What Is in Bovine Colostrum and Why Should You Care?

Sovereign Laboratories has always believed that colostrum is the SUM of its parts, and the more than 200 bioactive components identified to date are vital to its action in the body. Researchers once believed that immunoglobulins were the most important components, primarily because these were one of the first type of component that they were able to identify and measure in colostrum samples. Farmers probably understood the benefits of immunoglobulins well before the scientists; they knew that if their newborn calves did not receive colostrum from their mothers, they would die of infectious causes shortly after birth. Colostrum’s immunoglobulins, whether from human mothers or dairy cows, are excellent for remediating gut-based infections, and the scientific literature has well documented this. But we now know that colostrum provides more extensive protection than just neutralizing deadly intestinal pathogens.

In its natural state, colostrum (straight from mom or from a cow) contains a plethora of immune and growth factors which heal and prevent leaky gut (excessive intestinal permeability). A permeable gut lining allows toxins, pathogens, undigested food, heavy metals and fecal material to cross into the bloodstream. The liver does its best to detox the body but can become  overwhelmed, and this internal toxicity and corresponding inflammation within the body is the primary cause of most chronic conditions. If the entry points can be healed – if a leaky gut can be healed – then chronic and autoimmune conditions can be halted, reversed, or prevented.

All of colostrum’s healing components are present in a state of natural balance and are not found in any other foods, except in small quantities in raw fresh milk. Colostrum is often referred to as “life’s first food” and past the time that one is breastfed, the human body begins to suffer from the lack of immune and growth factors in the daily diet. Because the components in bovine colostrum are nearly bioidentical to those found in human colostrum, bovine colostrum supplements are vital to human health and successful aging.

Sovereign Laboratories recognizes that a colostrum supplement is valuable only if the components are present and bioavailable. With more than two decades in the business of supplement manufacturing, Sovereign Laboratories has created a superior product --  Colostrum-LD® -- which is as close to raw, fresh colostrum as is currently possible to manufacture. And unlike raw fresh milk with its 1.5% immune and growth factors, Colostrum-LD® contains 100% of these components. What makes Colostrum-LD® so unique is that every batch is tested and verified to contain maximum quantities of the components believed to be most beneficial in human health. Unlike other manufacturers who use heat processing methods, Sovereign Laboratories utilizes a cool processing technique which preserves the bioactives better. Sovereign Laboratories goes one further step and applies a phospholipid coating to the colostrum particles; this  liposomal delivery method ensures that the immune and growth factors will survive the harsh passage through the acidic stomach environment and make it into the small intestines where they can be absorbed through the bowel wall and travel to the cells that need their healing action.

Major Bioactives in Bovine Colostrum & Their Physiological Benefits

Colostrum is commonly referred to as the " first food of life." It comes from a mammalian mother's breast and is produced late in pregnancy and immediately after birth. Colostrum contains  powerful components such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, and its purpose is to support newborn growth and development. 

 Although colostrum is intended for newborns, bovine colostrum may be taken by adults of all ages, children, and even pets. Colostrum has been shown to promote a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Additionally, colostrum helps heal leaky gut, a leading cause of autoimmune and chronic conditions.

 Bovine colostrum supplementation helps people enjoy the benefits of colostrum's nutritional components, regardless of age. In fact,  Colostrum-LD® from Sovereign Laboratories contains a wide range of bioactives to promote optimal gut and immune health. To better understand the effectiveness of Colostrum-LD®, let's examine these bioactives in detail.  


Ensuring the immune system maintains the proper balance is key — without effective immune modulation, the body may be susceptible to bacteria, viruses, and other harmful pathogens that cause disease. Colostrum contains immune-modulating bioactives that help the immune system perform to the best of its ability. These bioactives deliver a number of benefits, and ultimately, help keep the immune system healthy. 

Immunoglobulins – proteins that bind to disease-causing pathogens on the mucosal surfaces of the GI tract, thereby preventing them from colonizing and causing infection. Immunoglobulins function as antibodies, and this modulation by the immune system creates passive immunity for the patient/recipient.

  • IgA (serum IgA) – similar to sIgA (secretory IgA), but in monomeric form. This immunoglobulin is responsible for humoral immunity of mucosal surfaces.
  • IgD – acts as antigen receptors on the surfaces of B lymphocytes. IgD is highly antiviral.
  • IgG – is the most abundant immunoglobulin in bovine colostrum. IgG protects against circulating bacteria and viruses, neutralizes bacterial toxins, triggers the complement system, and bind to antigens, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of phagocytic cells.

Lactoferrin (Lactotransferrin) – an iron-binding protein with non-specific bactericidal properties. Lactoferrin serves as an essential growth factor for lymphocytes; stimulates activity of polymorphonuclear leukocytes; augments natural killer (NK) cell and lymphokine-activated killer cell cytotoxic activity; acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory bioactive; stimulates production of IL-18; inhibits tryptase; prevents cancer in animal models;  decreases severity and longitudinal prevalence of diarrhea in children; inhibits intestinal damage from Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli; and shows promise for osteoarthritis treatment. As a glycoprotein, lactoferrin competes with pathogens for binding sites on the intestinal wall or binds directly to pathogens.

Lysozyme – a potent antimicrobial enzyme that catalyzes the destruction of the bacteria cell wall; it often works in tandem with lactoferrin to kill bacteria and other microorganisms.

Lactoperoxidase – a peroxidase enzyme which combines with thiocyanate and hydrogen peroxide to form a potent antibacterial agent; it is secreted from mammary, salivary, and other mucosal glands.

Proline-Rich Polypeptides (PRPs) – these are short chain, low-molecular weight peptides that contain a high concentration of the amino acid proline. They are also called: info-peptides, info-proteins, cytokine precursors, colostrinin and, or immune-modulators. PRPs support the regulation of the thymus, the gland responsible for the normal development of immunologic function in the body. PRPs are richly varied immune and inflammatory modulators and act as signaling molecules; induce white blood cell proliferation and the production of a number of cytokines. PRPs modulate the cytokine system by stimulating the production of a wide range of cytokines, including the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), which initiates the inflammatory cascade of cytokine production, and interferon-gamma (INF-γ), and the anti-inflammatory cytokines interleukins-6 and -10 (IL-6 and IL-10). 

Some PRPs act against pathogens by modulating the immune system to rally a defense against an infection, especially gut-based infections that cause massive diarrhea. PRPs increase the immune system’s activity when it’s necessary to fight off an infection; block reproduction of pathogens; increase natural killer cell activity; and activate macrophages and T-cells. Other PRPs quell the immune system’s activity to prevent tissue damage once the infection has been attenuated. The application of PRPs is immunotherapy, anti-viral, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, and restoration of normal cell function.

Protease inhibitors – help colostrum bioactives survive digestion by inhibiting digestive enzymes; enhance absorption of vital nutrients.

Casein peptides

  • κ-caseino glycomacropeptide – a peptide from the casein fraction of milk which interferes with the binding of viruses and bacteria in the intestine, binds cholera and E. coli endotoxins, promotes the growth of helpful bacteria in the gut, helps modulate the immune system and helps prevent the formation of arterial thrombi (clots), a leading cause of heart attack and stroke.

  • κ-caseinoglycopeptide – a peptide produced by digestion of kappa-casein, found in both bovine and human colostrum and milk, which is absorbed into the blood serum and which has antithrombic properties, preventing platelet aggregation.

Hemopexin – a transporter and binder of free heme molecules in body.  Has antioxidant function by preventing participation of heme in oxygen radical reactions in tissues.  Also plays a key role in the homeostasis of nitric oxide.  Known to suppress tumor growth.  It may also have an anti-inflammatory effect by suppressing neutrophil accumulation and phagocytosis and by inhibiting the Mg++ dependent adhesion of polymorphonuclear leukocytes.

Haptoglobin – a protein binder of free hemoglobin.  Binding of haptoglobin to free hemoglobin prevents hemoglobin-induced oxidative tissue damage, so haptoglobin effectively acts as an antioxidant.  Increased levels in acute phase inflammation apparently act to selectively antagonize lipopolysaccharide (LPS) inflammatory effects by suppressing monocyte production of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-10 and IL-12 while it does not inhibit anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-6, IL-8 and IL-1 receptor antagonist.

Complement (C3) – components of the innate immune system that act to amplify the response and activation of the cell-killing membrane attack complex that attacks pathogens.

Oligosaccharides – provide protection from pathogens by competing for binding sites on intestinal lining.  Also support growth of beneficial gut bacteria.


  • Apelin – found in bovine colostrum, is endogenous ligand of human orphan APJ receptor; stimulates proliferation of gastric cells; inhibits entry of HIV into the cells.  Function in human colostrum is probably to modulate immune response in neonates.

Cytokines – hormone-like, low molecular weight proteins which regulate the intensity and duration of the immune response and mediate cell-to-cell communication.

  • Interferons (IFNs)– signaling proteins produced and released by host cells in response to the presence of pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, or tumor cells. An infected cell will release interferons, causing nearby cells to heighten their anti-pathogenic defenses. Interferons also activate natural killer cells and macrophages; increase host defenses by up-regulating antigen presentation by increasing the expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens.

  • Lymphokines - a subset of cytokines that are produced by lymphocytes. They are protein mediators typically produced by T cells to direct the immune system response by signaling between its cells.           

  • Interleukins - a group of cytokines expressed by leukocytes.

  • Interferon-γ – highly immunoregulatory and pro-inflammatory, antiviral.

 Tumor necrosis factor-α family

  • TNF- α – cytotoxic for many tumor cell types, increases fever and septic shock, main pro-inflammatory regulator.

  • Osteopontin (bone sialoprotein, Eta-1 (early T-lymphocyte activation 1)) – secreted by epithelial cells, associated with bone mineralization.

  • Osteoprotegerin – inhibits osteoclast (“bone-eating”) differentiation, preventing   bone destruction.


  • Peroxidase – an enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of various substances by peroxides.

  • Superoxide dismutase – an enzyme with powerful anti-inflammatory activity.

  • Telomerase – an enzyme that adds DNA sequence repeats to the end of DNA strands in chromosomes to prevent loss of important DNA sequences during replication. Telomere length determines the number of times a cell can divide without error, and plays a significant role in colostrum’s anti-aging benefit.


Growth-modulating factors are naturally occurring substances that promote cellular activity. They help cells heal and grow, as well as serve as signaling molecules between cells. Research indicates that growth-modulating factors in colostrum may help treat GI conditions, too. 

Growth Factors – growth factors play an important role in maintaining the body, including repair of leaky gut epithelia, bone remodeling and maintenance, fracture repair, wound healing, stimulating cellular migration and proliferation, increased collagen production, and blood vessel growth in damaged areas.

  • Colony-stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1) – stimulate the production of mature blood cells and macrophages from stem cells.

  • Epithelial/Epidermal growth factor (EGF) – helps to promote wound healing by stimulating cell proliferation in wound.

  • Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) – helps to promote wound healing by stimulating cell proliferation in the wound, helps maintain normal bone and repair fractures.

  • Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) – helps to promote wound healing by stimulating cell proliferation in the wound. Enhances bone healing in the elderly. Decreases in amounts in the body with age.

  • Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) – the major IGFBP in cows, binds both IGF and lactoferrin.  With lactoferrin, can enter nucleus of cells and affects apoptotic (programmed cell death) signaling. 

  • Macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF) – increases growth, differentiation and activation of macrophages (phagocytic scavenger cells of blood and connective tissues).  Part of CSF family of growth factors.

  • Transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-a) - induces epithelial development, stimulates neural cell proliferation in adult injured brain.,

  • Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-β1) – increases IgA production and activation of naïve T cells, decreases activation of monocytes and memory T cells, promotes fibroblast growth and wound healing.  Vital factor in skeletal growth, bone mass maintenance and fracture healing.

  • Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) – plays a role in bone metabolism as a mitogen (cell division stimulant) for osteoblasts (bone forming cells).  It also stimulates fibroblasts to divide.

  • Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) – plays a role in healing of injuries, such as tendon and ligament injuries, by providing blood supply to damaged areas.


Hormones act as chemical messengers within the body. They travel in the bloodstream and help support tissue and organ activity, enabling the body to perform processes responsible for mood, reproduction, metabolism, and other functions. Colostrum helps the body maintain the right balance of hormones. Because if a person lacks the optimal balance of hormones, he or she risks diabetes, weight loss or gain, and other health problems. 

  • Leptin – secreted by fat tissue, acts to curb appetite and increase energy expenditure as body fat stores increase.

  • Procalcitonin/Calcitonin – produced by parathyroid, thyroid and thymus glands, increases deposition of calcium and phosphate in bone and lowers levels in blood.

  • Insulin – from islets of Langerhans in pancreas, promotes glucose utilization, protein synthesis, fat storage.

  • Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) (thyroliberin)–hypothalamic hormone which stimulates the release of thyrotropin, a hormone which stimulates the growth and development of the thyroid.

  • Growth hormone (somatotropin) – pituitary hormone which promotes body growth, fat mobilization, and inhibition of glucose utilization.


Micronutrients include vitamins and nutrients that the body needs to perform. The body cannot produce micronutrients on its own; instead, people must obtain micronutrients from food. Colostrum contains various micronutrients that may help improve the immune function. 


Antioxidants help the body combat free radicals, unstable atoms that cause cell damage and increase a person's risk of illness. They are found in the body, as well as fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods. Additionally, several types of vitamins serve as antioxidants; these include vitamins C and E. 

  • Glutathione (GSH) and precursors – this peptide is a significant antioxidant, sometimes described as “the ultimate antioxidant”. It also has potent anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It helps protect the overall integrity of all cells and tissue against free radical and disease damage. Colostrum contains high quantities of both glutathione and its precursors.

Amino Acids – the building blocks of proteins. Colostrum contains nine essential amino acids and nine non-essential amino acids. While amino acid supplementation is popular, especially among athletes, most claims, such as muscle building, are unsubstantiated; excess amino acids can interfere with the action of prescription drugs or hormones or worsen preexisting diseases

  • Essential Amino Acids- Amino acids refer to compounds that can be combined to create proteins. Comparatively, essential amino acids are amino acids that the body cannot create on its own. There are nine essential amino acids, and each comes from food. 

  • Isoleucine – branched chain amino acid used in body building. Hemodialysis patients often have low plasma levels of isoleucine and require supplementation.

  • Leucine – reduces protein breakdown and increases skeletal muscle protein synthesis. Required for a healthy immune system. Used to treat hepatic encephalopathy.

  • Histidine – causes secretion and elimination of zinc to increase, suppresses food intake and fat accumulation in rats, essential to normal sexual functioning, may relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, used to make histamine. Controls diarrhea, increases calcium and zinc absorption. Scavenges reactive oxygen species and inhibits lipid peroxidation. Deficiencies in childhood can result in growth and mental retardation and impaired speech.

  • Methionine – can help in some cases of schizophrenia by lowering blood level of histamine. Deficiency can result in edema and susceptibility to infection, as well as cholesterol deposits, atherosclerosis and hair loss.

  • Lysine – required for growth, tissue repair and the production of antibodies, hormones and enzymes. Promotes concentration and proper use of fatty acids for energy.

  • Threonine – excessive threonine can cause formation of too much urea and consequent ammonia toxicity. Requires Vitamin B6, magnesium and niacin to be used properly in the body. Both serine and glycine may be synthesized from it.

  • Phenylalanine – functions as a neurotransmitter.

  • Valine – a branched chain amino acid that promotes mental vigor, muscle coordination and emotional calm. Helps prevent nervous and digestive disorders. Taken with leucine, decreases risk of side effects for muscle building.

  • Tryptophan – used by the brain along with Vitamin B6, niacin and magnesium to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Acts as an antidepressant reducing anxiety and tension.


Phospholipids – a class of lipids that are a major component of all animal cell membranes. Naturally occurring in fresh, raw colostrum; when processed, the phospholipids are lost. When phospholipids are re-applied, cellular bio-availability is increased significantly.

  • Phosphatidylserine – plays a key role in cell cycle signaling, specifically in relationship to apoptosis; can cross the blood-brain barrier. Preliminary research shows that it reduces the risk of dementia and cognitive dysfunction in the elderly.

  • Phosphatidylcholine (lecithin)– also a major constituent of pulmonary surfactant. Plays a role in membrane-mediated cell signaling. Can be readily obtained from egg yolk, soybeans, and sunflowers.

  • Phosphatidylinositol – a minor component of the cell membranes; especially abundant in brain tissue, where it can amount to 10% of the phospholipids

  • Phosphatidylethanolamine – abundant in white matter of brain, nerves, neural tissue, and in spinal cord, where they make up 45% of all phospholipids.

  • Sphingomyelin – a type of sphingolipid found particularly in the membranous myelin sheath surrounding some nerve cell axons.

This is just a sampling of the major components identified in bovine colostrum. If you want to  enjoy the health benefits of colostrum, Sovereign Laboratories is the leader in bovine colostrum supplements for human consumption. Sovereign Laboratories’ signature product, Colostrum-LD®, is available to consumers in the United States and can be shipped to many other countries around the world. To learn more about Colostrum-LD® and its benefits,  please read our blog.


  1. Ganz S, Bülte M, Gajewski Z, Wehrend A. [Substances in the bovine colostrum - a survey] Tierarztl Prax Ausg G Grosstiere Nutztiere. 2018 Jun;46(3):178-189.

  2. Gonzalez DD, Dus Santos MJ. Bovine colostral cells-the often forgotten component of colostrum. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2017 May 1;250(9):998-1005.

  3. Korhonen HJ. Production and properties of health-promoting proteins and peptides from bovine colostrum and milk. Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 2013 Nov 3;59(1):12-24.

  4. McGrath BA, Fox PF, McSweeney PLH, Kelly AL. Composition and properties of bovine colostrum: a review. Dairy Sci. & Technol. 2016;96:133–158.

  5. Ai Z, Yumei Z, Titi Y, Qinghai S, Xiaohong K, Peiyu W. The concentrations of some hormones and growth factors in bovine and human colostrums: Short communication. Int J Dairy Technol. 2012;65(4):507-510.

  6. Stelwagen K, Carpenter E, Haigh B, Hodgkinson A, Wheeler TT. Immune components of bovine colostrum and milk. J Anim Sci. 2009 Apr;87(13 Suppl):3-9.

  7. Keech, AM. Peptide Immunotherapy: Colostrum – A Physician’s Reference Guide. AKS Publishing, 2009.

  8. Przybylska J, Albera E, Kankofer M. Antioxidants in Bovine Colostrum. Reprod Domest Anim. 2007 Aug;42(4):402-9.

  9. Pinotti L, Rosi F. Leptin in bovine colostrum and milk. Horm Metab Res. 2006 Feb;38(2):89-93.

  10. Gopal PK, Gill HS. Oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates in bovine milk and colostrum. Br J Nutr. 2000 Nov;84 Suppl 1:S69-74.

  11. https://www.sovereignlaboratories.com/what-is-colostrum.html

  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6340979/ 

  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC538513/

  14. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/growth-factors 

  15. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/72/1/5/4729337

  16. https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones

  17. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/micronutrients#definition

  18. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/antioxidants-explained#what-they-are