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.
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.