Is Colostrum the same as HMOs (human milk oligosaccharides)???

February 13, 2021 3 min read

Is Colostrum the same as HMOs (human milk oligosaccharides)??? - Layer Origin Nutrition

Is Colostrum the same as HMOs (Human Milk Oligosaccharides)???

It's a question we hear quite often at Layer Origin Nutrition. 

People have either heard of Colostrum or currently take it and say something to the effect of:

"What's the difference? Sounds like the same thing." 

The reality is that while there are some similarities between Colostrum and Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs), they are notthe same thing, and there is a huge difference between them. 

Let's dive in. 


Colostrum is is a breast fluid produced by humans, cows, and other mammals before breast milk is released.

It is not milk.

It is very nutritious and contains high levels of antibodies, which are proteins that can fight infections and bacteria.

This "pre-milk" promotes growth and health in infants and newborn animals, and research shows that taking bovine colostrum supplements may promote immunity, help fight infections, and improve gut health throughout life.

Bovine colostrum and spray-dried colostrum powderTo be clear, colostrum is notmilk.

It is a milky fluid that’s released by mammals that have recently given birth before breast milk production begins.

Even though all mammals produce colostrum, supplements are usually made from the colostrum of cows. This supplement is known as bovine colostrum.

From Science Direct: 

Bovine colostrum, a raw material for immune milk preparations, can be used to treat or prevent infections of the gastrointestinal tract. It is possible that colostral preparations aimed at specific consumers may play a significant role in healthcare in the future. Besides providing immune support, colostrum has remarkable muscular-skeletal repair and growth capabilities. Studies have shown that colostrum is the only natural source of two major growth factors namely, transforming growth factors alpha and beta, and insulin-like growth factors 1 and 2. These growth factors have significant muscle and cartilage repair characteristics. They promote wound healing with practical implications for trauma and surgical patients. Colostral growth factors have multiple regenerative effects that extend to all structural body cells, such as the gut.

For 300 million years, colostrum has protected and strengthened the mucosal barriers of infants prior to the maturation of their own barriers. 

Colostrum is often called “liquid gold” because it works as an immune blueprint with incredible health benefits.

There are over 5,000 published studies documenting the benefits of colostrum and its ability to benefit health at every stage of life.

Colostrum consumption is linked to fewer respiratory tract and GI infections in children and adults, including recent studies demonstrating that bovine colostrum is three times more effective than the flu vaccine at preventing flu.

Benefits of colostrum intake for humans: 

  • Anti-bacterial immune defense activity 
  • Rapid regeneration of the gut barrier 
  • Protection against inflammation in immune cells and gut cells 

Bovine colostrum is proven to transfer immune protection to other mammals against potential pathogens that the cow has encountered. Bovine colostrum contains various immune-active components, including immunoglobulins, prebiotic oligosaccharides, and bioactive peptides for immune protection against bacterial and viral threats.

Read more about colostrum here.1

Human Milk Oligosaccharide (HMO)  

Human Milk Oligosaccharides are a component of actual breast milk. Specifically, they are the third largest solid component in breastmilk following fat (lipids) and lactose. 

HMOs have no nutritive value.

They are a structurally and biologically diverse group of complex sugars that are indigestible.

But they dohave a biological benefit when it comes to bacteria. 

Pink Human Milk Oligosaccharide infographic For decades, research has shown that HMOs contribute to the development of the infant's microflora and immune system. Human milk oligosaccharides also have anti-adhesive properties, properties modulating the immune system, and impact on bacterial flora development.

Many health benefits result from consuming HMOs including a decreased risk of infection via their interactions with viruses, bacteria, or protozoa.2

In a 12-week study of adults who consumed the HMO 2'-Fucosyllactose, most adults saw a significant reduction in IBS symptoms, within four weeks. Those results were very encouraging: 

"Our findings suggest that oral supplementation with 2'FL and LNnT can provide nutritional support that significantly reduces abnormal stool consistency, abdominal pain and bloating and improves health-related quality of life in IBS sufferers of all subtypes."3


So no — Colostrum is not the same thing as HMO. They are both milk-adjacent substances that provide massive immune benefit to humans though. 

There is one product on the market that combines both HMO and colostrum in a single supplement: Layer Origin Nutrition's PureHMO® + Colostrum Powder, has both 2'-fucosyllactose and colostrum together for an extremely powerful combination. 

pure HMO with colostrum powder

Consider trying HMO, colostrum, or both to boost your immune system and gut health today. 


Written by: Layer Origin Nutrition staff









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