Colostrum is a milky fluid that’s released by mammals that have recently given birth before breast milk production begins.
It’s an important source of nutrients that promotes growth and fights disease in infants, but it can also be consumed during other phases of life — typically in supplement form. Even though all mammals produce colostrum, supplements are usually made from the colostrum of cows. This supplement is known as bovine colostrum.
While colostrum is rich in macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, its claimed health benefits are mostly linked to specific protein compounds, which include:
- Lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is a protein involved in your body’s immune response to infections, including those caused by bacteria and viruses .
- Growth factors. Growth factors are hormones that stimulate growth. Bovine colostrum is especially high in two protein-based hormones, insulin-like growth factors 1 and 2, or IGF-1 and IGF-2
- Antibodies. Antibodies are proteins, also known as immunoglobulins, used by your immune system to fight bacteria and viruses. Bovine colostrum is rich in the antibodies IgA, IgG, and IgM .
Bovine colostrum may strengthen your immune system and help your body fight disease-causing agents.
The immune-boosting effects of colostrum are mostly due to its high concentration of the antibodies IgA and IgG.
Benefit Gut Health
Bovine colostrum may strengthen your gut and fight infections in the digestive tract.
Both animal and human studies show that bovine colostrum may stimulate the growth of intestinal cells, strengthen the gut wall, and prevent intestinal permeability, a condition that causes particles from your gut to leak to the rest of your body
Based on limited human research, bovine colostrum generally appears safe for most people — though it may have some downsides.
People who are allergic to milk should not consume bovine colostrum. Products may also be made with additives that can include other common allergens like soy.