Colostrum is something that mothers are familiar with because it is the first milk produced in late pregnancy and for the first few days following birth. Colostrum provides babies the most nutrient-packed, easy-to-digest food for their first few days on earth— and this is true for all mammals. Today we explore colostrum as a supplement and how and why bovine colostrum can be one of the tools you use to improve your gut health.
What is Colostrum?
Colostrum is the first milk produced by mammals to feed their newborns. The bright yellow colostrum typically comes in just before giving birth and into the first days of the newborn’s life. Within a few days, the mammary glands then begin to produce milk. Although this is a biologically vital food for newborns due to its nutrient density and how easy it is to digest, research suggests that taking colostrum may be highly beneficial throughout your whole life 1.
The Benefits of Bovine Colostrum
Luckily, you don’t have to source breast milk from a new mother to access colostrum’s health benefits. Instead, various great bovine colostrum supplements are on the market, made from cows. Although bovine colostrum is slightly less nutrient-dense than human colostrum, it is still loaded with many of the same benefits, including lactoferrin, growth factors, and immunoglobulin antibodies (igA) 2.
The combination of these medicinal properties (especially its high Lactoferrin content) supports gut health in various ways, including healing from intestinal permeability, strengthening the gut wall, stimulating the growth of the intestinal wall, and supporting the proliferation of good bacteria 2, 3. Let’s explore how.
Lactoferrin is a prebiotic that supports and stimulates the beneficial bacteria in your gut, including lactobacillus and bifidobacterium 4. This prebiotic also promotes cell growth and healing in the gut 5.
2. Reduces inflammation
Inflammation is a chronic problem for those suffering from gut problems like IBS and Chron’s 6. One of the key ingredients in colostrum, Lactoferrin, is used as a marker to help diagnose inflammatory bowel disease when it shows up at low levels. Taking Lactoferrin supports the reduction of inflammation in the whole body by lowering the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 7.
3. Protects Tight Junctions
A leaky gut results from the “perfect storm” when our body is exposed to toxins and stress. As a result, the tight junctions that form our gut lining weaken, allowing pathogens, toxins, and whole food particles to pass the barrier in a way that triggers inflammation and food intolerances 8. Lactoferrin has been shown to bind to the kind of endotoxins that can lead to this breaking down of your gut lining 9.
4. Boosts immunity
Lactoferrin supports T-cells and boosts your white blood cell count: two of your body’s first defenses against foreign invaders 1, 10. It also contains antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties, supporting the building blocks of your immune system and directly fighting against pathogens.
How Long Does Colostrum Take to Work?
When it comes to healing the gut, studies show colostrum restores intestinal permeability (leaky gut) to normal ranges within three weeks **. Undoubtedly, you can feel the benefits very quickly. As a supplement, it can be useful to continue to heal and as a preventative tool to the inevitable exposure, our bodies experience from toxins and stress.
No matter how healthy your diet is, aspects of our modern world are beyond our control. Glyphosate, for example, is a highly toxic gut-destroying herbicide that has become so widespread in America that it is almost unavoidable. Glyphosate has been identified in tap water, in the rain, and even in traces in certified organic foods and wine because of how prevalent it is in neighboring farm run-off and our water systems**.
Colostrum is a nutrient-dense supplement with many other benefits, including muscle and injury recovery. It is the perfect supplement to preventatively bolster your resilience against environmental toxins and recovery from general life stressors, including the self-inflicted kind like exercise!
What to Look for in a Colostrum Supplement
Since mammals produce colostrum only for a very limited period of their life, it can be difficult to source it fresh. Luckily, supplement companies preserve the liquid gold and sell it. Like casein or whey, also made from cow’s milk, colostrum often comes as a powdered supplement.
When looking for a high-quality colostrum supplement, a few things to consider are:
NuMedica’s ImmunoG PRP Colostrum Powder
One of our favorite colostrum supplements is NuMedica’s ImmunoG PRP Powder, which is all-natural bovine colostrum collected within 24 hours of birthing. The formula is made to protect colostrum’s igA’s and sensitive polypeptides and is antibiotic-free. It comes in powder form (natural, vanilla, or chocolate), as well as easy on-the-go capsules and a cherry chewable. Loaded with protein, immune factors, growth factors, vitamins, and minerals— this colostrum supplement can be used as a multi-vitamin and protein supplement that tastes great.
Colostrum is the first milk produced by mammals. It is a nutrient-dense and easy-to-digest food with many health benefits when consumed throughout your life. When it comes to gut healing, colostrum can support in many ways due to ingredients like Lactoferrin. The benefits include good bacteria nourishing prebiotics, anti-inflammatory properties, protecting and healing leaky gut, and boosting overall immunity.
1 Berlutti, Francesca et al. “Antiviral properties of lactoferrin--a natural immunity molecule.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 16,8 6992-7018. 16 Aug. 2011, doi:10.3390/molecules16086992
2 Uruakpa, F.O, et al. “Colostrum and Its Benefits: A Review.” Nutrition Research, vol. 22, no. 6, 2002, pp. 755–767., doi:10.1016/s0271-5317(02)00373-1.
3 Godhia, Meena, and Neesah Patel. “Colostrum - Its Composition, Benefits as a Nutraceutical : A Review.” Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, 2013, pp. 37–47., doi:10.12944/crnfsj.1.1.04.
5 Blais, Anne et al. “Effects of lactoferrin on intestinal epithelial cell growth and differentiation: an in vivo and in vitro study.” Biometals : an international journal on the role of metal ions in biology, biochemistry, and medicine vol. 27,5 (2014): 857-74. doi:10.1007/s10534-014-9779-7
6 Boone, J H et al. “Elevated lactoferrin is associated with moderate to severe Clostridium difficile disease, stool toxin, and 027 infection.” European journal of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases : official publication of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology vol. 32,12 (2013): 1517-23. doi:10.1007/s10096-013-1905-x
7 Otsuki, K et al. “Amniotic fluid lactoferrin in intrauterine infection.” Placenta vol. 20,2-3 (1999): 175-9. doi:10.1053/plac.1998.0368
8 Hałasa, Maciej et al. “Oral Supplementation with Bovine Colostrum Decreases Intestinal Permeability and Stool Concentrations of Zonulin in Athletes.” Nutrients vol. 9,4 370. 8 Apr. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9040370
9 Awad, Wageha A et al. “Enteric Pathogens and Their Toxin-Induced Disruption of the Intestinal Barrier through Alteration of Tight Junctions in Chickens.” Toxins vol. 9,2 60. 10 Feb. 2017, doi:10.3390/toxins9020060
10 Zimecki, Michał et al. “Immunoregulatory function of lactoferrin in immunosuppressed and autoimmune animals.” Postepy higieny i medycyny doswiadczalnej (Online) vol. 61 (2007): 283-7.