Colostrum supplements are a thing now. Here's what the experts are saying.

Health and wellbeing is a funny old space, isn't it? Because just when you feel like you've seen it all (placenta pills, marine collagen, breast milk for acne, etc.) colostrum supplements waltz their way over.

Yes, colostrum supplements. 

Everyone's talking about them all of a sudden — and we really need to break it all down. Because truly, wtf.

If you're anything like us, you're already trying to keep up with the overdrive of new supplements on the market, and you've diligently been taking approximately eleventy million tablets/powders/capsules/liquids every day in the hope they're doing ~something good~.

While colostrum supplements aren't necessarily a 'new' thing, thanks to the current hype around everything "wellness", they've recently exploded in popularity.

So do you really need to add colostrum tablets to the list? 

What are the actual benefits? And where is this colostrum... coming from? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Watch: Speaking of all things wellness... when was the last time you said 'no' to something? Here's how to resist your people pleasing urges and learn to say no. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

To answer them, we decided to chat with some experts.

Below, we asked a doctor and nutritionist everything we should know about colostrum supplements — including what it actually is, the benefits and if it's really something we need to take.

What is colostrum?

Oh, good one! Let's back it up a little... 

"Colostrum is also known as the first milk," explains Dr Sonja Coetzee from InstantScripts. "It is the first liquid that is produced by the breasts and is extremely nutritious."

"It is usually a dark, golden colour and babies only need a very small amount for their nutritional needs."

Sounds... appetising. 

But the actual benefits are pretty magical — there's a good reason it's referred to as 'liquid gold'.

As registered nurse and nutritionist Madeline Calfas explained, "It is rich in antioxidants, is nutrient dense (contains loads of protein, vitamins and minerals) and exceptionally high in antibodies (immunoglobulins) from the mother so that baby gets plenty of immune protection in the first few days of life on the outside."

On the gut side of things, Dr Coetzee said colostrum "protects the digestive system and promotes healthy gut function, as well as having a "slight laxative effect that helps clear the meconium". (FYI: meconium is a baby's first poo).


"The flow of colostrum is slow and is very helpful, teaching newborns early breastfeeding skills," said Dr Coetzee.


As Calfas added, "Colostrum becomes breast milk between day two to four postpartum (although there will be small trace amounts of colostrum in the breastmilk for several weeks after birth)." 

So what does this all have to do with colostrum supplements for adults? 

Let's get into it.

What are colostrum supplements?

When you first heard of colostrum supplements, we guarantee the first thing that popped into your head was why? Followed by where does it come from?

So, what actually is ingestible colostrum?

As our experts explained to us, bovine (cow) colostrum is used in supplements as it has really similar components to human colostrum — they're both full of vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes.

However, there are some key differences — mainly in terms of the differences between... humans and cows.

As Calfas outlined: "The biggest difference between human colostrum and bovine (cow) colostrum is that human colostrum is designed to provide the requirements for human development and bovine colostrum is designed to provide the essential nutrients for cow development."

Basically, the concentration of certain nutrients are different to suit the needs of different species.


"When comparing human colostrum to bovine colostrum, there are three components that need to be considered — immunoglobulins (antibodies), growth factors and lactose."

To start, bovine colostrum has a really high concentration of antibodies you wouldn't normally find in human colostrum. It also has higher concentrations of certain growth factors and enzymes.

Human colostrum contains antibodies and growth factors that are unique to humans.

As Calfas told us: "Growth Factors are used a lot to help repair the body when there is an injury (it is the basis of treatments using PRP — Platelet Rich Plasma and stem cells) to the skin and other tissues, including the reduction of intestinal hyper-permeability (aka leaky gut)." 

"These growth factors are used to help close the holes in the heart and intestines that all human babies are born with (to allow the antibodies, proteins and other nutrients to pass through the bloodstream)."

There are also the differences in lactose.

Dr Coetzee explained "human colostrum has higher concentrations of lactose compared to bovine colostrum. The lactose in the human colostrum supports the newborns, brain, development and growth."

"Although bovine colostrum has lower levels of lactose, it has high levels of casein that promotes muscle development and growth."


What are the benefits of colostrum supplements?

So, why exactly are we ingesting cow colostrum?

Well, differences aside, when used in supplement form, bovine colostrum can actually offer many different benefits to humans.

Dr Coetzee said bovine colostrum supplements can be "very beneficial in fighting infection, reducing inflammation and promoting gut health."

She added, "Colostrum helps to accelerate the healing of muscles and cartilage and through its anti-inflammatory benefits and can help muscle aches and pain, and improve joint pain."

According to Calfas: "Many people take bovine colostrum as it can help to build immunity and promote gut repair."

"It can be particularly useful for people prone to respiratory illnesses in the winter months as it is rich in proteins that support immune function."

So, there you have it.

Should you take colostrum supplements?

As mentioned before, colostrum supplements have been around for years — so they're not necessarily something new to the market. However, it kinda makes sense why they've blown up,

"Given the magnitude of the last couple of years and the effect that it has had on humans globally, it makes absolute sense that there has been a resurgence in the popularity of anything that can help to build immunity and offer any kind of increased protection against respiratory illnesses," said Calfas.


See: The global pandemic.

"Bovine collagen supplements offer a range of benefits for different disease processes," said Dr Coetzee. "Therefore, it is not surprising that people would look at these supplements to promote longevity and good health."

As always, it's best to check in with your doctor or healthcare professional before getting into supplements willy-nilly — so hit them up and have a chat to find out if colostrum supplements are really right for you.

As we talked about earlier, bovine colostrum is a supplement that comes from cows, so "anyone who has protein allergies, in particular MMA (mammalian meat allergy) should NOT take a bovine supplement," said Calfas.

When used correctly, Dr Coetzee explained, "there is usually very little harm."

Just keep in mind that supplements aren't a one-size-fits all kind of thing — and it's really dependent on the individual.

As Calfas said, "They [bovine colostrum supplements] can really be of value to some people, but, just as you can't out-train a bad diet, you can't out-supplement a poor diet either. The lifestyle has to fit as well."

Hear, hear.

Have you tried colostrum supplements before? Share your experience with us in the comment section below. 

Feature image: Getty; Canva.

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