There’s no denying that collagen has been riding a wave of popularity over the last few years, but a new supplement that’s hit the wellness scene is giving it a run for its money. Cue the drum roll, please… Introducing colostrumthe superfood that protects and strengthens your body’s defenses, guarding against infections, inflammation, everyday toxins, allergens, and processed ingredients (sounds pretty magical, if you ask me).
While you may know of colostrum in the context of the nourishment given to newborns by their mothers, we’re honing in on the bovine variety that delivers benefits adults can get in on—from improving gut health to enhancing athletic performance (stay tuned for more health perks). Read on to find out what doctors and dietitians have to say about what colostrum is, its benefits, and how often it should be taken to get the most out of it.
What is Colostrum?
Often referred to as “liquid gold” for its health benefits and nutritional value, “colostrum is a natural superfood produced by all mammals in the first 48-72 hours after giving birth,” explained Dr. Sarah Rahal, MD, a board-certified neurologist and the CEO and Founder of ARMY. “It’s the first nutrition we receive in life and contains 200+ essential nutrients, like antibodies, prebiotics, peptides, amino acids, minerals, antioxidants, and other natural immune factors, that our bodies need to thrive and work synergistically to enhance all facets of health. For 300 million years, colostrum has served the vital function of protecting and strengthening the mucosal barriers—a barrier of protection lining your mouth, sinuses, lungs, and gut—by creating a tight seal around them, blocking modern-day threats like air pollutants, agricultural pesticides, and chemicals in our food, water, home, body products, medications, and processed food ingredients.”
So what’s the difference between human and bovine colostrum? Dr. Rahal explained that human and bovine colostrum (which, FYI, usually come from cows) are highly similar in terms of their bioactive components. Translation: They’re both packed with vitaminsminerals, carbohydrates, disease-fighting proteins, growth hormones, and digestive enzymes that give our bodies a boost in preventing disease. However, because of the differences in physiology between the species, there are key differences in the relative amounts/concentrations of nutrients. “For example, there are different ratios of prebiotics, which serve to optimize the growth of different species’ microbiomes, in human versus bovine colostrum,” Dr. Rahal conveyed.
In supplement form, bovine colostrum is pasteurized and dried into capsules or powders that can be mixed with liquids, such as coffee or smoothies. And research shows that taking bovine colostrum supplements may promote immunity, help fight infections, and improve gut health throughout life, according to Healthline.
What Are the Benefits?
Cold and flu season or not, reducing your chances of coming down with the sniffles or a virus is a win. Enter: colostrum. “Colostrum works by strengthening the immune barriers along the entire inside surface of the body, our first line of defense against everything inhaled and ingested from the outside world,” Dr. Rahal explained. “This creates a tight seal that guards against the everyday environmental toxins and pollutants that can threaten health and drive inflammation, the underlying root of almost all modern diseases.”
Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD, a nutritionist and ACE-certified trainer, also revealed that colostrum contains high levels of antibodies, immunoglobulins, and other immune-enhancing substances that can help fight off infections and reduce the severity of allergies.
Fortifies gut health
Real talk: Digestive discomfort is all-too-common (looking at you, belly bloat) and can be a real party pooper (pun intended). The good news? Colostrum could be the answer to a happy gut. “Colostrum contains growth factors and bioactive compounds that can promote the growth and repair of the intestinal lining,” Sabat stated. But the gut goodness doesn’t stop there. Katherine Gomez, a registered dietitian, cited that colostrum may encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria, enhance gut barrier function, and aid digestion and nutrient absorption.
Fuels athletic performance
Could colostrum be the new pre-workout to give you an edge in your workouts? “Some studies suggest that colostrum supplementation in adult athletes may enhance exercise performance, increase lean muscle mass, and support post-exercise recovery,” Sabat affirmed. “It contains factors like growth factors, amino acids, and cytokines that may contribute to these effects.” Consider the 25-7-2 StairMaster Workout crushed.
If the Hailey Bieber glow is something you’re after (who isn’t?), colostrum may be the beauty holy grail. “Colostrum includes a variety of antioxidants and growth factors that may have anti-aging properties that could help minimize oxidative stress and enhance tissue repair and regeneration,” Gomez noted. Hello, radiance and skin plumpness. Goodbye, fine lines and wrinkles.
PSA: Chronic inflammation is the invisible culprit of many health woes (think: diseases, gastrointestinal issues, depression, and anxiety). The silver lining is that colostrum is particularly high in lactoferrinAKA a powerful inflammation moderator that rises in our bodies during times of increased inflammation. “Colostrum contains anti-inflammatory substances, including cytokines and growth factors, which may help reduce inflammation in the body,” Sabat echoed. “This could potentially benefit adults with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease.”
What Dosage Is Right For Me?
As with most (if not all) supplements, the recommended dosage and frequency of colostrum intake for adults can vary depending on factors such as the specific product, individual needs, and health goals, Sabat voiced. “The dosage recommendations may range from a few grams to several grams per day,” she continued. “It’s important to start with the lower end of the dosage range and gradually increase as needed. Some individuals may benefit from taking colostrum daily, while others may find periodic use or cycling more appropriate.” For that reason, consult your doctor on the best course of action for you.
The main takeaway? Because colostrum supplements can differ in composition and quality, look for reputable brands that source colostrum from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows or other mammals that are free from antibiotics and artificial growth hormones.
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