Colostrum – What is it, composition and benefits for athletes

Colostrum – What is it, composition and benefits for athletes

Colostrum is the first milk released by mammals after giving birth. After five or six hours, its starts to lose its properties. From them on, the mother will produce breast milk in the following days and months.

That is why it is so important for mothers to breastfeed their children in their first hours of life. Its main objective is to ensure the complete development of the immune and digestive system of the newborn.

What is colostrum?

Colostrum is a milky fluid that comes from the mammal glands of humans, cows and other mammals. This substance is produced on the first days after giving birth, before true breast milk is produced.

It contains protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, as well as antibodies that fight against bacteria and viruses.

This substance enhances the immune system of the newborn, protecting it against infections thanks to a series of antibodies and anti-microbial agents. Moreover, it supports factors such as the immunoregulation and antioxidants.

In addition, colostrum has other growth factors so that the newborn will be able to develop new muscle tissues.

Such are its properties, that just before producing antibiotics, people used bovine colostrum to combat infections. This is due to the high concentration of antibodies from this substance when compared to that of milk.

Colostrum for newborns

The antibody levels from colostrum can be 100 times higher than the ones from regular breast milk

Composition of colostrum

Colostrum is made up by:

  • Specific Proteins: are those that have a prebiotic effect, improving the development of the intestinal flora.
  • Non-specific Proteins help to combat infectious diseases while stimulating the growth of tissues.

Composition of Colostrum


  • Immunoglobulins: also known as antibodies, they are used by the immune system to identify, attack and neutralize strange elements like bacteria and viruses. Absorbing immunoglobulins is essential for the passive immunity of newborn mammals after being born.
  • IgG: bovine colostrum has more IgG than any other immunoglobulin from colostrum. It is responsible for a great part of the immunity against invading pathogens. IgG also helps to activate other immune functions.
  • IgA: it is located in areas like the gastrointestinal, respiratory and urogenital tracts. There, it performs a critical role in the immunity of the mucosa by neutralizing the pathogens.
  • IgM is the first defense line against pathogens that enter the body. Above all, it attacks and inhibits bacteria.
  • IgE plays an important role in allergic reactions and helps to fight against parasites from the digestive tract.
  • IgD works together with IgM to send a signal to B cells, activating them. Moreover, IgD works with other immunoglobulins to enhance the immune system.

Proteins and Amino Acids

  • Cytokines: colostrum has a high percentage of these elements which are capable of changing the biological response. These molecules can be used to signal proteins, peptides or glycoproteins that are used in cell communication. Cytokines play a specific role as growth regulators in epithelial cells, including intestinal inflammation and epithelial regeneration. Moreover, they are also important regulators of immune and inflammatory responses.
  • Lactoferrin is a glycoprotein that binds to iron. In fact, it is one of the anti-microbial components of the immune system that fights against bacteria and fungi in the body. It binds to metal ions which are necessary bacterial metabolites, which is why they are not available for bacterial development. This anti-inflammatory glycoprotein binds to free iron ions in biological fluids, transporting iron to the blood cells. Moreover, lactoferrin inhibits the growth of specific microbes, such as E. coli and Salmonella. In addition, lactoferrin has anti-viral effects as well.
  • Lysozymes are anti-bacterial enzymes that support the immune system when the cell membranes are damaged by harmful bacteria. A special feature of lysozyme is how it interacts with other components from colostrum. Actually, it has been proven that it creates a synergy with lactoperoxidase, IgA and lactoferrin, fighting against E. coli and enhancing its anti-microbial properties.

From milk

  • Lactoalbumin: it is an important nutrients and water soluble protein present in milk. Moreover, it contains essential amino acids which are necessary for the growth and development of the body.
  • Lactoperoxidase is an important anti-bacterial enzyme from colostrum. It protects the mammary glands against infections, partly thanks to a complex that it forms with lysozyme. In addition, it works with lactoferrin to perform some anti-bacterial effects. Some viruses, like poliovirus, are sensitive to the toxic effects of lactoperoxidase against this harmful elements.
  • Polypeptides rich in proline (PRPs): small amino acid chains that have a powerful effect at the beginning of immune responses. Some of their functions include: modulating the immune system, working as molecule signallers, stimulating the growth and differentiation of B cells, stimulating the activity of NK cells and increasing the proliferation of leukocytes.

Growth Factors

  • Growth factors: they stimulate the cell growth and cell differentiation and maturation. In fact, the growth factors work like signalling molecules from one cell to another. That is how they manage to regulate many cell processes.
  • Epidermic Growth Factors (EGF) play an important role in regulating the growth, proliferation and differentiation of cells. Moreover, the EGF group can help to regulate the development of the epidermis, mammary glands and bowel.
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors (FGFs) help to develop new blood vessels and support wound healing.
  • Insulin Growth Factor (IGF-1): these are the most abundant growth factors in bovine colostrum. In fact, these proteins are simple chain polypeptides with amino acids. They play an important role in childhood growth and they have an anabolic effect on adults.
  • Platelet derived Growth Factor (PDGF) is one of the many proteins that regulate the cell growth and division. In fact, they play an important role in the formation of blood vessels.
  • Transforming Growth Factors (TGF-alpha and TGF-beta): TGF-alpha stimulates the development of epithelial tissues. TGF-beta plays a crucial role in the tissue regeneration, cell differentiation, bone cartilage formation and immune system regulation.

Composition of Colostrum

Essential nutrients from colostrum

  • Carbohydrates: from simple sugars to complex oligosaccharides, they are one of the three macronutrients (with fats and protein).
  • Fats: they involve an important hormone factor
  • Protein: the protein from colostrum provides essential nutrients for the growth of the muscle and thin tissue, amino acids. They consists of a great number of compounds known as “building blocks”. Amino acids are essential for our nutrition and muscle growth. Moreover, they help to provide energy.
  • Vitamins: including vitamin A, B2, B9, B12, and D. To put it simple, they are organic essential nutrients that, with minerals, perform many biological functions.
  • Minerals: including calcium, chloride, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. These are also catalysts of several bodily functions, such as the metabolism or ATP production.

Colostrum has a very high protein content, while being low in fats and carbs when compared to milk. Orally, we can absorb around a 98%, meaning that it has a high bioavailability, such as Whey Protein.

Colostrum manufacturing process

The colostrum used for supplementation usually comes from bovine cattle. It is extracted in the first few hours after giving birth and it can come from cows, sheep, pigs, etc… As long as they have been naturally fed without dry foods or chemical products. Moreover, they have obviously needed to pass the corresponding sanitary controls.

Colostrum from Cows

Colostrum from Grass-Fed Cattle

Later on, it undergoes a process until it is lyophylized and frozen. In fact, it can be frozen at -20 degrees for a year without changing its composition.

What are the uses of colostrum?

Its most scientifically relevant property is its ability to stimulate and develop the immune system. As we know, we are all born with a complete immune system but it has much to learn. Otherwise, the cells that make it up will not be able to distinguish the good from the bad cells, meaning that it will not be ready to go against them.

Antimicrobial properties

Colostrum has anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties to protect the organism against external threats.

Colostrum transfers its components (immunoglobulin) to the immune memory of the mother to the new born. In this way, it will be able to fight against infections and diseases related to cancer. In other words, it transfers the necessary conditioning.

Importance of colostrum

Apart from having a great nutrient content is very easy to digest and absorb for newborns. To do so, it will also provide natural growth factors naturally so that they can develop their vital organism with a high protein with barely proteins nor fats.

Spoonful of colostrum

Colostrum is nutritionally very complete

Moreover, it is essential to start developing and strengthening the immune system

Properties of colostrum

Colostrum can prevent bacterial infections and the flu, relieve the symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, treat diabetes, reduce the inflammation associated with autoimmune disorder and enhance the functioning of the immune system…

Colostrum powder

It has a series of important nutrients, including: protein, vitamins, minerals, immune factors, growth factors and metabolic factors.

It is regarded as a great food. Thanks to technology and research, we can benefit from this particular substance not only during the post-birth phase.

Why should you take colostrum?

Everyone knows about the important of colostrum for the development of the immune system of newborns. Its bioactive components are quite similar to those of bovine colostrum. That is why the use of this source of colostrum has increased among human beings.

Colostrum for athletes

Colostrum is a substance that everybody should benefit from, specially athletes

Above all, it strengthens the immune system due to its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Moreover, it provides benefits against autoimmune digestive diseases, and even due to its uses in the field of sports.

What are the benefits of bovine colostrum?

the results of colostrum supplementation are similar to whey protein supplementation. Although colostrum has some unique benefits for the immune and digestive systems.

Fighting against leaky gut syndrome

Usually, athletes suffer problems related to the digestive system during the most demanding training periods. More specifically, they can develop a pathology such as leaky gut syndrome. It triggers the inflammation of the small bowel as well as holes in the mucous membrane. Consequently, many dangerous compounds can enter the bloodstream and cause diseases.

Leaky gut syndrome

The immune factors in colostrum can help to protect anyone with leaky gut syndrome by attacking viruses, bacteria and fungi.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerous colitis

According to research, the antibodies from colostrum can also help those who suffer any inflammatory bowel disorder. The antibodies protect us against certain bacterial strains that have the ability to trigger autoimmune diseases.

Strengthening the immune system

The immune factors from colostrum can help to prevent colds or the flu. As we grow old, our immune system becomes less sensitive to invading viruses. However, the antibodies from colostrum combined with a healthy lifestyle can restore the immune function.

Colostrum fights against the bacteria

The antibodies from colostrum can also effectively reduce the diarrhea caused by Escherichia Coli

The research has even proven that using colostrum can even be more effective to prevent the flu than vaccination.

Colostrum and growth factors

Bovine colostrum, which is the one used for food supplements, has 87 growth factors. These components are involved in muscle growth, apart from contributing to stimulating the muscle mass, connective tissue, skin and bone system.

Why do athletes use colostrum?

Benefits of Colostrum for Athletes


Colostrum can have important benefits when it comes to improving the recovery. More specifically, there is a health marker called creatine kinase that reflects the amount of muscle damage.

Creatine kinase or CK is an enzyme that is located on the skeletal muscle and it indicates that there could be a high volume of exercise. It affects our ability to recover and regenerate muscle tissues. Therefore, colostrum could reduce the blood creatine kinase levels.

If you are an athlete and you want to benefit from the properties of colostrum supplements, click here to purchase

How to take colostrum?

The standard dose of colostrum for a protein supplement or intestinal support is between 10-60g. Said dose contains 2-4g (10-30%) of immunoglobulin.

One scoop of colostrum

The results can be enhanced by combining colostrum and whey

When it comes to purchasing a colostrum supplement, it is important to check its composition. First of all, we have to check if it has a high Active Immunoglobulin G content, which is one of the most important antibodies. It provides more protection while strengthening the immune system.

Purchasing colostrum

There are several formats of colostrum supplements available, such as powder or capsules. But the best way is the first option and, specially, if we combine it with some whey protein powder.

Colostrum and high performance athletes

Therefore, we can purchase the whey protein Evoexcel 2.0. by HSN because it is enriched with colostrum and other elements:


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About Javier Colomer
Javier Colomer
"Knowledge Makes Stronger", Javier Colomer's motto, sets out his clearest statement of intentions expressing his knowledge and fitness experience.
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