It never ceases to amaze us how fast to market companies are when a new nutritional supplement is discovered. Google colostrum supplement, the subject of this review, and you will receive about 2.6 million responses within 6.6 seconds. Now, there aren’t 2.6 million different products, but there is a plethora of them. In our research, we discovered colostrum supplementation is nearly as prevalent in the veterinary world for horses and dogs as at your local Whole Foods or GNC.
Please note, we Googled colostrum supplement, not colostrum, as colostrum certainly isn’t new; in fact, it’s mother nature’s first superfood.
In this article, we will explain colostrum and colostrum supplements. We’ll review the different types of colostrum, the different potencies, and methods of collection and processing. Since the best-in-class colostrum supplements come from grass-fed cattle, we’ll explain the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed cows. We list the benefits of colostrum supplementation, provide suggestions on how to take it, when to take it, and dosages. Since there are potential issues with colostrum supplementation, we will review its possible adverse effects. As always, we’ll provide you with recommendations for some of the best colostrum supplements out on the market today.
Colostrum – Mother Nature’s First Super Food
Colostrum is the first form of milk produced by the mammary glands of mammals (including humans) immediately following the delivery of a newborn. It is the milky fluid released by mammals that have recently given birth before breast milk production begins. Colostrum provides nutrients for infants to grow and fight disease.
In addition to promoting growth and health in infants and newborn animals, recent research indicates that taking (BC) bovine colostrum supplements may support immunity, combat infections, enhance gut health, improve athletic performance, and build lean muscle mass.
Ancestral Wisdom – Colostrum
Our ancestors knew the potential of colostrum as the ultimate nutrition. For thousands of years, Ayurvedic medical practitioners have used colostrum for its healing benefits. Only recently has there been more modern research conducted to validate colostrum’s remarkable potential as a supplement.
What Are Colostrum Supplements?
Even though all mammals produce colostrum, today’s supplements are typically made from cows’ colostrum (BC) bovine colostrum. Bovine colostrum is similar to human colostrum in that both are rich in vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, disease-fighting proteins, growth hormones, and digestive enzymes. The BC is pasteurized and dried into capsules, pills, tablets, or powders that can be mixed with liquids.
Bovine colostrum contains significantly more nutrients than regular milk. It typically has a light yellow color and a subtle taste and smell that resembles buttermilk. As mentioned, the best of the best BC supplements are sourced from pasture-raised, grass-fed cattle.
Grass-fed colostrum is a whole food dietary supplement.
Actually, colostrum is not milk, but a precursor containing many “superfood” factors only for the first twenty-four hours after a mammal gives birth. BC is rich in macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, but its unique benefits are linked to specific protein compounds:
- Immune Factors – Lactoferrin, a protein that supports your body’s immune response to infections, viral or bacterial
- Growth Factors – BC is high in insulin-like growth factors I and II (IGF-1 and IGF-2), responsible for stimulating growth
- Antibodies – such as immunoglobulins (IGG), proteins used to fight bacteria and viruses
Modern research indicates that in supplementation, bovine colostrum may provide us with more significant benefits than human colostrum.
Colostrum Collection And Processing
First, let’s dispel the notion that BC collection deprives a newborn calf of its essential nutrients. A newborn calf needs about 5 liters of colostrum for its immunity and functionality of the gut. The cow produces 10-15 liters of colostrum, leaving 5-10 liters in surplus that can be collected and used for other purposes.
Keeping the collection and production process as pure and gentle as possible is vital to protect and preserve the bioactive factors and nutrients in colostrum. The beneficial effects are dependent on the presence of an intact milk matrix, including fat. Best in class manufacturers do not remove or add anything to the colostrum during the production process.
After collection, freezing, and rigid testing, the colostrum is pasteurized and spray dried, keeping temperatures as low as possible, except during the pasteurization where the temperatures meet standard criteria.
Our research illustrated that although BC is incredibly nutrient-dense, the most critical measure of its potency is the percentage of immunoglobulin (IGG) antibodies present. A minimal standard is 30% potency.
Grass Fed Cattle – A Legal Definition
The term “grass-fed” (as opposed to grain-fed) generally refers to cows that were raised, after weaning, on a diet of grass, and when fresh grass is unavailable, close substitutes such as hay or alfalfa. Grass-fed cows forage and graze for their fresh food. The emphasis is on providing the closest thing to a natural diet as possible.
The USDA defined grass-fed in 2007; however, they recently rescinded their definition as not benefiting stakeholders in the category or the consumer. As a result, we now defer to the American Grassfed, the Food Alliance, and Animal Welfare Approved associations for a definition.
The American Grassfed Association definition:
- 100% Grass Diet – Animals are fed only grass and forage from weaning until harvest
- Raised on Pasture – Animals are raised on pasture without confinement
- No Antibiotics or Hormones – Animals are never treated with antibiotics or added growth hormones
Colostrum Supplement Benefits
In nature, consuming colostrum, or first milk of a mother animal, was believed to provide the person with protection, strength, and overall life-long health. Colostrum supplements claims:
- Supports the body’s natural defenses
- Improved gastrointestinal health
- Enhanced immune system
- Boosts overall health and well-being
- Increased muscle mass
- Creates a more youthful appearance
Additional Benefits of Colostrum Supplementation
- Thymus health
- Human growth
- Cell repair
- Increased athletic performance
When To Take Colostrum Supplements
Colostrum generally works best when taken on an empty stomach. The standard colostrum dose intended as a protein supplement or for intestinal health agent is between 20-60 grams per day. In most clinical trials for athletic performance, the standard dosage was 60 grams per day.
Colostrum Supplement Forms
Colostrum supplements are available in powdered form and capsules, pills, tablets, and gel caps. There are even colostrum nasal sprays marketed as allergy relief remedies.
Will A Colostrum Supplement Work For Me?
Bovine colostrum is documented in clinical trials, case reports, and anecdotal findings. Primary benefits include an antibacterial effect and support of the immune response. In athletes, BC supplementation is shown to increase energy. The IGF-1 in colostrum slows the rate of protein breakdown (catabolism), enabling faster recovery, and the growth factors speed protein synthesis, increasing lean muscle mass.
It’s fascinating to note that if you listen to your body, you can determine where colostrum has gone in your body to do its work. Colostrum’s growth factors may create pain in areas where you have older wounds or injuries as they begin to heal. Should this become too uncomfortable, you may want to cut back on the colostrum for a few days.
Are Colostrum Supplements Safe?
Based on limited human research, bovine colostrum is generally regarded as safe for most people — with several notable exceptions. People who are allergic to milk should not consume bovine colostrum, and some BC products may be made with additives that can include other common allergens like soy.
The Herxheimer Reaction
There is a small percentage of people who may experience a detoxification, or Herxheimer reaction when supplementing with BC. Symptoms may include nausea, headache, dizziness, or flu-like symptoms. Fortunately, these symptoms disappear within a couple of days.
Note: A detoxification, or Herxheimer reaction is most likely to occur if you begin supplementing with the full recommended dosage of colostrum. If you are sensitive to supplements or have an autoimmune condition, you may wish to start slowly and build your tolerance.
Colostrum Supplement Alternatives
Depending on the benefit you are seeking from colostrum supplementation, you have alternatives. In clinical trials for athletic performance and lean muscle mass, colostrum is compared to both whey protein and soy protein. You might opt for elderberry, vitamin C, D3, or zinc if you intend to improve your immune system. If your goal is to improve gut health, you may want to consider a probiotic or prebiotic supplement, such as Just Thrive Probiotic or PrebioThrive.
Best Colostrum Supplements
When picking the best colostrum supplements, we adhered to the following criteria:
- We reviewed purity and potency, selected products with the correct immunoglobulin (IGG) concentration of 30%
- Collection and processing was important in our selections – Colostrum extracted within the first 12 hours
- We insisted upon grass-fed products, sourced from the U.S. or New Zealand
- We ensured the products are manufactured in a certified cGMP facility (Good Manufacturing Practices)
- We looked for companies and brands that have independent third-party testing and money-back guarantees
Grass Fed Colostrum, from Ancestral Supplements
Ancestral Supplements makes a complete product line of Grassfed supplements, including their Grassfed Colostrum. The product is sourced in New Zealand and manufactured in the U.S. in a cGMP facility. There are no hormones, pesticides, allergens, GMOs, or fillers.
The Ancestral collection and processing procedures, nothing added or omitted from the natural colostrum, meet our standards for third-party testing.GET THE BEST PRICE ON ANCESTRAL SUPPLEMENTS GRASS FED COLOSTRUM
Colostrum LD (Liposomal Delivery), from Sovereign Laboratories
We were intrigued by the Sovereign’s Liposomal Delivery system that promises up to 1,500% more bioavailability. (The delivery system ensures the colostrum’s bioactive components survive the digestive tract and are well absorbed into the bloodstream). And we were impressed that the product is all-natural, made in the U.S. in a GMP facility, and certified organic. They meet our requirements for third-party testing and are guaranteed to contain 25% – 30% IGG. Finally, Colostrum LD is a reduced lactose product making it easier to tolerate for those sensitive to lactose and dairy products.GET THE BEST PRICE ON COLOSTRUM LD
Colostrum High-IG, from Symbiotics
For those seeking a more economical method to test the colostrum category, we have the Symbiotics Colostrum High-IG, guaranteed to deliver 40% Immunoglobulins.
The Symbiotic product is manufactured in the US in a cGMP facility and is laboratory tested for potency and purity.GET THE BEST PRICE ON SYMBIOTICS COLOSTRUM HIGH-IG
Recovery Colostrum, by Surthrival
We wanted to include at least one product targeted more towards the athlete. Surthrival’s Colostrum is a Recovery and Immune Optimization product. Surthrival lists its benefits in the following order with a greater focus on endurance, muscle mass, recovery time, and joints than other colostrum products.
- Increased endurance and lean muscle mass
- Balanced Immune function
- Shortened recovery time
- Healthy digestion and overall Intestinal (gut) health
- Improved cognitive function
- Maintain healthy joints, cartilage, and musculature
Surthrival’s production facilities are cGMP approved. The product is non-GMO, and the colostrum has nothing added, nor removed, the product is not defatted.GET THE BEST PRICE ON SURTHRIVAL RECOVERY COLOSTRUM
Stacking Colostrum With Other Supplements
As with alternatives to colostrum, stacking colostrum depends on the benefit you are seeking. For athletic performance and lean muscle mass, colostrum may be paired with any number of sports nutrition supplements. Our favorites would include creatine, beta-alanine, and a nitric oxide booster, such as L-arginine. If you intend to improve your immune system, stacking with vitamin C, vitamin D3, and zinc would make an excellent regimen. If your goal is to improve gut health, prebiotics and probiotics are ideal.
The makers of our #1 choice Ancestral Supplements recommends stacking with their other Grassfed products, such as:
- Grassfed Beef Liver
- Grassfed Beef Organs (liver, heart, kidney, pancreas, spleen)
- Grassfed Bone Marrow
- Grassfed Collagen
To Summarize: Best Colostrum Supplements
Colostrum has been clinically studied and proven effective for many of the structure-function claims we have cited in this review: gut health, immune support, athletic performance, and building lean mass. We have no problem in endorsing colostrum’s use and leaving the decision to you, colostrum, or the potential, less costly alternatives. The mere fact the product can command such high prices adds to the intrigue and allure of at least putting your toe in the water and experimenting.
We hope this review has helped to educate and inform you about this exciting supplement. Now you know the best colostrum supplements, so you can find the one that is right for your health.