7 Fact Based Health Benefits of Colostrum Supplements

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Colostrum is a yellowish mammary secretion provided to the newborns by the mammals during the first 24-48 hours after delivery.

It is called ‘Elixir of life’ as it is rich in nutrients, antimicrobial peptides, growth factors, and antibodies.

Colostrum supplements, mostly derived from bovine, are gaining importance as nutraceuticals to prevent or treat various immunity-related disorders and gastrointestinal conditions.[1] [2] [3]

Health Benefits of Colostrum Supplements

The key benefits of colostrum supplements include treating the rise in intestinal permeability and diarrhea. It may enhance immune function, increase exercise performance, and reduce influenza episodes. Few studies showed that it might reduce the symptoms of colitis and improve bone health.

1. Colostrum supplements reduced the increase in gut permeability

Colostrum supplements reduced the rise in gut permeability and prevented heatstroke induced by exercise. It also reversed the damage caused by NSAIDs.[4] [5]

A study showed that colostrum supplementation reduced intestinal permeability by 80% following exercise.[6]

In a randomized controlled study, colostrum supplementation reduced intestinal injury caused by exercise in the heat.[7]

Another study showed that spray-dried, defatted colostrum reduced the rise in gut permeability caused by indomethacin (NSAID) in patients.[8]

Animal studies showed that bovine colostrum might reduce an increase in intestinal permeability and villous mucosal damage caused by NSAIDs.[9]

What it means: Colostrum supplementation reduced the rise in intestinal permeability caused by exercise and NSAIDs consumption. It can thereby maintain gastrointestinal integrity. Additional studies are needed to determine the mechanisms by which colostrum leads to a decrease in intestinal permeability.

2. Colostrum supplements reduced diarrhea

Several studies showed that colostrums supplements reduced the occurrence of diarrhea and stool frequency.[10]

In a study, 50g of colostrums based supplementation twice a day for four weeks decreased stool frequency and self-sported fatigue in HIV patients.[11]

ColoPlus, a product based on bovine colostrum, decreased stool evacuations, fatigue, and an increase in body weight.[12]

Bovine colostrum supplementation reduced diarrhea episodes in children with recurrent URTI and diarrhea.[13]

It reduced the frequency of vomiting, diarrhea, and Vesikari scoring due to Rotavirus or E.coli infection in children.[14]

A tablet formulation containing hyperimmune bovine colostrum reduced the risk of traveler’s diarrhea.[15]

What it means: Colostrum supplementation reduced diarrhea and fatigue in HIV patients. It also reduced diarrheal episodes in children with URTI and E.coli infection. Further studies will evaluate the efficacy of colostrum in reducing diarrhea associated with different conditions.

3. Colostrum supplements may enhance immune function

Studies reported that oral colostrum consumption might enhance human immune responses.[16]

A study showed that consumption of bovine colostrum for 12 weeks increased s-IgA by 79% in distance runners. This may enhance the immune response of the body to fight against upper respiratory tract infections.[17]

In another study, bovine colostrum protein concentrate increased soluble TNF receptor-1, maintained IgG, and decreased suppressor T cells during regular training in cyclists.[18]

Bovine colostrum consumption increased serum IGF-1 and saliva IgA levels during exercise.[19]

However, bovine colostrums supplement did not have any effect on immunoglobin levels in elite swimmers.[20]

What it means: Colostrum supplementation may modulate immune function during training. It may increase sIgA, IGF-2, and decrease suppressor T cells in athletes. Additional research studies are warranted to study the immune-modulating properties of colostrum.

4. Colostrum supplements may prevent influenza episodes

Few studies showed that colostrum supplements might prevent flu episodes in healthy subjects.

A study showed that colostrum supplement was three times more effective in preventing flu than anti-influenza vaccination in healthy and high-risk cardiovascular subjects.[21]

In another study, a combination of colostrum with the Bifivir supplemented group showed lower flu episodes compared to the vaccination group.[22]

Another randomized controlled study showed that colostrum administration prevented episodes of respiratory tract infections in children aged 1-6 years.[23]

What it means: Some studies showed that colostrum supplements alone or with immunomodulators might reduce flu episodes compared to vaccination. More studies are required to examine the effectiveness of colostrums in preventing flu.

5. Colostrum supplements may enhance exercise performance

Some studies showed that colostrums supplementation might increase exercise performance by increasing lean body mass and plasma IGF-1.[24] [25]

In a randomized controlled study, eight-week supplementation of colostrum along with exercise training increased lean body mass in men and women.[26]

In another study involving older adults, bovine colostrum supplementation during exercise training increased leg press strength and reduced resorption of bones.[27]

Bovine colostrum supplementation during resistance and plyometric training increased peak anaerobic power in males.[28]

It improved the 40km time trial performance and maintained a ventilatory threshold in cyclists.[29]

What it means: Several studies showed that colostrum supplementation during resistance training might increase exercise performance. It increased lean body mass, peak anaerobic power, and leg press strength. Future studies will determine the efficacy of colostrum supplements in improving exercise-induced performance and endurance.

6. Colostrum supplements may treat symptoms of colitis

Colostrum supplements may reduce inflammation and modulate microbes associated with colitis.[30]

A study showed that the administration of colostrum improved symptoms of inflammation in a DSS-induced colitis mouse model.[31]

Serum-derived bovine protein isolates reduced the inflammatory response of colitis by increasing TGF-β secretion.[32]

Oral treatment with colostrum extract, IMM-124E decreased accumulation of pathogenic T cells, and increased regulatory T cells. It decreased intestinal inflammation associated with chronic colitis.[33]

What it means: Colostrum supplements may reduce intestinal damage, inflammation and improve clinical signs of colitis. More human research is required to understand the benefit of colostrum supplements in treating colitis.

7. Colostrum supplements may improve bone health

Preliminary animal studies showed that colostrum supplementation might improve bone health by increasing bone mineral density.

A study showed that bovine colostrum protein increased femur bone density and bone weight in Sprague-Dawley rats.[34]

Bovine colostrum acidic proteins increased the bone mineral density and reduced bone loss in ovariectomized rats.[35]

Growth protein-colostrum increased the growth of femur and bone mineral density in juvenile rats.[36]

What it means: Preliminary studies showed that colostrum protein supplementation reduced bone loss and increased bone mineral density. The effect of colostrum supplementation on human bone health has not yet been reported and, therefore, warrants further research.

Precautions

Possible Side effects of Colostrum

Colostrum is possibly safe when taken in appropriate amounts orally. It may cause nausea, vomiting, abnormal liver function, and decreased red blood cells in HIV patients.

Safety aspects related to Colostrum

Colostrum supplements may be safe for children. There is no reliable information about its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Therefore, avoid taking colostrum supplements during these times. If the individual is allergic to cow’s milk and milk products, avoid taking colostrum supplements.

Possible Drug Interactions with Colostrum

There is no documented colostrum interaction with other drugs.[37]

Dosage of Colostrum Supplements

There is no optimal recommended dose of colostrum supplements. According to examine.com, the standard dose of colostrum to produce a beneficial effect on intestinal health is 20-60g. [38]

FAQS

Does colostrum supplement help in treating Alzheimer’s disease?

Studies showed that Colostinin, an active component of colostrum, showed beneficial effects on Alzheimer’s disease. It improved stabilization in patients with mild to moderate dementia.[39] [40] [41] But the studies showing the effect of colostrum supplementation on treating Alzheimer’s disease is not found. Future studies will determine if colostrum supplements can help in reducing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

What is hyperimmune bovine colostrum?

Hyperimmune bovine colostrum is produced by vaccinating cow during gestation. It is rich in targeted immunoglobulins and may treat gastrointestinal infections.[42] [43] Future studies are required to investigate if hyperimmune bovine colostrum can reduce antibiotic resistance and provide a safe alternative to antibiotic therapy.

Summary

Colostrum supplements made from the first milk of mammals after giving birth are gaining popularity in recent years. It is rich in nutrients, immunoglobins and may enhance immunity, reduce diarrhea, increase exercise performance, and improve gut health.

Still, more research is needed about its potential benefits. Future research studies will determine its effectiveness in treating different conditions.