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Bovine Colostrum: The Immunity Booster You Should Know About

Good health is a synthesis of several factors, chief among them is a wholesome and nutritious diet. Good health begins in the gut.

How do you keep up good health, especially if you have a busy lifestyle and packed schedule? Eating healthy with superfoods goes a long way, and natural supplements are often recommended. These contribute to your body’s ability to stay strong. Colostrum, as a natural supplement, has piqued the interest of researchers and studies are underway to understand the host of nutritional benefits it offers.

What is bovine colostrum?

Bovine colostrum is produced by cows who have just given birth. Before they are milked for human consumption, they produce colostrum. It’s a milky fluid that is very rich in nutrients. Colostrum is produced by humans too, and this has always been known to promote growth and improve the health of new-borns. However, emerging research is exploring its effectiveness in strengthening immunity and improving gut health through all life stages.

Although all mammals produce colostrum after giving birth, most colostrum supplements are made from bovine colostrum. It is available in a number of different forms from pills to powders, which makes it convenient to add to your diet.

Bovine colostrum may be the natural health supplement you’re looking for. Why?

May boost your immune system

It has been found that bovine colostrum contains a lot of macronutrients including proteins like lactoferrin, and fats. Lactoferrin contributes to your body’s response to infections. Colostrum is also rich in vitamins (Bs, As and C, among others) and minerals. The antibodies or immunoglobulins it has – particularly IgG, IgM and IgA – help your body fight against viruses.

May improve your gut health

Some studies indicate that it can help strengthen intestinal walls, stimulate the growth of new intestinal cells and resist intestinal permeability. Intestinal permeability is what results in conditions like the ‘leaky gut’ syndrome in which particles from your intestines leak out into the rest of your body. Lactoferrin could be what is contributing to the strengthening of the gut.

A small study (double blind & placebo-controlled) tried to understand the effects of bovine colostrum in relation to its gut strengthening benefits. The 12 athletes in the study were susceptible to intestinal permeability thanks to their rigorous physical training. The supplement dose given was just 20 grams per day, and it was found that it prevented 80% of the increase in permeability that was seen in those who consumed the placebo. There are further studies being conducted on the possible benefits that bovine colostrum could offer in relation to treating colitis.

How much will bovine colostrum assist your health?

Scientific work is underway to assess the benefits of this emerging nutraceutical (a food that provides health benefits).  Researchers have been particularly interested in its gut improvement and immunity boosting contributions.  Studies are being conducted to understand its benefits in treating specific conditions such as colitis and diarrhoea.

The role it may play in improving gastrointestinal conditions is promising. Scientists are looking at the possibility that it could be used to treat damage to the stomach caused by excessive use of non-steroid anti-inflammatories, infections with specific bacteria (such as those related to stomach ulcers) and infectious diarrhoea.

A study from 2018 with baby macaque monkeys found that this supplement helped improve the mineral density of their bones.

In a nutshell, the nutrients in bovine colostrum could help your body fight disease and boost your immunity. It could also promote growth and benefit gut health. Both human and animal studies are being conducted to understand the extent of this supplement’s benefits.

FAQ about bovine colostrum

Is bovine colostrum dairy free?

Colostrum doesn’t contain lactose, so it is considered to be safe for those who are lactose intolerant. However, bovine colostrum supplements could contain other common allergens like soy, so you should check with a health professional before adding them to your diet.

What does bovine colostrum look like?

Colostrum’s texture resembles highly concentrated milk liquid. It can be quite thick and sticky. The colour could vary. In its original form it could be white or yellow. Sometimes it’s even clear. But the bovine colostrum supplements that reach you will be in the form of a pills or powders. 

Is bovine colostrum safe to consume?

Based on human research that has been conducted so far, bovine colostrum supplements seem to be safe for most people to consume. However, we do not yet have an answer on whether it is safe for pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding. It is advised that you begin this supplement on the recommendation of a qualified health professional.

Since this is a natural supplement obtained from cows, their diet also influences the colostrum’s efficacy. It’s wise to buy only those supplements that have been tested to show that they are free from synthetic hormones, antibiotics as well as pesticides.

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How Can Colostrum Help Your Health?

Packaged as powders or pills, bovine colostrum supplements offer adults far more nutrients than regular cow’s milk. This powerful, natural formula can help muscles heal, aid in combating infections and improve gut health.

colustrum

Colostrum is produced by mothers just before and immediately after the baby is born. All female mammals produce colostrum and it has been described as nature’s formula for newborns. It’s packed with nutrients to protect and strengthen them. But according to recent research, the nutrients present in bovine colostrum can benefit adult humans in a number of ways as well. 

Benefits of bovine colostrum supplements for adults

Several studies have been conducted and more are underway to further explore the value of bovine colostrum supplements. So far, we’ve been able to understand that it is rich in nutritionally beneficial vitamins, minerals, antibodies, digestive enzymes and fats. These are advantageous not just for infants, but for adults in different phases of their lives. 

Some of the most valuable inclusions in bovine colostrum are lactoferrin (a powerful inflammation modulator), growth factors and antibodies.  

There are a few ways in which this supplement is useful to adults.

1. Colostrum helps strengthen the immune system

One of the most common reasons that people take bovine colostrum supplements is to strengthen their immune system. It contains a high concentration of immunoglobulin G (or IgG), and this antibody is known to produce systemic immunity to help fight infections better. Bovine colostrum aids in balancing the immune system so that the body stands a better chance in battling infections and pathogens. 

2. Colostrum is good for your gut

Many people say that good health starts at the gut, and it may surprise you to know that nearly 70% of your immunity sits in your gut. Besides absorbing and assimilating nutrients, your intestines also help to detoxify your body. A healthy gut further contributes to the strength of your immune system.  

The nutrients in bovine colostrum help in fortifying the health of your gut. Lactoferrin plays a key role in this aspect, acting as a prebiotic to encourage the growth of good bacteria, promoting cell growth in the intestines and helping damaged cells to heal. As an inflammation modulator, lactoferrin aids in countering the effects of conditions like the ‘leaky gut’ syndrome. It also binds and neutralises the bacterial endotoxins that cause inflammation. 

One of the conditions that bovine colostrum supplements could help ward off is diarrhoea. When this supplement is taken daily, it has been shown to strengthen the gut sufficiently to significantly reduce the risk of developing diarrhoea. Other studies have also shown that this supplement has resulted in an improvement of chronic diarrhoea conditions in immunocompromised individuals.  

3. Colostrum promotes growth

Bovine colostrum has been found to contain transforming growth factors alpha and beta. It also has insulin-like growth factors one and two. What these do is promote the repair of damaged cartilage and muscle, helping the body heal better. This means that it may even be able to reduce recovery periods. It is this property of bovine colostrum that is making it a popular supplement amongst athletes. It’s especially beneficial after vigorous work outs. 

A study published in 2012 looked at how bovine colostrum influenced oxidative stress caused by exercise in skeletal muscles. To study this, they gave a group of mice bovine colostrum supplements every day. At the end of the prescribed term, it was concluded that this supplement was beneficial in reducing oxidant-induced damage to skeletal muscles. These growth factors are applicable to all structural body cells including the gut. Studies showed that colostrum supplements worked better than whey protein to increase body weight. 

What’s the difference between colostrum and milk?

Although they are both produced by the mammary glands just after a baby is born, colostrum and milk are not the same thing. Colostrum fluid is slightly different in appearance, it has been described to be yellowish in colour while milk is whiter. Colostrum  is produced immediately postpartum, so it’s made before milk. It is a much more concentrated formula and is simply packed with nutrients. Besides containing plenty of fat and proteins, it also has key antibodies that protect newborns and help them fight off infections. It is often considered to be the first form of immune defence for infants, designed by nature to help them survive at their youngest. 

On the other hand, milk production begins after colostrum production stops. Milk can continue to be produced for months (sometimes even years) post birth. It is not as nutrient dense but still  contains beneficial protein, micronutrients and hormones (among others).

What is hyperimmune colostrum?

The interest in using bovine colostrum to treat specific medical issues has led to studying the effectiveness of hyperimmune colostrum. The short explanation is that the cows are vaccinated for specific conditions so that the antibodies they produce against these conditions will be present in their colostrum. The idea is that this hyperimmune colostrum can then help humans better fight certain conditions. 

Is there a catch?

While colostrum does seem like a super-nutrient with its wide range of benefits, it must be kept in mind that this is just a supplement, not a cure for any condition. It can give your overall health a boost but as with any supplement, it works in conjunction with a variety of factors to do so. 

The benefits of bovine colostrum as a supplement for adults is relatively new and investigations are still on to prove these benefits on a larger scale. Both human and animal studies that have been conducted so far have yielded promising results.

Points to keep in mind about bovine colostrum

  • There is some risk of allergic reactions, especially if you have a history of intolerance to milk or soy products. If you do, it is recommended that you find alternatives to this supplement.

However, if the supplement is sourced from a reputable establishment and made with colostrum from cows that have been grass-fed (without any artificial hormone injections), the likelihood of these reactions taking place is minimal. 

  • The standard dosage of bovine colostrum is yet to be determined, although its use is generally considered to be safe. You can consult your local doctor for a dosage recommendation. As it is available as capsules, powders and pills, bovine colostrum is quite easy to access and consume. The powders can simply be mixed in with liquids. So far, it has no known drug interactions. 
  • Remember to always get your supplements from a reputable source. As an animal product, there are certain protocols that need to be adhered to while processing bovine colostrum. For one thing, these supplements need to be properly pasteurised so it’s safe to use.

Everything we put into our bodies has an impact on our overall health. Thanks to the close connection between your gut and your immune system, it goes without saying that your diet plays a huge role in determining the state of your health. Natural supplements can boost your nutrient intake and colostrum is full of valuable nutrients that benefit adults as well.

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Understanding Colostrum and Unlocking its Wellness Benefits

Colostrum is vital for infants, and new research suggests that its nutrients are beneficial throughout your lifespan. Colostrum supplements can aid several areas from gut health to muscle healing. 

colostrum health benefits

Research now suggests that adults can benefit from these nutrients as well. Bovine colostrum has several nutrients that are advantageous to human health during different phases of their lives. In fact, ayurvedic medicinal practices have been recommending this first milk from cows as a wellness supplement for decades.

Why bovine colostrum?

Colostrum is produced by all mammals for their young and as we have come to depend on cow’s milk as a source of nutrition, it is natural to explore the benefits of bovine colostrum as well. 

It has been found to be rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins that fight against disease and digestive enzymes, amongst other nutrients. Bovine colostrum supplements are made by pasteurising colostrum obtained from healthy, grass-fed cows. This formula is dried out and then made into powders or pills. These supplements are easy to procure and can simply be mixed into a liquid to consume. 

Bovine colostrum has been described as a slightly yellowish product that has a taste and smell that is similar to buttermilk. To reap the best benefits of this formula, it’s important that the source of bovine colostrum supplements be grass-fed cows rather than those raised with artificial hormone supplements. 

Based on the research conducted so far, bovine colostrum has been found to strengthen immunity, promote the health of your gut, and help you fight infections better. 

Benefits of bovine colostrum

One of the key nutrients present in bovine colostrum is ‘lactoferrin’, which has widely beneficial properties. Besides being anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial in nature, it is also an inflammation modulator. Both animal and human studies have indicated that bovine colostrum is valuable for gut health in particular.

1. Restores gut health 

Conditions like the ‘leaky gut’ syndrome are often the result of an unhealthy diet and exposure to toxins for several years. Those diagnosed with this condition have a damaged intestinal lining which makes the gut ‘leaky’. Consequently, things like food particles and bacterial endotoxins leak out of the intestine and into the bloodstream. This causes inflammation throughout the body and increases the risk of developing some serious chronic conditions including heart disease. 

As mentioned above, bovine colostrum supplies the body with an inflammation modulator—lactoferrin. Lactoferrin binds bacterial endotoxins and neutralises their effects to reduce inflammation

Lactoferrin also plays the role of a prebiotic and encourages good bacteria to grow in your gut. It promotes cell growth in the intestines, reduces inflammation and helps a damaged gut heal. 

One approach suggested that the cows are given immunisations against specific strains of bacteria so they are able to produce colostrum that is high in antibodies against those infections. This hyperimmune bovine colostrum is being studied as novel therapy to fight specific conditions.

For example, one study supplied a few volunteers with a 1200 mg dose of hyperimmune bovine colostrum that contained antibodies to fight E. coli bacteria. And the rest of the volunteers were given a placebo. It was found that those who took the hyperimmune colostrum doses every day were 90 percent less likely to develop the common traveller’s diarrhoea than the rest of the volunteers. 

2. Boost your immunity

The concentrated presence of antibodies IgA and IgG in bovine colostrum may help strengthen the immune system. The results of a 12-week study found that taking bovine colostrum supplements daily increased the amount of IgA antibodies in the saliva of distance runners by 79 percent (when compared to baseline levels). It was suggested that these increased levels would make their immune systems stronger and give their bodies a better chance to fight off respiratory tract infections. 

Another study looked at the effect of oral lactoferrin given to mice with suppressed immune systems as a result of chemo or autoimmune conditions. They saw an improvement in the strength of their immune systems. 

Lactoferrin has also been known to promote immune-balancing T-cells and boost the number of white blood cells – both of which help the body fight pathogens. Lactoferrin’s ability to bind bacterial cells and viral cells help to limit or reduce the growth of pathogens

3. Promote muscle healing 

Colostrum is known to be rich in antioxidants and in growth factors. Growth factors are hormones that prompt growth and bovine colostrum has been found to have two growth factors – IGF-1 and 2. Both of these are protein-based hormones and contribute to the colostrum’s ability to promote healing and growth of muscles. A study exploring these properties found that colostrum supplements reduce both oxidative stress and general damage to muscles, post work-outs. Separate studies also indicated that when used for 8 weeks, bovine colostrum supplements helped to increase lean muscle mass. 

Research has just begun on this exceptional supplement and promising results from both animal as well as human studies are sure to encourage further investigations.  Supplements derived from this ‘first milk’ of cows are easily accessible and indicate a whole host of wellness benefits. 

Bovine colostrum is not recommended for those who react badly to or are intolerant to cow’s milk. Do consult a physician before adding it to your prescribed supplements. It should also be noted that colostrum powders and pills may also contain common allergens like cow’s milk or soy. Sourcing bovine colostrum from a safe, reputable outlet is extremely important as it must be properly pasteurised.