Ready to uplevel your supplement routine? If so, say hello to colostrum. That’s right. This magical elixir is like liquid gold for your body. Touted as a superfood, colostrum is an unrivaled nutrient powerhouse. If you’re a mom, postpartum doula, lactation consultant, neonatal nurse, or pediatrician (to name a few!) you know the life-changing benefits of colostrum. While colostrum is traditionally associated with newborns and infants, adults can reap its rewards as well. And today, we’re diving into colostrum benefits. From enhancing athletic performance to improving gut health, colostrum is a versatile supplement worth the shelf space.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
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What is colostrum?
For a quick science lesson, there are three stages of breast milk (produced by female mammals): colostrum, transitional milk, and mature milk. We’re focusing on the former. Colostrum is produced during the first few days after birth. As long as a proper latch is established, colostrum will provide a newborn with all the nutrients, fluids, and calories that the baby needs—hence the name, liquid gold.
No matter which mammal it comes from, colostrum contains a high concentration of antibodies, growth factors, and other essential nutrients.
Colostrum Is Profoundly Nutritious
The nutrient profile—and immunological composition—of colostrum differs substantially from mature milk. For instance, compared to mature milk (which comes in about a month after a mother has given birth), colostrum is three times richer in vitamin A and 10 times richer in beta-carotene. This beta-carotene is what gives colostrum its golden yellow hue!
It’s the first nutrition we receive and contains all of the essential nutrients our bodies need to thrive. For 300 million years, it has served the vital function of protecting and strengthening the mucosal barriers of infants before their own barrier matures.
What is bovine colostrum?
For most of us, we know colostrum as a source of nutrients for infants. However, it can also be consumed during other phases of life—in supplement form! All female mammals produce colostrum, but supplements are usually made from cow colostrum. Enter: bovine colostrum. Bovine colostrum is similar to human colostrum. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, disease-fighting proteins, growth hormones, and digestive enzymes. In recent years, bovine colostrum supplements have skyrocketed.
Where do bovine colostrum supplements come from?
These supplements come from cows. Colostrum is pasteurized and dried into pills or powders, which can then be mixed with liquids. Bovine colostrum typically has a light yellow color and a subtle taste. Its smell resembles buttermilk. Our favorite bovine colostrum supplement? ARMRA. Harnessing the power of over 200 research-backed nutrients, ARMRA offers an incredibly potent colostrum supplement. By incorporating bovine colostrum, we’ve noticed a difference in our energy, digestive health, and skin appearance. Win, win, win.
Does taking colostrum supplements raise ethical issues?
Evidence from clinical studies suggests that bovine colostrum products are not only well-tolerated and very nutrient-dense, but they’re also non-toxic and safe for human ingestion. However, taking this supplement does bring up an ethical debate. Does it deprive the newborn calf of the essential nutrition it needs to grow properly? This comes down to sourcing. Ultimately, this is where quality and transparency matter. ARMRA, as mentioned, is our our go-to. They use the purest colostrum from grass-fed cows—raised on family-owned U.S. dairy farms. They only collect overflow colostrum after baby calves are fed what they need.
What is a typical colostrum dosage?
If you are allergic to common allergens, like milk and soy, be sure to discuss taking bovine colostrum with your healthcare practitioner. That said, colostrum either comes in pill or powdered form. A typical dosage is about half a teaspoon (1.5 grams). In powdered form, you can put it right in your mouth or add it to a cool beverage, like water or a smoothie.
How often should you take colostrum?
You can take it daily! Until more studies are done, there is no recommended dosage or potential side effects of this supplement. With more buzz around colostrum, there will undoubtedly be more research to examine and confirm the effects of adult supplementation. If you want to start taking colostrum, choose a supplement that’s derived from grass-fed cows without artificial growth hormones.
Is bovine colostrum too far-fetched?
While colostrum is biologically necessary for newborns, new research shows the benefits of colostrum at any point in your life. Luckily, you don’t need to buy breast milk to do this. Instead, you can opt for bovine colostrum supplements. Taking colostrum may seem far-fetched, but adults have been using bovine colostrum for thousands of years—specifically, in Ayurvedic medicine. Think about it this way: bovine colostrum is simply a more nutrient-dense version of what many of us grew up drinking—cow’s milk.
Is colostrum the new collagen?
In many ways, this is comparing apples to oranges. Side by side, colostrum and collagen have no direct correlation between them. On one hand, collagen is always in your body. It’s essential for bodily functions. Colostrum, on the other hand, isn’t a necessity—other than at birth. Furthermore, while colostrum is a type of milk produced in the early stages of lactation, collagen is a structural protein found in the skin, bones, tendons, and cartilage. From a nutrition standpoint, colostrum is known to help boost immunity, whereas collagen aids in tissue, cartilage, and bone health. Same, same—but different.
7 Health Benefits of Colostrum
As you’ve gathered, colostrum—derived from a mother’s milk—is quite magical. It protects newborns and sets a strong foundation for a healthy life. At first glance, it also appears that adults can reap these same benefits. For overall health and performance, colostrum can help rebuild your immune barriers, restore your microbiome, and empower your body with the blueprint to thrive from the inside out.
1. Boosts immune function
Colostrum has high levels of immunoglobulins (antibodies) that help protect against viruses, bacteria, and other harmful pathogens. By supplementing with colostrum, women can support their immune systems, making them less susceptible to illness and infection.
2. Enhances athletic performance
Because colostrum contains a number of growth factors—including IGF-1 and TGF-beta—it can stimulate muscle growth and repair. This makes colostrum an ideal supplement for female athletes or women who are looking to improve their physical fitness.
3. Improves gut health
Colostrum is rich in lactoferrin and other bioactive compounds, helping support the growth of healthy gut bacteria. This can be particularly beneficial for women who suffer from digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bloating, or constipation.
4. Promotes skin elasticity
Speaking of those growth factors, colostrum can help stimulate the production of collagen, elastin, and other proteins that are essential for maintaining healthy skin. This can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging—making it an ideal supplement for women who are concerned about their skin health.
5. Supports bone health
Colostrum has a number of nutrients that are essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones, including calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. This makes colostrum an ideal supplement for those at risk of osteoporosis or other bone-related conditions.
6. Reduces inflammation
Colostrum is rich in cytokines, which are proteins that can help regulate inflammation in the body. By supplementing with colostrum, women can reduce inflammation throughout their bodies. This can be beneficial for a range of conditions—including arthritis, allergies, and autoimmune disorders.
7. Enhances brain function
Colostrum contains a number of peptides and other compounds that can help improve cognitive function and enhance mental clarity. This can be particularly beneficial for women who are experiencing age-related cognitive decline or who are looking to improve their focus and productivity.
Colostrum: The Takeaway
To summarize, colostrum is a nutrient-rich supplement that can provide a range of health benefits for women: boosting immune function, enhancing athletic performance, improving gut health, promoting skin health, supporting bone health, reducing inflammation, and enhancing brain function. If you’re interested in trying bovine colostrum, chat with your healthcare provider to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for your individual needs.