Unveiling the power of cow colostrum: Is this nature's hidden health gem?

By Claire Wolters | Fact-checked by Jessica Wrubel
Published January 24, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Some people are taking cow colostrum as a health supplement.

  • Research shows that cow colostrum could have similar benefits to human colostrum, providing immunoglobulins and proteins to support the body.

  • To what extent cow colostrum can benefit the body is unclear, so it shouldn’t be viewed as a miracle pill just yet.

Some people are taking cow colostrum, or bovine colostrum, as a health supplement. Social media users say the supplement has massive health benefits, including health immunity, digestion, sleep, and muscle recovery.

Colostrum is the first type of breast milk a mother produces after giving birth, which tends to be thick and yellowish. It is high in protein and immunoglobulin content and essential for a newborn's development. While all mammals (who are female) can produce this, the current trends highlight bovine colostrum as an alternative to human colostrum for use in adults, not just babies.[][] 

Bovine colostrum has the potential to be used in various types of health and pharmaceutical products, some of which are already demonstrated. Studies say some other industrial uses for bovine colostrum include:[]

  • Feed supplements.

  • Cosmetics.

  • Prebiotics.

  • Infant formula.

  • Food. (Really, some researchers are looking into colostrum-based ice cream.)[]

Bovine colostrum use in adults

Studies on bovine colostrum are promising, and researchers say it may have a wide range of pharmaceutical uses in the prevention and pretreatment of diseases.

Some of the potential health benefits include:[]

  • Wound healing.

  • Glycaemic control.

  • Obesity management.

  • Muscle protein synthesis.

  • Tumor suppression.

  • Respiratory infection prevention.

  • Gastrointestinal health promotion.

However, more research is needed to confirm findings and guide best use. In the interim, some doctors warn not to get carried away by the good news — “colostrum is not a miracle solution,” nutritionist Serena Poon told USA Today.[]

Bovine colostrum use in babies

Researchers suggest that bovine colostrum can be “well-tolerated, nontoxic, and safe for human ingestion,” including for babies. However, farming and cultivation techniques can influence the safety and composition of bovine colostrum. Among other components, antibiotic use in cows may be of concern if antibiotics are not properly removed from the final product. The researchers suggest that technologies can properly remove concerning antibodies, but again, the area may benefit from more study.

What this means for you

Some people are taking cow colostrum as a health supplement – and they may be onto something. Research shows that cow colostrum could be a safe and effective alternative to human colostrum, and has potential for supplement use in adults. More studies are needed to confirm the benefits, however. And remind patients that supplements are not strictly regulated by the FDA.

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