Colostrum is known as “mother’s milk” or “first milk” because it is highly concentrated in the first feeding of a nursing mother. In nature, newborn calves will consume colostrum from their mother within 12 hours or face severe health consequences and possibly even death.
Not only essential to mammals in the wild, humans may benefit greatly from their mother’s colostrum during the first few feedings in order to build and develop their immune system. Colostrum has been called “liquid gold” by many due to its powerful immune support.
While the benefits for newborns are well known, recent research indicates that bovine colostrum supplementation offers health benefits for young children, teens and adults.
Though not widely publicized, adults have been using bovine colostrum for thousands of years, particularly in ayurvedic medicine. After all, bovine colostrum is quite simply a more nutrient-dense version of what we have been encouraged to consume in various forms for years to achieve strong bones and teeth.
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the exciting research on the benefits of bovine colostrum, much of which I have witnessed firsthand in my own health journey.
1. Reduces inflammation
Bovine colostrum is particularly high in lactoferrin, a protein critical in the metabolism of iron. This powerful moderator rises in our bodies during times of increased inflammation by working to help lower the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6. As a testament to its importance, doctors test for lactoferrin levels in their patient’s stool to help diagnose C. Diff. Colitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).
Years of unhealthy food, toxins, and stress can lead to leaky gut syndrome – a condition that results in damage to the intestinal lining. When this occurs, undigested food and bacterial endotoxins “leak” into the bloodstream resulting in a cascade of inflammation which increases your likelihood of chronic health problems such as heart disease and autoimmune conditions. According to research, lactoferrin has the ability to bind to endotoxins, neutralizing their effect and in turn, reduce inflammation. 1, 2
Lactoferrin plays a role in activating T-cells, antigen response pathways and the ability of enzymes to function. It has been found to scavenge for free radicals and is also a strong antioxidant which aids the body in the detoxification process. Decreased circulating lactoferrin handicaps the autoimmune response and increases the risk of cancer and autoimmune diseases. 2
Lactoferrin boosts healthy immune stimulating responses by decreasing the toxic load on the lymphatic system. An effective detoxification agent, lactoferrin contained in colostrum prevents invasive agents found in our everyday environment such as water and food supply from being pushed into lymph nodes. 3
As a result, colostrum may decrease the duration of a cold. 4, 5, 6
2. Supports a healthy gut
Lactoferrin acts as a prebiotic and stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the gut such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. It also has been shown to support the health of the gastrointestinal tract by promoting cell growth in the intestines. This helps to soothe inflammation and heal a damaged gut. 1, 4
3. Promotes ligament and muscle healing.
Bovine colostrum is a powerhouse for promoting muscle growth and healing due to its high amount of antioxidants and growth factors, including insulin like growth-factor-l (IGF-I). Bovine colostrum supplementation can reduce oxidative stress and overall damage to muscles after exercise, making this a perfect food to support athletes. Studies showed that 8 weeks of bovine colostrum supplementation increases lean muscle mass and athletic performance. 3
4. Strengthens immunity
Bovine colostrum powder is rich in immunoglobulins, substances formed from human plasma and contain antibodies that aid immune response. They are essential for building and maintaining a healthy immune system.
There are five classes of immunoglobulins:
- Immunoglobulin A (IgA)
- Immunoglobulin G (IgG)
- Immunoglobulin M (IgM)
- Immunoglobulin E (IgE)
- Immunoglobulin D (IgD)
Immunoglobulins recognize, bind and destroy bacteria, toxins, viruses, and other antigens. The body produces antibodies to fight off antigens. Then, the next time an antigen enters the body, it stimulates the production of identical
antibodies. 1, 2, 4, 7
The use of colostrum in the treatment of patients with metabolic syndrome, such as those with type-2 diabetes, has been shown to heal liver damage, regulate fatty acid levels, increase insulin and better regulate a health concern known as postprandial glucose response associated with elevated glucose levels following a meal. 6, 8
With increased interest in colostrum there will undoubtedly be more research to examine and confirm the effects of adult supplementation. If you would like to introduce colostrum into your daily regimen, make sure the source is from predominantly grass-fed cows free of artificial growth hormones. This unique nutritional supplement offers immune-enhancing benefits, while the growth factors in it help increase energy levels and speed tissue repair. It truly is a wonder food.
How To Take Colostrum
We receive quite a few inquiries on how to take our Colostrum supplement. It is a very fine powder that may be a bit clumpy at times, and will not dissolve in water without the use of a blender. It does however, mix well in smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, broths, and more. I personally take a single tsp serving directly on my tongue and wash it down immediately with juice; rinse and repeat. In its powder form, we recommend between 3 and 6 tsp daily.
- Hakansson AP. Protective effects of human milk antimicrobial peptides against bacterial infection. J Pediatr. 2015 Jan-Feb; 91(1):4-5. PMID: 25458872
- Zaczynska E, et al. Bovine lactoferrin enhances proliferation of human peripheral blood lymphocytes and induces cytokine production in whole blood cultures. Adv Clin Exp Med. 2014 Nov-Dec; 23(6):871-6. PMID: 25618111
- Antonio J, et al. The Effects of Bovine Colostrum Supplementation on Body Composition and Exercise Performance in Active Men and Women. 2001 Mar;17(3):243-7. PMID: 11312068
- WebMD: Bovine Colostrum
- Madi A, et al. Tumor-Associated and Disease-Associated Autoantibody Repertoires in Healthy_Colostrum and Maternal and Newborn Cord Sera. J Immunol. 2015 Jun; 194(11): 5272-5281. PMCID: 4432729
- Ya’acow AB, et al. The Gut microbiome as a target for regulatory T cell-based immunotherapy: induction of regulatory lymphocytes by oral administration of anti-LPS enriched colostrum alleviates immune mediated colitis. BMC Gastroenterol. 2015; 15:154. PMCID: 4628342
- Thyer L, et al. GC protein-derived macrophage-activating factor decreases a-N-acetylgalactosaminidase levels in advanced cancer patients. Oncoimmunology. 2013 Aug;2(8):e25769. PMCID: 3812199
- Inui T, et al. Oral Colostrum Macrophage-activating Factor for Serious Infection and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Three Case Reports. Anticancer Res. 2015 Aug; 35(8):4545-9. PMID: 26168499