Colostrum – What is it, and why should I take it?

Aquasource Colactive 3 Colostrum

Colactive 3 (colostrum with Acidophilus and Lactoferrin)

Colostrum is the first part of milk produced by the mother, whether human or other mammal. It’s by far the most nutritious part of the milk, designed by nature to give the highest chance of survival to infants just entering the world. Colostrum is very high in healthful lactalbumin and lactoprotein, as well as antibodies which confer passive immunity to the newborn.

It’s considered to be highly advantageous after birth of a newborn to ensure that they get colostrum from the mother, since immunity is not transferred to the animal before birth, so receiving colostrum is crucial.

No surprise then that this incredible and valuable substance has long been appreciated and prized. Before the development of antibiotics, immunoglobulins from  Bovine Colostrum were used to avoid illness. After the introduction of antibiotics, the interest in colostrum diminished, but in the last ten years or so there has been a strong revival of interest in this important food.

Commercial production of colostrum is from cows (Bovine). Naturally, the calf’s needs are met first, and surplus colostrum can then be used for human requirements. Nature often provides us with ideal solutions, and in the case of bovine colostrum, it appears to be even better than human colostrum in many respects. This is because calves are born with less immunity than humans, so need more from the colostrum, plus the active components in colostrum are identical, whether from humans or bovine source.

Colostrum is used by athletes, who believe it enhances their performance, decreases recovery time, and prevents the onset of illness, which could adversely affect training and performance. It’s used by a number of National Rugby Teams, and other elite athletes, and its use is beginning to filter down to lower level athletes, and non-athletes who wish to derive the same potential benefits.

Human consumption of bovine colostrum is completely safe, although it may not be suitable for those who are intolerant or allergic to dairy proteins.

It is believed by some to have great potential in prevention of a number of conditions. One component of colostrum, IGF1, is believed to be of great value to individuals who suffer from malnutrition or those wishing to lose weight.

A 2001 study published in Nutrition 17 (3): 243-7 by Sanders and Van Gammeren, showed that supplementation of colostrum in active men and women, in combination with exercise, increased bone density.

An easy way to understand the benefits of colostrum is to realise that it contains healthy bacteria. The idea of ingesting beneficial bacteria to maintain a healthy gastro-intestinal microbial balance is nothing new, but in fact was first proposed some 100 years ago. Friendly floras are the beneficial bacterial inhabitants of our digestive tract.

The main function of the digestive system is to prepare food so it may be available to the body for use in energy, growth and maintenance. A critical balance needs to exist between the various friendly and unfriendly bacteria in order to maintain a healthy intestine. This critical balance can be affected by changes in diet, health status, age, immune status, stress and pharmaceutical medications. Taking colostrum can help maintain a favourable balance of friendly bacteria in the gut, thus helping to maintain good health.