Colostrum is the initial milk secreted by cows immediately after giving birth. It is different in nutrient composition to mature cow’s milk. It has a much higher concentration of immunoglobulins, growth factors and anti-microbial proteins, all of which are involved in the body’s immune function.
Eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep, maintaining hydration and keeping stress levels to a minimum are key ways to maintain a healthy immune system. However, there are very few of us who lead a lifestyle that ticks all of these boxes! There is a large market for supplements to help boost immune function and it’s sometimes hard to work out which ones might actually do what they say on the packet. Because of the potential immune-enhancing benefits of colostrum there has been considerable research into its efficacy over the last decade.
Colostrum from cows (bovine colostrum) may offer benefits to adults similar to some of the benefits of human colostrum for newborns. In particular, bovine colostrum can reduce gut leakiness. Gut leakiness is where the intestines become too permeable, so that large food molecules, bacterial and fungal toxins and wastes can pass straight into the bloodstream. More of the wastes in the bowel can seep into the bloodstream, while less of the nutrients that are supposed to be absorbed can get in. Therefore vitamin, mineral and essential fatty acids deficiencies can develop. Additional benefits of bovine colostrum include increased energy, reduced risk of upper respiratory infection and the protection of intestines from damage by anti-inflammatory medications.
Colostrum supplements contain a certain amount of lactose and may cause lactose intolerance if you are allergic to lactose. Colostrum supplements may also cause mild nausea and flatulence
There is an upper limit to the amount of bovine colostrum that is beneficial, which seems to be between 20 – 30 grams per day, and it needs to be taken for at least 8 weeks continuously for any benefits to be seen.