In recent years, colostrum supplementation has gained popularity as a health supplement. Colostrum supplementation has been found to have numerous health benefits for all ages, not just infants. In this blog, we will delve into what colostrum is, the benefits of bovine supplementation, and supplementation precautions.
What is Colostrum?
Colostrum, naturally produced by female mammals in the first few days after giving birth, is a thick, yellowish fluid full of essential nutrients and antibodies that help strengthen the immune system of newborns. These antibodies provide protection from diseases until the baby’s immune system can start producing its own. Colostrum also contains high levels of protein, growth factors, vitamins, minerals, cytokines, and enzymes.
Bovine colostrum (BC) from cows contains more nutrients than regular milk. BC consists of fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, D, and K and water soluble such as B-complex vitamins that play an important role in metabolism, including antioxidant activity and bone growth.
However, BC is uniquely different than human colostrum, containing different antibodies and must survive digestion to be absorbed. It contains casein, which is a protein that can help promote healthy digestion and pancreatic enzymes. It also contains whey, a protein rich in amino acids that can promote healing, and is not found in human milk.
Benefits of Colostrum Supplementation
The benefits of colostrum supplementation for adults have been studied extensively. Some studies have shown that it can help improve athletic performance, boost the immune system, and even aid in weight loss. Here is what colostrum can boost:
- Athletic Performance-Athletic training can stress the gut and the immune system. The bioactive components of colostrum can support gut and immune health. Growth factors, antibodies, cytokines, and lactoferrin in colostrum may improve the functioning of digestive, immune, neuroendocrine, and exercise performance, especially during high-intensity training.1
- Immune Health-Colostrum has natural anti-bacterial properties. It contains antibodies that exceed that of regular milk 100-fold. It may help prevent or manage flu or respiratory disease2–4 It has been used as a therapy to heal the gut lining from the negative effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, chemotherapy, and diseases such as Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), and infectious diarrhea.5 Colostrum may have anti-cancer properties for cancers such as colon cancer.6
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties-Bovine colostrum is rich in a substance called lactoferrin which can reduce inflammation and prevent the spread of inflammation-related tissue damage. 7,8 Supplementation has been shown to reduce markers of inflammation.9 For individuals with inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, colostrum supplementation may not only reduce inflammation but also provide growth factors that can help heal damaged joint tissues, providing relief from pain and improving mobility.
- Weight Loss-Supplementation with bovine colostrum along with exercise can support the development of lean body mass.10–12
- Anti-Aging-One of the most recent discoveries in the benefits of colostrum supplementation is its potential as an anti-aging supplement. As we age, our body’s production of growth factors and other essential components decreases, leading to a decline in overall health and vitality. Colostrum contains high levels of growth factors, such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which have been shown to promote cell regeneration and tissue repair. Colostrum has been used to manage dermatologic conditions such as acne, and wounds, and for its’ moisturizing, protective, toning, smoothing, anti-irritation, soothing, and anti-aging effects.13 It can help slow down the aging process and improve skin elasticity, reducing wrinkles and fine lines. Additionally, colostrum’s immune-boosting properties can also help fight off age-related illnesses and infections, keeping us healthy and vibrant as we age.
Overall, colostrum supplementation has numerous benefits for individuals of all ages, including those with arthritis or other autoimmune conditions. Its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to modulate the immune system make it a valuable supplement for promoting overall health and well-being.
Who Should Avoid Taking Colostrum
While colostrum supplementation has many benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone.
- Strict vegans-Be aware of products containing colostrum.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid taking colostrum as the effects on fetuses and infants are still unknown.
- Dairy Allergies- Individuals with a known allergy to dairy products should also avoid colostrum supplements, as they may cause an allergic reaction.
- Lactose Intolerance– individuals may have a greater sensitivity to bovine colostrum, as the nutrients are higher than in cow’s milk.
- Estrogen-related related cancers-Individuals at risk of or having breast, ovarian, or prostate cancer should consult their provider before supplementing with a bovine supplement, as it contains estrogen.
Colostrum Supplements on the Market
BC contains over 250 bioactive compounds and because of it’s nutritional value, this has led to the development and production of BC nutritional supplements.14 Colostrum supplements can be found in various forms, including capsules, powders, and chewable tablets. While most of the current products contain BC, alone, one easily dissolvable product that can be added to liquids such as coffee or smoothies is currently available that is also combined with collagen.
It is essential to choose a reputable brand that sources its colostrum from organic, grass-fed cows or other mammals. Additionally, look for supplements that are free from fillers and additives. This will ensure you are getting a high-quality product with all the necessary nutrients and antibodies intact.
The health benefits of colostrum and its ability to support health food claims require additional study as a systematic review of studies revealed inconsistent findings and a risk of bias.15,16 As with any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before adding it to your daily routine.
In conclusion, colostrum supplementation has numerous health benefits. Its anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating properties make it a powerful supplement for the prevention and management of some diseases.
However, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement and to choose a reputable brand when purchasing colostrum supplements. With the right precautions and proper usage, colostrum can be an excellent addition to one’s health regimen.
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2. Batista da Silva Galdino A, do Nascimento Rangel AH, Buttar HS, et al. Bovine colostrum: benefits for the human respiratory system and potential contributions for clinical management of COVID-19. Food Agric Immunol. 2021;32(1). doi:10.1080/09540105.2021.1892594
3. Baśkiewicz-Hałasa M, Stachowska E, Grochans E, et al. Moderate Dose Bovine Colostrum Supplementation in Prevention of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Medical University Students: A Randomized, Triple Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2023;15(8). doi:10.3390/nu15081925
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8. Kruzel ML, Zimecki M, Actor JK. Lactoferrin in a context of inflammation-induced pathology. Front Immunol. 2017;8(NOV). doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.01438
9. Ooi TC, Ahmad A, Rajab NF, Sharif R. The Effects of 12 Weeks Colostrum Milk Supplementation on the Expression Levels of Pro-Inflammatory Mediators and Metabolic Changes among Older Adults: Findings from the Biomarkers and Untargeted Metabolomic Analysis. Nutrients. 2023;15(14). doi:10.3390/nu15143184
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12. Antonio J, Sanders MS, Van Gammeren D. The effects of bovine colostrum supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in active men and women. Nutrition. 2001;17(3). doi:10.1016/S0899-9007(00)00552-9
13. Kazimierska K, Kalinowska-Lis U. Milk Proteins—Their Biological Activities and Use in Cosmetics and Dermatology. Molecules. 2021;26(11):3253. doi:10.3390/molecules26113253
14. Poonia A, Shiva. Bioactive compounds, nutritional profile and health benefits of colostrum: a review. Food Production, Processing and Nutrition. 2022;4(1). doi:10.1186/s43014-022-00104-1
15. Blair M, Kellow NJ, Dordevic AL, Evans S, Caissutti J, McCaffrey TA. Health benefits of whey or colostrum supplementation in adults ≥35 years; A systematic review. Nutrients. 2020;12(2). doi:10.3390/nu12020299
16. Rathe M, Müller K, Sangild PT, Husby S. Clinical applications of bovine colostrum therapy: A systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2014;72(4). doi:10.1111/nure.12089
I am a Master’s prepared RN, National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Board-Certified Functional Wellness Coach, and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner. I help people fix their chronic inflammation & pain with in-home lab testing, client assessments, personalized natural healing protocols, and online coaching to help them move from pain to peace so that they feel better, move better, and live better.