Professional and amateur athletes often search for ways to improve their performance. Now, bovine colostrum offers an alternative to traditional athletic performance supplements, and it is available for athletes of all ages and skill levels – from weekend warriors to competitive professionals to Olympians.
Clinical studies have demonstrated various components included in bovine colostrum deliver a wide range of potential health benefits for athletes.
For example, a recent study of resistance training in older adults highlighted the benefits of colostrum supplementation. During the study, men and women received either bovine colostrum or whey protein complex while they participated in a resistance training program. All study participants improved upper body strength, muscle thickness, lean tissue mass, and cognitive function. However, only those who took colostrum increased their leg press strength.
In another study, a group of professional cyclists received either bovine colostrum or whey protein over an eight-week period. Ultimately, cyclists who received colostrum reported a greater improvement in their 40-km time trial. Also, the cyclists who were given colostrum reported better stamina levels and quicker recovery times than those who were given whey protein.
Bovine colostrum is an all-natural superfood whose growth factors that are biologically transferrable for human use. The large quantity of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) contained in bovine colostrum makes it an ideal supplement. IGF-1 is a type of growth hormone that promotes muscle growth and favors adipose stores over glucose as a fuel source. IGF-1 is primarily produced by the liver, and its production is stimulated by growth hormone (GH). It is naturally occurring and capable of driving muscle growth on its own.
How Does Bovine Colostrum Differ from Other Athletic Performance Supplements?
Athletic performance supplements are sometimes used in combination with a regular diet and exercise regimen. They are designed to increase energy and improve recovery. Yet these products offer no guarantees.
Although many athletic performance supplements claim to boost the immune function, none are capable of delivering the desired results. Instead, what athletes need are performance supplements that balance the immune system or return it to normal function following strenuous physical activity.
During a training regimen, athletes are in an immune-compromised state and open to harmful bacteria and viruses that may cause upper respiratory infections. Additionally, the immune system temporarily shuts down following intense exercise, and the production of T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells is suppressed at this time.
Colostrum contains natural antibodies. It also contains colostrum polypeptides (CPs), or proline-rich polypeptides; these short chains of amino acids help stimulate an underactive immune system or suppress an overactive immune system. Colostrum polypeptides help regulate the thymus gland and stimulate the production of either helper or suppressor T lymphocytes. They act as immune system modulators, and as a result, are essential to return the immune system to a state of balance, particularly when it has been overtaxed by exercise.
In addition to CPs, lactoferrin in colostrum helps destroy bacteria by removing the iron that bacteria need in order to replicate themselves.
How Does Bovine Colostrum Aid Leaky Gut?
“Leaky gut” refers to a condition that commonly affects long-distance runners and other athletes. It occurs due to an intestinal tight junction malfunction. Tight junctions serve as gateways between the intestines and the rest of the body. They control what substances are allowed to pass into the bloodstream. Tight junctions help keep microbes, toxins, and undigested food particles out of the bloodstream.
If tight junctions stop working, foreign particles can enter the bloodstream. When this happens, inflammation occurs, opening the body up to a number of autoimmune conditions, including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes. This occurs because the immune system goes in to overdrive and attacks healthy cells (i.e., lung tissue, joints, and insulin-producing cells in the pancreas), not just the foreign particles.
The physiological response to increased gut permeability is to get rid of the gut contents. This usually leads to diarrhea, which diminishes athletic performance. One study showed runners could experience a 2.5-fold increase in gut leakage in conjunction with a two-degree body temperature increase. Comparatively, runners in the study who received daily bovine colostrum supplementation for two weeks saw gut leakage decrease by 80%, despite the same temperature increase. Regular supplementation helps protect and heal the gastrointestinal (GI) and stomach lining. It contains growth factors that help “seal” the gut and prevent heat stroke.
Does Bovine Colostrum Support Wound Healing?
Athletic injuries can affect the bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and other tissues. Regardless of where these injuries occur, colostrum contains growth factors and cytokines that have been shown to help accelerate the healing process.
Growth factors are among the most important molecular families involved in the healing of injuries. They are also essential to building lean muscle mass. Colostrum contains a variety of growth factors that support wound healing and increased muscle mass, such as:
- Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1): Helps improve muscle regeneration in injured muscles, promotes tendon healing, and supports the proliferation and migration of fibroblasts, resulting in increased collagen production to aid muscle healing and regeneration.
- Transforming Growth Factors A and B (TGFa and TGFb): Help regulate cellular migration and proliferation.
- Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF): Helps stimulate angiogenesis and regulation of cellular migration and proliferation.
Furthermore, cytokines have been shown to help speed up tendon repair. These small, secreted proteins are released by cells and have been used in clinical trials for the treatment of assorted tissue injuries and wounds. Several researchers have indicated cytokines may provide a new, non-opioid therapeutic treatment for pathological pain related to nerve injury.
The Bottom Line on Bovine Colostrum for Athletes
Athletes tend to search for performance-enhancing supplements that are safe, legal, and deliver the best-possible results. As informed consumers, athletes should review each product closely in addition to doing their homework. The first step is understanding colostrum’s overall benefits for athletes. Do a PubMed search on “bovine colostrum” and “athletic performance.” Clinical studies highlight the potential performance and health benefits. It’s important to note that not all studies have shown positive results, and this is likely due to the particular brand of colostrum used.
For athletes who would like to learn more about bovine colostrum supplementation, Sovereign Laboratories can help. We’ve been in the colostrum business for more than 25 years – so you could say we know a thing or two. Our signature product, is Colostrum-LD®, a bovine colostrum product that contains maximal quantities of growth factors, PRPs, immunoglobulins, and lactoferrin. Colostrum-LD® is sold in both capsule and powder forms and utilizes a proprietary LD Liposomal Delivery™ system for improved bioavailability. It is also suitable for people who maintain lactose-free diets.Sovereign Laboratories, a world leader in the development of liposomal delivery to maximize the bioavailability of our dietary supplements.