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What Are the Benefits of Colostrum Supplements?

Posted by Dr. Charlie Ware. AP, DOM on Oct 12, 2020 4:32:57 PM

benefits-of-colostrum-supplements

Colostrum is gaining popularity in the nutritional supplement realm, and for a good reason. Packed full of antibodies, nutrients, and immune factors, colostrum offers a myriad of health benefits and is relatively well-tolerated.*

Supplemental colostrum comes in raw, rehydrated, and capsule forms. An important distinction is that colostrum is not milk, but instead is often referred to as “first milk” and is produced by all mammals during pregnancy. Colostrum has a high concentration in antibodies, key nutrients, growth factors, and more that we don’t find in any other source.*

Colostrum promotes health in newborn infants and animals. However, studies show that supplementation for adults can promote a healthy gut, protect against foreign invaders, boost immunity, and improve brain health.*

What Does Colostrum Do For the Body?

Colostrum is highly nutritious and provides unique health benefits for children and adults. A few of the most notable benefits are:

  • GI Health*
  • Immune Health*
  • Normal Cell Repair*
  • Healthy Aging*
  • Brain Health & Mood*

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Gut Health

The gut (intestinal tract) is responsible for breaking down and absorbing nutrients, eliminating waste, and also plays a vital role in detoxification and immune function. In fact, upwards of 80% of the immune system is housed in the gut.[1]

Studies suggest that bovine colostrum with probiotics supports gut health, largely due to the protein secretory IgA, which is an antibody and key player in immune function.* Low levels of sigA could contribute to autoimmune health issues, digestive challenges, and loose stools.[2][3] The growth factors and protein lactoferrin in colostrum stimulate the growth of intestinal cells and strengthen the gut wall, which may help to prevent intestinal permeability (AKA leaky gut).*

Colostrum is also used in loose stool support protocols, as its antibody content and the protein lactoferrin have been associated with the prevention and support of diarrhea caused by bacterial or viral infections.

Immune Function

Colostrum is highly concentrated in antibodies IgG and IgA, proteins that fight foreign invaders.*[4] Experts suggest that colostrum supplementation might be particularly effective in combating upper respiratory tract problems, and has been used by competitive athletes for immune system support.*

Normal Cell Repair

Primarily due to its growth factors, colostrum supplementation helps with muscle growth, muscle and cartilage repair, bone healing and regeneration.* Some integrative medical practitioners also use colostrum for supporting joint discomfort, occasional inflammation, and stiffness.*

Healthy Aging

Many of colostrum's benefits work in conjunction to support healthy aging.* Mainly because of its impact on muscle growth and support, bone density, inflammatory support properties, and regenerative effects on the body's structural cells, promoting skin elasticity and vitality.* In studies on mice, colostrum increased lifespan and improved sensory and motor activities.*[5]

Colostrum for Brain Health & Mood Support*

Perhaps the most impressive benefit of colostrum supplementation is its use for brain health and mood support.* This makes perfect sense when you consider how rapidly infant’s brains develop. Colostrum helps the cells communicate more efficiently and has been shown to improve neurological pathways and plasticity.*

Studies show that supplementation with colostrinin (a polypeptide derived from colostrum) improves cognitive markers in individuals in the early to mid-stages of cognitive decline, likely due to the findings that colostrinin decreases lipid peroxidation and reduces levels of reactive oxygen species.* Supplementation also inhibits the build-up of amyloid-beta fibrils that contribute to brain plaques.*[6]

Colostrum’s IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) helps to synthesize serotonin, inhibit age-related mood issues, and even balance the brain’s blood glucose.* [7]

RELATED CONTENT: Amyloid Plaque & Brain Health

Colostrum Benefits Takeaways

  • Colostrum is packed full of immunoglobulins, growth factors, nutrients, and digestive enzymes that stimulate cellular growth, healing, and restoration.*
  • It has pProline-rich polypeptides that promote brain function.*
  • Colostrum supplements are being used for gut health, graceful aging, cognitive support, exercise recovery, and immune strengthening.*

Who Can Benefit from Colostrum?

Every nutritional supplement should be discussed with your functional medicine doctor, but colostrum is generally considered a well-tolerated nutritional supplement, with very few reported adverse effects.

Specific populations that might benefit from colostrum include children who are experiencing bloating, having trouble sleeping, or concentrating in school.* Teenagers and adults with gut issues and weekend warriors who engage in intense weekend workouts and need recovery support may also benefit.* Those dealing with memory, concentration, and other cognitive concerns should talk to their doctor about whether colostrum could help.*

By Dr. Charlie Ware

brain health nutrition


[1] Wu, H. J., & Wu, E. (2012). The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut microbes, 3(1), 4–14. https://doi.org/10.4161/gmic.19320

[2] Sanctuary, M. R., Kain, J. N., Chen, S. Y., Kalanetra, K., Lemay, D. G., Rose, D. R., Yang, H. T., Tancredi, D. J., German, J. B., Slupsky, C. M., Ashwood, P., Mills, D. A., Smilowitz, J. T., & Angkustsiri, K. (2019). Pilot study of probiotic/colostrum supplementation on gut function in children with autism and gastrointestinal symptoms. PloS one, 14(1), e0210064. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0210064

[3] Campbell A. W. (2014). Autoimmunity and the gut. Autoimmune diseases, 2014, 152428. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/152428

[4] Stelwagen K, Carpenter E, Haigh B, Hodgkinson A, Wheeler TT. Immune components of bovine colostrum and milk. J Anim Sci. 2009 Apr;87(13 Suppl):3-9. doi: 10.2527/jas.2008-1377. Epub 2008 Oct 24. PMID: 18952725.

[5] Lemieszewska, M., Jakubik-Witkowska, M., Stańczykiewicz, B., Zambrowicz, A., Zabłocka, A., Polanowski, A., Trziszka, T., & Rymaszewska, J. (2016). Pro-Cognitive Properties of the Immunomodulatory Polypeptide Complex, Yolkin, from Chicken Egg Yolk and Colostrum-Derived Substances: Analyses Based on Animal Model of Age-Related Cognitive Deficits. Archivum immunologiae et therapiae experimentalis, 64(5), 425–434. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00005-016-0392-z

[6] Janusz M, Zabłocka A. Colostral proline-rich polypeptides--immunoregulatory properties and prospects of therapeutic use in Alzheimer's disease. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2010 Jun;7(4):323-33. doi: 10.2174/156720510791162377. PMID: 19939229.

[7] Kim, T. W., Kim, C. J., & Seo, J. (2017). Effects of colostrum serum on the serotonergic system in the dorsal raphe nuclei of exercised rats. Journal of exercise nutrition & biochemistry, 21(1), 33–39. https://doi.org/10.20463/jenb.2017.0047

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