aid in reducing the risk of heart disease. However, further research is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Whey protein has been shown to improve lung function in some studies of patients with COPD. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Based on limited study, a product containing alpha-lactalbumin may have positive benefits for individuals in terms of mental processes. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Infant formula containing whey protein hydrolysates may have positive benefits for infants with constipation. Further study is needed.

C


Whey protein may have some positive effects in individuals with cystic fibrosis, such as increased weight gain. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Based on limited study, a toothpaste product containing whey protein may have positive benefits for individuals with dental plaque. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Based on limited study, a low-phosphorus, low-potassium whey protein product may have positive benefits on phosphate levels in individuals undergoing dialysis. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Whey protein may aid in the prevention of diarrhea caused by bacterial infection. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Infant formula containing whey protein may have positive benefits for infants predisposed to eczema. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Whey protein may have beneficial effects on exercise performance and recovery. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Based on limited study, a product containing whey protein may have positive benefits for individuals with fatigue due to spinal injury. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


A product containing whey protein may have positive benefits for individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease associated with neurological impairment. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


A product containing whey protein may have positive benefits for individuals with short gut syndrome. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Based on limited study, a product containing whey protein may not have positive benefits for individuals with hearing loss. Further study is needed to confirm early study findings.

C


Although not well studied in humans, whey protein may have liver protective effects. High quality clinical studies are needed.

C


Based on limited human study, whey protein may lower blood pressure. Further well-designed study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Whey protein may have beneficial effects in individuals with HIV. Further study is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Some study suggests that whey protein may have beneficial effects on immune function. Additional studies are needed in this area.

C


Based on early study, whey protein may aid in the reduction of oxidative stress in individuals with mitochondrial diseases. Further study is needed.

C


Preliminary study suggests that a specific whey protein extract may aid in the decrease of symptoms associated with psoriasis. Further well-designed study investigating the effects of whey protein alone is required before conclusions can be made.

C


Alpha-lactalbumin, a whey protein, may aid in the decrease of stress. Further study on whey protein is required before conclusions can be made.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Adrenal gland stimulation, aging, alertness, analgesic (painkiller), anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiparasitic (kills parasites), antitoxin (antipoison), antiviral, asthma, blood thinner, bodybuilding, cavities, colds/flu, diarrhea (HIV), epilepsy (seizures), fertility (ability to produce offspring), food uses, gastrointestinal disorders (general), growth, heart disease, heavy metal/lead toxicity, infection, high cholesterol, kidney stones, lactation (breastfeeding), lactose intolerance, liver protection, low blood pressure (after meals in the elderly), memory, mood, muscle atrophy (loss of muscle mass), obesity, peritoneal dialysis (treatment for severe kidney disease), phenylketonuria (genetic disorder), rickets (softening and weakening of bones), skin conditions, sleep, tuberculosis, vaccine adjunct (treatment used together with vaccine), weight gain, wound healing.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • As an appetite suppressant, whey protein (up to 50 grams or 50% of the meal) has been taken by mouth once daily. One half gram of whey protein per kilogram of body weight has been taken by mouth.
  • For bone density, milk containing 40 milligrams milk basic protein has been taken by mouth daily for six to eight months. Thirty to sixty milligrams whey basic protein has been taken by mouth daily for 24 weeks.
  • For bronchospasm, 30 grams of unprocessed whey protein has been taken by mouth daily for eight weeks.
  • For cancer, 30 grams of whey protein has been taken by mouth daily for six months.
  • For cardiovascular disease risk, 26.6 grams of whey protein has been taken by mouth daily for 12 weeks by people taking part in resistance training. Forty-five grams of whey protein isolate has been taken by mouth as a single dose at breakfast. Five grams of a whey-derived peptide (NOP-47) has been taken by mouth once daily.
  • For chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 12 grams whey protein has been taken by mouth twice daily for six weeks. Twenty grams of pressurized whey has been taken by mouth in 120 milliliters of applesauce for 16 weeks.
  • For cystic fibrosis, 40 grams of pressurized whey has been taken by mouth in applesauce for 28 days. Ten grams whey protein has been taken by mouth twice daily for three months.
  • For dental plaque, whey protein toothpaste and tooth powder have been used.
  • For diabetes, 45 grams whey protein as a single meal has been studied. Fifty grams of whey protein added to pre-meal (soup) or meal (potato) has been studied. Five to ten grams of glycemic index lowering peptide fraction (GILP) from whey has been taken by mouth as a single dose. Single doses of whey have been taken by mouth in combination with meals or drinks. The whey peptide based formula, Peptamen®, has been taken by mouth.
  • For dialysis (phosphate levels), 30 grams of a low-phosphate and low-potassium whey protein concentrate has been taken by mouth daily for three months.
  • For enhanced muscle mass/strength, up to 45 grams whey protein powder has been taken by mouth with Gatorade®, three times weekly, for up to 14 weeks. Whey protein (1.2 grams /kilogram body weight) has been taken by mouth with sucrose powder. Hydrolyzed whey isolate (1.5 grams/kilogram body weight) has been taken by mouth daily for ten weeks. Whey protein has been taken by mouth daily as part of a protein bar. Whey protein (1.2 grams/kilogram body weight) has been taken by mouth daily for six weeks. Whey protein isolate (1.5 grams/kilogram body weight) has been taken by mouth immediately following resistance training and then four more times daily for 14 days. Fifteen grams of whey protein has been taken by mouth before and after exercise for 21 weeks. One gram/kilogram body weight of unprocessed whey protein powder made from cow's milk has been taken by mouth daily for 14 weeks.
  • For exercise performance (and recovery), 2% whey hydrolysate in a test drink following a workout has been studied. A single dose of 25 grams whey protein in flavored water has been taken by mouth. Whey protein (0.4 grams per kilogram body weight per hour) has been taken by mouth together with sucrose. Forty-four grams of Maximuscle PromaxT has been taken by mouth in divided doses before and after walking and then twice daily for the following three days. Forty-two grams of whey protein has been taken by mouth before and after exercise.
  • For hearing loss, an unprocessed whey protein supplement rich in glutathione has been taken by mouth.
  • For hepatitis, 10 grams of unprocessed whey protein isolate (rich in the amino acid cysteine) has been mixed with water and taken by mouth twice daily for 12 weeks. Twelve grams of whey protein in food (mousse) has been used twice daily for 12 weeks.
  • For HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), 45 grams of whey protein has been taken by mouth for two weeks. Forty grams of whey protein has been taken by mouth twice daily for 12 weeks. Immunocal (a specially prepared whey protein concentrate) has been taken by mouth in the following series of doses: 8.4 grams daily for four weeks, followed by 19.6 grams daily for four weeks, followed by 28 grams daily for one week, followed by 39.2 grams daily for three weeks.
  • For high blood pressure, 125 milliliters of a milk drink supplemented with whey peptides every morning for 12 weeks has been studied. Twenty grams of processed or unprocessed whey protein has been taken by mouth daily for six weeks
  • For immune function, whey protein has been taken by mouth for eight weeks.
  • As a nutritional supplement (protein source), up to a single daily dose of 15 grams whey protein has been taken by mouth. Single doses of 0.4 and 0.3 grams whey protein per kilogram of body weight or of whey protein equivalent to 0.48 grams of milk protein casein have been taken by mouth.
  • For psoriasis, 5 grams of the whey protein extract XP-828L has been taken by mouth daily for 56 days.
  • For weight loss, ProlibraT has been taken by mouth for 12 weeks. Whey protein (containing 240 kilocalories, or calories) has been taken daily for two months. Twenty-five grams of whey protein has been taken by mouth twice daily for 12 weeks.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • For allergies, 10 grams of whey protein has been taken by mouth twice daily for one month. Formulas containing hydrolyzed whey proteins have been used for the first four months in infants.
  • As an appetite suppressant, up to 50 grams of whey protein has been taken by mouth as a single dose. One dose of one gram whey protein per kilogram of body weight has been taken by mouth.
  • For burns, filtered whey protein has been added to the diet, accounting for approximately 25% of the total calories in the diet.
  • For cystic fibrosis, 20 grams of pressurized whey has been taken by mouth in applesauce for 28 days. Ten grams of whey protein has been taken by mouth twice daily for three months.
  • For eczema, infant formulas containing partially or extensively hydrolysed whey have been taken by mouth.
  • For HIV, whey protein concentrate has been taken by mouth.
  • For mitochondrial diseases, a whey-based protein has been taken by mouth.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in patients with known allergy or hypersensitivity to milk or milk products.
  • Throat itching, facial swelling, vomiting, and diarrhea have been reported. Colic, failure to thrive, and hyper-IgE syndrome have been reported in infants. Whey baths may sensitize infants to cow's milk allergy.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Whey protein may cause colic in infants, increased bowel movements, nausea, thirst, bloating, cramps, reduced appetite, tiredness, headache, fasciitis, swelling of the arms and legs, skin reactions, and severe disability.
  • Use cautiously in patients using any medications. Drugs may bind to human milk whey proteins. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be altered in the blood.
  • Whey protein may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Whey protein may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Whey protein may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Whey protein may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs, herbs, or supplements using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these agents may change in the blood, and may cause increased or decreased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients taking any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Use cautiously in patients using drugs, herbs, or supplements that may affect the immune system.
  • Use cautiously in patients using cholesterol-lowering medications.
  • Use cautiously in patients with gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Use cautiously when operating heavy machinery since, as high doses of protein may cause tiredness or fatigue.
  • Use only approved sources of whey protein or whey protein hydrolysates in infant formulas.
  • Avoid long-term excessive intake because it may cause kidney damage or bone loss.
  • Avoid in individuals who are avoiding dairy products.
  • Avoid in patients with known allergy or hypersensitivity to milk or milk products.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is a lack of available scientific evidence on the use of whey protein in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Drugs may bind to human milk whey proteins. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be altered in the blood.
  • Whey protein may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Whey protein may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
  • Whey protein may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, antithrombotics, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Whey protein may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be altered in the blood, and may cause increased or decreased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package insert, and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Whey protein may also interact with albendozole, alcohol, analgesics, anti-allergy agents, antibacterials, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, anticancer agents, antinematodal agents, anti-ulcer agents, antivirals, appetite suppressants, bodybuilding agents, cholesterol lowering agents, dental agents, drugs used to increase bone density or treat and prevent osteoporosis (such as alendronate), drugs that protect the liver, drugs that affect the immune system, drugs used for the heart, drugs used for the skin, drugs used for the kidney, drugs used to promote breast milk supply, exercise agents, fertility agents, gastrointestinal agents, hormonal agents, indomethacin, iron, levodopa, mood altering agents, respiratory agents, weight loss agents, and wound healing agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Herbs and supplements may bind to human milk whey proteins. As a result, the levels of these herbs and supplements may be altered in the blood.
  • Whey protein may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Whey protein may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Whey protein may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding such as antithrombotics or anticoagulants. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
  • Whey protein may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of herbs or supplements may be altered in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system.
  • Whey protein may also interact with amino acids, analgesics, anthocyanins, anti-allergy herbs and supplements, antibacterials, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, anticancer herbs and supplements, antinematodal herbs and supplements, antioxidants, anti-ulcer herbs and supplements, antivirals, appetite suppressants, baked goods, bread, bodybuilding herbs and supplements, calcium, carbohydrates, cholesterol lowering herbs and supplements, colostrums, copper, creatine, exercise herbs and supplements, folic acid, fortified blended foods, fertility herbs and supplements, fructooligosaccharides, gastrointestinal herbs and supplements, grape seed extract, herbs and supplements used to increase bone density or treat and prevent osteoporosis, herbs and supplements that protect the liver, herbs and supplements that affect the immune system, herbs and supplements used for the heart, herbs and supplements used for the skin, herbs and supplements used for the kidney, herbs and supplements used to promote breast milk supply, high or low protein diets, hormonal herbs and supplements, iron, leucine, limonene, maltodextrin, milk fat, minerals or trace elements (such as zinc, copper, manganese, chromium), mood altering herbs and supplements, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, respiratory herbs and supplements, selenium, spirulina, vitamins, weight loss herbs and supplements, and wound healing herbs and supplements.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Alexander DD, Cabana MD. Partially hydrolyzed 100% whey protein infant formula and reduced risk of atopic dermatitis: a meta-analysis. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2010;50(4):422-30.
  2. Alexander DD, Schmitt DF, Tran NL, et al. Partially hydrolyzed 100% whey protein infant formula and atopic dermatitis risk reduction: a systematic review of the literature. Nutr Rev 2010;68(4):232-45.
  3. Akhavan T, Luhovyy BL, Brown PH, et al. Effect of premeal consumption of whey protein and its hydrolysate on food intake and postmeal glycemia and insulin responses in young adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2010;91(4):966-75.
  4. Burke DG, Chilibeck PD, Davidson KS, et al. The effect of whey protein supplementation with and without creatine monohydrate combined with resistance training on lean tissue mass and muscle strength. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2001;11(3):349-64.
  5. Chauhan JM, Lim SY, Powers JR, et al. Short communication: low-fat ice cream flavor not modified by high hydrostatic pressure treatment of whey protein concentrate. J Dairy Sci 2010;93(4):1452-8.
  6. Evans J, Zulewska J, Newbold M, et al. Comparison of composition and sensory properties of 80% whey protein and milk serum protein concentrates. J Dairy Sci 2010;93(5):1824-43.
  7. Haff GG. Whey Protein Supplementation Increases Fat loss and Spares Lean Muscle in Obese Subjects. NSCA's Performance Training Journal. Sep 2008;7(5):9.
  8. Haraguchi FK, Silva ME, Neves LX, et al. Whey protein precludes lipid and protein oxidation and improves body weight gain in resistance-exercised rats. Eur J Nutr 2010 Nov 3. [Epub ahead of print]
  9. Leksrisompong PP, Miracle RE, Drake M. Characterization of flavor of whey protein hydrolysates. J Agric Food Chem 2010;58(10):6318-27.
  10. Leng XJ, Chai Z, Ren FZ, et al. Study of microstructure of pectin and whey protein isolate mixtures under incompatible conditions using dynamic light scattering and transmission electron microscopy]. Guang Pu Xue Yu Guang Pu Fen Xi 2010;30(8):2196-200.
  11. Ou K, Liu Y, Zhang L, et al. Effect of neutrase, alcalase, and papain hydrolysis of whey protein concentrates on iron uptake by Caco-2 cells. J Agric Food Chem 2010;58(8):4894-900.
  12. Pal S, Ellis V, Dhaliwal S. Effects of whey protein isolate on body composition, lipids, insulin and glucose in overweight and obese individuals. Br J Nutr 2010;104(5):716-23.
  13. Prommakool A, Sajjaanantakul T, Janjarasskul T, et al. Whey protein-okra polysaccharide fraction blend edible films: tensile properties, water vapor permeability and oxygen permeability. J Sci Food Agric 2010 Oct 19. [Epub ahead of print].
  14. Walker TB, Smith J, Herrera M, et al. The influence of 8 weeks of whey-protein and leucine supplementation on physical and cognitive performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2010;20(5):409-17.
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Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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