What is Colostrum and what health benefits does it offer?
By Beau Berman
August 4, 2021
What is Colostrum and What Health Benefits Does It Provide?
Colostrum is gaining popularity in the wellness world—and for good reason. Produced by humans, cows, and other mammals, colostrum is a milk-like breast fluid that’s packed with nutrients. While this nutritious substance is biologically necessary for newborns, new research is emerging about the benefits of taking colostrum as an adult.
Don’t worry—you don’t need to buy human breast milk online to reap the rewards. Instead, you can purchase colostrum supplements that are derived from bovine sources.
So what benefits can you expect from taking bovine colostrum?
Here's what you need to know.
What exactly is colostrum?
Colostrum is a nutrient-rich fluid produced by female mammals immediately after giving birth. Despite being referred to as “first milk,” colostrum is not milk but rather a milk-like liquid that's released before breast milk production begins.
While colostrum is rich in vitamins, minerals, fats, and carbohydrates, most of its health benefits stem from specific protein compounds, including:
- Lactoferrin: a protein involved in the body’s immune response to infections, including those caused by bacteria and viruses.
- Growth Factors: hormones that stimulate growth. Bovine colostrum is exceptionally high in IGF-1 and IGF-2.
- Antibodies: proteins used by the body’s immune system to fight bacteria and viruses. Bovine colostrum is rich in the antibodies IgA and IgG
Colostrum is crucial for the growth and health of babies, but it can also be consumed during other phases of life, often as a bovine-derived supplement to support health.
What are the health benefits of colostrum?
Research suggests that bovine colostrum may offer humans many health benefits when taken as a supplement.
1. Boosts Immunity
Bovine colostrum is one of the best supplements that can be taken by adults and children that are no longer nursing to support their immune health. This is because bovine colostrum has a high concentration of IgA and IgG antibodies, which fight foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria.
Many studies have linked bovine colostrum supplements with enhanced immune function, especially in athletes. For example, one 12-week study in 35 adult distance runners found that taking a daily bovine colostrum supplement increased the amount of saliva IgA antibodies by a whopping 79 percent, compared to baseline levels. The researchers suggested that the higher levels of IgA in the saliva may strengthen immunity and enhance the body’s ability to fight upper respiratory infections.
2. Supports a healthy gut
Both human and animal studies have shown that bovine colostrum may stimulate the growth of intestinal cells and prevent intestinal permeability. These benefits are attributed to lactoferrin, an immune-boosting protein in colostrum that acts as a prebiotic and stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
3. Reduces inflammation
In addition to its gut-healing properties, lactoferrin is a powerful inflammation moderator by lowering pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6. In fact, doctors test lactoferrin levels in patients’ stool to help diagnose C.diff, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.
4. Promotes ligament and muscle healing
Bovine colostrum is highly effective in promoting muscle growth and healing due to the high amount of antioxidants and growth factors. In addition, studies demonstrate that supplementing with bovine colostrum can reduce oxidative stress and overall damage to muscles after exercise. This makes it an ideal supplement for athletes to include in their routine.
5. Supports brain health
When you consider how quickly an infant’s brain develops, it should come as no surprise that colostrum provides powerful brain support. In addition, studies have shown that supplementing with the colostrum-derived proline-rich polypeptide, also known as Colostrinin (CLN), has a stabilizing effect on cognitive function in Alzheimer's disease patients. While more research needs to be done, these initial findings are very promising.
Another valuable supplement: human milk oligosaccharides (HMO)
People often confuse colostrum with another substance called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). While they are both very beneficial, they are different, so we wanted to take a moment to clear up any confusion.
Colostrum is not actual milk, whereas HMOs are a component of natural breast milk. In fact, HMOs are the most abundant solid ingredient in breast milk after lipids (fat) and lactose (carbohydrates).
Unlike colostrum, HMOs have no nutritional value. Instead, they are indigestible sugars that act as prebiotics in the gut. As a result, they contribute to the development of infants’ microflora and immune systems. Thus, HMOs may at least partially explain why breastfed babies tend to have more robust immune systems than those who are bottle-fed.
Just as with colostrum, adults can benefit from supplementing with HMOs. Studies show that supplementing with HMOs may help support gut health, immune function, and cognition in adults.
Combining these two powerhouse supplements
At this point, you may be wondering which supplement to choose: bovine colostrum or HMO prebiotics? We say, why choose one or the other? Adding both of these supplements into your routine will provide you with the best of both worlds. At Layer Origin Nutrition, we offer a PureHMO + Colostrum Capsules supplement, which combines these two ingredients for potent immune system and digestion support.
Unlike human colostrum, bovine colostrum doesn’t contain oligosaccharide prebiotics. The addition of HMOs to bovine colostrum provides the missing oligosaccharide prebiotics, creating a closer formulation to human colostrum.
The HMO prebiotics used in our formula are produced using fermentation technology instead of isolating them from human milk. The colostrum used in this product is whole and non-defatted, meaning it contains all of the nutritious compounds it’s supposed to have.
The Bottom Line
Mother’s milk isn’t just for babies anymore. Now, you can reap the incredible health benefits of colostrum and HMOs by taking a high-quality supplement, such as PureHMO + Colostrum Capsules. Colostrum is rich in disease-fighting compounds and may play an essential role in improving immunity, gut health, inflammation, and muscle healing.
At the same time, HMO prebiotics have been shown to support immune health, gut health, and cognitive development.
Together, these two substances provide a synergistic effect that supports your health and wellness at any age.