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 other mammals in late pregnancy and the first few days after giving birth, prior to the appearance of true milk. As newborns of all species have immature, undeveloped immune and digestive systems, colostrum offers 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. 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.
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 modulate 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 immunoglobins 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 combat leaky gut, which is characterized by holes or openings in the gut lining that food, bacteria, and harmful toxins can easily slip through. 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. Colostrum’s high immunoglobulin content and other natural antibodies 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.
Improves Strength and Endurance
Whey protein is a popular supplement with athletes 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 factors (IGF-1). These growth hormones 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.
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. After age 20, these levels begin their rapid decline. If you are recovering from an injury, suffering from digestive issues, an autoimmune disorder, inflammatory condition, or other forms of compromised health, you should take 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 frontload 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.
You may experience an immune response known as the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction when you 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 should 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.
Colostrum generally works best when taken on an empty stomach with 6 to 8 ounces of 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.
So 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.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.