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.
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.