Colostrum is the first milk-like proteinaceous fluid that comes out of the breast of mammals including humans. Such secretion starts taking place just after the birth of the offspring and the synthesis of this elixir begins in the late months of pregnancy which continues up to the first few days after parturition. Today, there are a lot of bovine or cow colostrum supplements available in the market for the nourishment of adults and newborns. But one must be able to choose the best among the available options to avail maximum health benefits.
A 2015 study suggests that colostrum supplements consumption is one of the most superior ways to enhance immunity or other health benefits naturally. As per a review in the “Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science Journal”, colostrum is a rich storehouse of certain nutrients and antibodies or immune factors that can help in strengthening an infant’s immune system. A 2017 study indicates that bovine colostrum supplements play a vital role in improving the health of a preterm baby who cannot be breastfed. Colostrum contains a lot of nutrients like:
It helps to bind iron and plays a vital role in improving immune function as it can display a strong antimicrobial and antiviral action. A study suggests that it can also help in elevating the antioxidant levels in the body and helps in detoxification.
There are a number of growth factors in the colostrum like alpha growth factors, beta growth factors, insulin-like growth factors 1 and 2. These are known to speed up muscle and cartilage repair naturally. Therefore, it becomes the best supplement for athletes for post-work-out repair. Furthermore, these factors play a vital role in the optimum growth of the infants. However, still, the research is going on to confirm the effectiveness of the supplement.
Colostrum is known to contain a large number of antibodies that can help in suppressing bacterial/viral/parasitic infections of the gut. These immunoglobulins/antibodies reach passively to the one who consumes it from the mammal from which it has been derived. Cow colostrum is the best source for maximum antibody intake.
Colostrum intake also helps in optimizing the hormone balance which may consequently help in strengthening the gut lining tissues.
Casein is one of the protein classes that brings the differentiation between the colostrum supplements. It is the largest milk protein group, constituting around 80% of total protein content. There are various types of caseins in the milk. Beta-casein is the second most common among 13 other forms.
The most common forms are:
The milk that we consume regularly contains both A1 and A2 beta-casein proteins. However, few studies indicate that A1 beta-casein may produce harmful health effects. Among A1 and A2 beta-casein, A2 can provide health benefits with minimum side effects.
Undoubtedly, the A2 colostrum is a better and safer choice than the A1 colostrum. During A1 beta-casein digestion, Beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7) is released which is an opioid peptide. Various studies suggest that BCM-7 may have a strong link with the occurrence of type 1 diabetes, infant death, heart diseases, autism, and various digestive problems. Following are the adverse effects associated with this Beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7):
The major health benefits associated with the consumption of bovine colostrum are:
It helps in strengthening the stomach and intestinal tissues. Furthermore, it is known to lower the frequency of gastrointestinal disturbances like diarrhea.
Various studies suggest that colostrum consumption helps in improving lean body mass, promoting speedy recovery after high-intensity training, and supporting lower body strengthening.
By supplying a huge number of antibodies, colostrum helps in strengthening immunity for various bacterial and viral infections.
This is known to contain certain agents that help in suppressing hunger and supplies only good fat to the body. In this way, it can help in healthy weight loss.
Bovine colostrum, especially that is derived from selected A2 cows, is considered safe for consumption with almost negligible adverse drug/nutrient interactions. However, some may face nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, and gastro issues. If such symptoms appear, these will usually be mild. In fact, if someone is consuming A2 milk, he/she may suffer certain severe health issues that have already been discussed above.
Although colostrum lasts for 2–4 days after the lactation begins, the colostrum that is extracted within 6 hours of parturition can be the richest source of nutrients and antibodies. But following the best ethical practices, the newborn calf should be allowed to have enough feed first. Then, the cow colostrum should be extracted to manufacture the super healthy colostrum supplements.
However, there are a lot of reasons that support the fact that one must go for powder preparations of colostrum. If we consume colostrum powder supplement, our oral tissues may also get its local immunity booster, antimicrobial and antibacterial benefits. The word of caution is that one must avoid going for raw colostrum as it may be harmful in many ways.
Colostrum lacks lactose, so it is safer for lactose intolerant individuals also. However, it is not necessary that it does not cause other allergies in some individuals. Moreover, it, undoubtedly, comes from animals, but its extraction does not involve animal cruelty at all. Also, no synthetic form of colostrum is available in the market to date, it is available as a natural dietary supplement only.