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 athletes who compete on the world stage.
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 are biologically transferrable for human use. The large quantity of 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, most are not able to deliver 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 more susceptible to upper respiratory issues. Additionally, the immune system slows down following intense exercise, and that’s where some athletes experience trouble until their body catches up to its normal balanced state.
Colostrum contains colostrum polypeptides (CPs), or proline-rich polypeptides; these short chains of amino acids help balance a healthy immune system. Colostrum polypeptides act as immune system modulators, and as a result, are great at helping speed up the healthy immune system recover to a state of balance, particularly when it has been overtaxed by exercise.
In addition to CPs, lactoferrin in colostrum helps promote a healthy immune system.
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 gaps in the intestinal tight junction. 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 negative elements, toxins, and undigested food particles out of the bloodstream.
If tight junctions stop working, foreign particles can enter the bloodstream.
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.
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:
- 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.
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 and if it had liposomal delivery or not. Liposomal delivery helps the precious bioactives of colostrum survive the stomach acid on its journey toward the small intestine.This article was brought to you by Sovereign Laboratories, a world leader in the development of liposomal delivery to maximize the bioavailability of our dietary supplements.