Bovine colostrum has become an increasingly popular supplement that helps support muscle strength and stamina while promoting your digestive and immune health. These potential benefits are enticing, but colostrum does take time to be effective depending upon the results you’re aiming for. Let’s take a closer look at colostrum and how long it may take to work.
What is Colostrum?
Colostrum is the milk-like fluid secreted by cows, humans, and all other mammals in late pregnancy and the first few days after giving birth, prior to the appearance of true milk. As newborns of all mammalian species have immature, undeveloped immune and digestive systems, colostrum provides a diverse range of enzymes, antibodies, and growths factors, along with a healthy serving of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, all designed to help the baby’s growth and stimulate development of the immune system.
Bovine colostrum is a perfectly safe supplement with no known drug interactions or side effects. Lactose-reduced colostrum with added lactase only contains a small amount of lactose, so it is generally safe for those who are lactose sensitive. However, it may pose a problem to those who are allergic to casein, the main protein in milk. Anyone who has ever had an anaphylactic reaction to dairy should not consume colostrum.
What Can Colostrum Do for You?
While colostrum was intended for newborns, research suggests that it can impart a wide variety of potential benefits to adult humans as well, thanks to its robust nutrient profile.
Balances the Immune System
Colostrum contains high levels of antibodies that are designed to help your body fight bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing agents. Research suggests that colostrum’s antibody levels are 100 times higher than in regular cow’s milk. These high antibody levels can help to balance your immune system and protect your gastrointestinal tract against potential gut-based infections, including both enteropathic and enterotoxic bacteria (E. coli, rotavirus, Cryptosporidium parvum, Shigella flexneri). Studies show that many of colostrum’s antibodies and immunoglobulins stay in the GI tract, which potentially allows them to attack and neutralize bacteria before they can ever enter your bloodstream.
Heals the Gut
Your digestive system is integral to your health, breaking down the foods you eat and absorbing their vitamins and nutrients. A healthy gut can determine your overall health and wellbeing, but certain foods, stress, and environmental factors can harm your gut. Colostrum can help to heal your gut by increasing the surface area of your intestinal lining, which can improve the overall absorption of nutrients.
Colostrum can also help address leaky gut, which is characterized by small holes or openings between the tight junctions in the gut lining; these openings allow undigested food proteins, bacteria, and harmful toxins to easily slip through and enter the bloodstream. This can lead to inflammation and imbalances in your gut flora, which contribute to general digestive health issues. Colostrum may help to restore normal permeability levels thanks in part to its variety of hormones and growth factors that help repair damage to the intestinal lining and maintain tight-junction integrity. Rich in immunoglobulins and other natural antibodies, colostrum supplementation can help improve the microbiome – the ecosystem of bacteria, viruses, and fungi – that lives within the gut.
Colostrum may also encourage the growth of friendly bacteria (probiotics) in the gut. These bacteria can help with food digestion, production of certain vitamins, and regulation of “bad” bacteria in the GI tract. The growth factors in colostrum may help probiotics flourish and recolonize your gut; as such, colostrum is considered a prebiotic.
Supports Strength and Endurance
Whey protein is a popular athletic supplement for its ability to build muscle tissue and improve endurance, but studies suggest that colostrum’s growth factors may work even better. Colostrum contains a high percentage of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). This growth hormone can help to promote muscle growth and prioritize adipose tissue (fat) over glucose as a source of fuel. Regular colostrum supplementation can help to reduce damage from oxidation and free radicals during exercise, which can help improve the status of your bones, joints, and muscles after a workout.
Colostrum’s Effects on the Whole Body
Studies on colostrum suggest that its unique combination of vitamins, nutrients, antibodies, and other bioactives which affect nearly every part of the human body.
Colostrum is most prominently known for its influence on gut health. Colostrum may:
- Help reduce symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Encourage the colonization of beneficial bacteria in the bowel
- Balance the gut microbiome, preventing bacteria from attaching to the intestinal walls
- Support the repair and regeneration of tissues of the intestinal wall at the cellular level
- Promote a healthy acidity level in the colon and reduce the growth of pathogenic bacteria
Colostrum may also improve skin to provide a healthy barrier and a clean, clear complexion.
- Reduces the appearance of acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis
- Contains epithelial/epidermal growth factors (EGF), known for supporting cell repair and regeneration
- Contains fibroblast growth factor (FGF), known to promote wound healing
- Contains a high concentration of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which helps speed up wound recovery
Colostrum may also support your joint health, ensuring that your movement, posture, and general body mechanics are in working order. Colostrum may reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia, headaches, and rheumatoid arthritis. It may also stimulate the production of collagen, a protein that acts as a cushion for joints. Colostrum also contains:
- The LMW (low molecular weight)peptide that may help reduce joint inflammation
- Growth factors that may support regeneration and repair of bone and cartilage tissue
- Transfer factors that may reduce joint damage, pain, and stiffness
Studies on colostrum’s effects on brain health, cognition, and mental and emotional health are ongoing, but they show promise.
- Reduces symptoms related to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression.
- Supports serotonin synthesis, inhibit age-related depression, and balance blood glucose in the brain
- Contains colostrinin (low molecular weight colostrum polypeptides), which may help support healthy mental functioning in patients with mild to moderate neurodegenerative conditions
The adrenal glands are responsible for producing a wide range of essential hormones.
- Helps reduce symptoms of leaky gut, a significant contributing factor in cases of chronic fatigue
- Contains lactoferrin, a compound that may help iron levels and reduce fatigue
- Contains colostrum polypeptides that support the body’s natural immune response
Sinus and Mouth
- Reduces the length and severity of colds, influenza, and food sensitivities
- Contains lactoferrin, which helps the body fight off bacteria that could contribute to sinus infections
- Supports natural immunities against the flu virus and other pathogens
- Balances the oral microbiome and remediate sinus issues
Colostrum may support healthy thyroid function. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), thyroxine, and calcitonin in colostrum have been shown to aid in thyroid management. Colostrum also contains growth factors that are known to promote safe, effective management of autoimmune thyroid disorders.
As mentioned, colostrum contains growth hormone and IGF-1, which may help to increase strength and lean muscle mass with regular exercise. In athletes, these growth factors may also contribute to greater muscle tone and reduced body fat while supporting muscle recovery.
Colostrum’s growth factors may also support bone repair and regeneration, while transforming growth factor may help cells build stronger bones. Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite and DHEA in colostrum may help increase bone density.
IGF-1 is necessary to generate new cells, while a combination of immune and growth factors help to balance cellular growth. Lactoferrin helps to control levels of free iron in the blood and maintain the health of red blood cells.
Why Colostrum is Ideal for Adults
For all of the above reasons, colostrum makes for a potentially beneficial supplement for people of all ages. However, colostrum may be even more ideal for adults and older individuals. Following puberty, your body naturally produces fewer growth hormones. As you age, these hormone levels continue to decline until about age 80 when your growth hormone production is almost non-existent. Growth hormones play a key role in development and healing of most of the cells and tissues found in the human body.
Incorporating colostrum can help to reintroduce these growth hormones and maintain healthy levels. This can contribute to normal healing of tissue while combating the negative effects of aging.
Potential Side Effects of Colostrum
Colostrum is a natural substance that has been studied for its general safe use and low risk of side effects. It has GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status. However, some people may experience an immune response known as the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction when they first take colostrum. This reaction is common with antibiotics and occurs when harmful microorganisms in your body release endotoxin-like substances into your body as they die. Symptoms can include:
- Digestive problems
- Skin rashes
- Flu-like symptoms
These symptoms generally subside and go away within a few days. If these symptoms become too uncomfortable, you can stop your colostrum intake for a few days before resuming with a lower dosage.
How to Take Colostrum
Our Colostrum-LD® supplement is available in the form of powder and capsules. The serving size for colostrum supplements can vary from person to person, but generally for healthy individuals who want to support their immune system and reduce symptoms of leaky gut, one teaspoon of our powder or two of our capsules twice a day can replenish immune and growth factors missing in your diet. If you are recovering from an injury, suffering from digestive issues, an autoimmune disorder, inflammatory condition, or other forms of compromised health, consider taking 2 teaspoons of powder or four capsules twice a day. For athletes, about 10 to 20 grams each day (roughly one and a half tablespoons of Colostrum-LD® powder twice a day) can promote growth hormone levels in your system.
Some researchers believe that it is better to take a lower amount of colostrum when you start and gradually increase the amount as your body gets used to it. Others suggest that you should front-load your colostrum intake by taking a higher amount at first before reducing to a normal serving. Thankfully, colostrum has no known toxicity level, but you should speak with your doctor to determine the best course for your specific needs.
Colostrum generally works best when taken on an empty stomach with 6 to 8 ounces of room-temperature water. The liposomal delivery in Colostrum-LD® helps the bioactives reach the small intestine intact for maximum absorption into the bloodstream. Powdered colostrum can begin working in the mouth and continue its action down the entire G.I. tract. Capsules may be more convenient if you are traveling and unable to mix the powdered version; the downside is that capsules won’t benefit the upper G.I. tract, as they are enclosed/encapsulated until reaching the small intestine. In either case, wait at least 20 minutes before you eat.
How long does colostrum take to work? Ultimately, colostrum is a food, and much like any other dietary supplement, the length of time it takes to see improvements can vary from person to person, based on a wide range of factors. Someone who is quite sensitive and aware of his/her body may feel benefits rather quickly – in a couple of days. On average, most people feel some improvement within four to six weeks. Colostrum works best when an overall healthy lifestyle is embraced. Poor lifestyle choices may compromise results. For the best results and ongoing health benefits, colostrum should be taken every day.Sovereign Laboratories, a world leader in the development of liposomal delivery to maximize the bioavailability of our dietary supplements.