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colostrum supplement

The Many Benefits of Colostrum

A mother’s milk does much more than nourish her infant. We now know that in addition to providing complete nutrition, it also provides immense health benefits by passing on antibodies. The most important transmission is in the first few days after giving birth, when colostrum — a milky fluid that is secreted by mammary cells before “real” milk comes in — is released. Colostrum contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, growth factors, and antibodies, all contained within a protective cell membrane to ensure that it reaches the infant’s gut intact. Now that doctors and scientists understand more about colostrum and how it works, it’s become popular as a supplement that supports wellness, has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits, and can help relieve the symptoms of many diseases. Keep reading to learn how colostrum can improve your health.
colostrum supplement
What is colostrum?
We’ve long known that maternal milk nurtures babies, but it’s only recently that we’ve come to understand how colostrum works. In the 1950s, scientists realized that milk provided passive transmission of immunity, but it wasn’t until the discovery of immunoglobulins in the ’60s that we began to understand how this process works. There has been considerable interest in harnessing the health benefits of heterologous colostrum — that is, colostrum taken from another species — so that we could use its benefits beyond infancy. The most common colostrum that you will find as a supplement is bovine colostrum, which studies have shown to be effective in preventing or treating some diseases in humans as well as cows. Bovine colostrum contains antibody levels that can be up to 100 times higher than those found in regular cow’s milk, making it a powerful immune booster. We’ve actually only identified and studied a few hundred of the components of colostrum, but it contains literally hundreds of thousands of parts.
Colostrum has numerous benefits, but overall we can sort these into two categories. First, the growth factors support healing and health. Second, the immune factors and antibodies give your immune system a huge boost. Regular supplementation with bovine colostrum can help with increased bone density, support for muscle growth, help with weight maintenance, cholesterol reduction, improved cognitive function, and more. Colostrum also is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is at the root of many diseases, including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and some cancers. Supplementing with colostrum can be helpful in managing these and other conditions.
What are the anti-aging benefits of colostrum?
Many of the benefits of colostrum can help enhance your quality of life by forestalling or alleviating physical and mental issues associated with aging. This can include decreased muscle and bone mass, diminished cognitive function, and loss of skin elasticity. We think of turning 40 as going “over the hill,” but these processes likely begin much earlier — most people reach their full growth by age 20. Colostrum can potentially help you to live better, not just longer.
Immune and growth factors found in colostrum, like Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1 and IGF-2), can provide regenerative benefits to cells throughout the body. These growth factors normally decline after puberty; increasing levels of IGF-1 helps to repair DNA and RNA, maintain muscle mass, and increase strength. You might associate these kinds of properties with Human Growth Hormone (HGH), but HGH works the same way — it’s not actually an anti-ager, instead HGH increases IGF-1 and IGF-2. However, some in the medical community believe that HGH carries with it many risks, including an increased risk for some cancers. The growth factors in colostrum are 100% bio-identical to your body’s own growth factors, giving you the benefits without the risks. Colostrum contains amino acids that help your body synthesize muscle tissue. When you age, your body’s muscles become resistant to being stimulated by these amino acids, making it more difficult to create new muscle tissue. You might not be a body builder, but maintaining muscle mass is important to preventing falls (a major cause of disability for older people) and helping you to recover more quickly from injury.
In addition to helping preserve muscles and lean body mass, colostrum can help you maintain a healthy weight. Colostrum contains bioactive peptides and amino acids that stimulate hormones that tell you you’re full, making it easier to avoid overindulging at the dinner table. It also provides your body directly with leptin, a hormone that helps you efficiently use energy from calories in addition to helping with satiety signals. Other components of colostrum, like leucine, have been shown to play a role in fat loss, improved muscle maintenance, and modulating glucose levels.
Loss of bone density and overall bone mass can be a major problem, especially for women. Your body is always replacing the cells in your bones, but as you age, your body doesn’t replenish cells quickly enough to keep up with the cells lost. That means bones become more porous and brittle, possibly leading to osteoporosis. Postmenopausal women are especially susceptible to osteoporosis, not only because women generally have less bone mass than men to begin with, but also because changes in hormone levels can accelerate bone loss. Colostrum can help to mitigate this bone loss, containing a cocktail of bone-health helpers like TGF-B, lactoferrin, Epidethelial Growth Factor (EGF), osteopotin, and IGF-2, all of which support healthy bones.
Colostrum also has many brain-boosting components, helping to relieve issues from depression to dementia. Alpha-lactalbumin helps increase tryptophan, which helps your brain synthesize serotonin. Maintaining serotonin levels in your brain improves your ability to cope with stress, keeps your memory sharp, and helps reduce mood swings and low moods. Additionally, alpha-lactalbumin boosts your levels of glutathione, which may have a protective effect against age-associated diseases including neurological diseases. Alzheimer’s disease is a major concern for many aging people, and colostrum contains proline-rich polypeptides (PRPs), which have shown promise for improving the function of those in the early stages of the disease. PRPs can help prevent beta-amyloid aggregation (the characteristic plaques of Alzheimer’s), defend against oxidative stress, and decrease inflammation. It has been hypothesized that supplementing with colostrum could be a good preventative measure against this kind of cognitive decline.
Some researchers believe that telomeres — structures at the ends of chromosomes that determine the number of times a cell can divide — are the key to understanding how we age. Long telomeres help maintain chromosomes’ structural integrity; shorter telomeres mean chromosomes may lose DNA pairs, damage that makes may them unable to replicate and produce new cells. This has numerous implications: For example, people over 60 who have short telomeres are 3x more likely to die from heart disease and 8x more likely to die from infectious disease than people the same age with longer telomeres. The good news? Colostrum contains the enzyme telomerase, which helps to lengthen telomeres. That potentially helps with all of the degenerative aspects of aging.
How does colostrum protect your gut health?
We’ve often written on the blog about the importance of gut health, and colostrum provides numerous benefits both for protecting your gastrointestinal tissue and for maintaining the good bacteria in your gut. It’s especially helpful in protecting against Leaky Gut Syndrome, which can lead to more serious health conditions and contribute to food allergies or sensitivities. With Leaky Gut Syndrome, your intestinal lining develops microscopic holes that allow allergens, pathogens, and even undigested food particles to “leak” out into your body. It’s estimated that approximately three-quarters of adults have Leaky Gut Syndrome. Many items we consume every day — soda, coffee, alcohol, and many kinds of medications including OTC pain relievers and some birth control pills — can contribute to intestinal permeability.
Colostrum contains lactoferrin, immunoglobulins, and other immune factors that help to protect against toxins and fight pathogens. It can help protect against E.Coli, a common food contaminant and cause of diarrhea, as well as preventing digestive issues brought on by many kinds of viruses, yeast, parasites, bacteria, and toxins. Epithelial growth factors help stimulate the repair and replacement of the cells in your intestinal membranes, and lactoferrin binds both to the intestinal wall and to pathogens themselves to inhibit their ability to cause harm. Alpha-lactalbumin provides protection against digestive diseases like Crohn’s disease, IBS, and ulcerative colitis by increasing levels of the antioxidant glutathione. Some studies have also shown that alpha-lactalbumin may help prevent injury to the gut caused by stress or alcohol use. Colostrum is also helpful in maintaining a healthy gut flora, providing prebiotics that help good bacteria — like bifidobacteria — flourish.
Colostrum is so effective at promoting a healthy gut because it reaches your intestines while the components are still viable, thanks to being encased in a cellular membrane. That allows the immunoglobulins, leukocytes, antibodies, and other factors to survive digestion. By also providing the general benefit of decreasing inflammation and spurring cellular regeneration, colostrum helps repair damaged cells in the intestinal lining, decrease the spacing between cells, and heal a “leaky gut.”
Can colostrum help relieve allergies?
Many people believe the babies who are breastfed are less susceptible to allergies. It makes sense, given the immune-boosting benefits of breast milk but more specifically colostrum. Allergies occur when the immune system has a reaction to something that’s not a pathogen; for example, something in your physical environment (like pollen) or food (like peanuts). Colostrum passively transfers antibodies that inoculate against allergens; when you supplement with colostrum, it helps to reduce sensitivity to allergens or at least minimize the body’s response.
Colostrum contains many components that can aid cell-mediated immunity. The immunoglobulins in colostrum are also helpful in reducing allergic episodes by regulating the histamine response. Researchers have found that bovine colostrum includes antibodies against dust mites, some forms of mold, wheat proteins, and ryegrass pollen. It also has antibodies that help protect against common pathogens including Candida, H. pylori, salmonella, and E. Coli.
The proline-rich polypeptides (PRPs) in colostrum modulate the immune system, helping to reduce the exaggerated immune response that can occur upon exposure to an allergen. They do this by regulating the thymus gland. This can help not only with an overactive immune system (as is the case with an allergic reaction) as well as an underactive immune system (as in people who have immune suppression or suffer from autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, MS, and lupus). PRPs are hard workers: They rein in the overproduction of lymphocytes and some kinds of T-cells, while stimulating production of helper and suppressor T-cells. In all, PRPs are one of the most powerful components found in colostrum.
How can I supplement with colostrum?
With bovine colostrum, it’s especially important to look for a high-quality supplement in order to receive its benefits. If the active ingredients have been destroyed during processing, if they won’t survive digestion, or if they are not bioavailable, you aren’t getting any benefit. Colostrum needs to be flash-pasteurized, which is a low heat process (the milk you buy at the store is pasteurized at high heat, which destroys bioactivity). Ideally, you would like to see a minimum of 25% immunoglobins, 4-5% PRPs, 1.5% IGF-1, and 1.5% lactoferrin.
Dr. Tang recommends Colostrum LD, which uses a proprietary Liposomal Enhanced Delivery (LD) system that makes its components up to 1,500% more bioavailable. LD is a microcoating on every colostrum particle that mimics the naturally produced cell membrane, protecting the active components and ensuring that they reach the gut intact and bioavailable. Additionally, Colostrum LD is obtained from pasture-fed dairy cows that are healthy and certified free from BST, BSE, and antibiotics; it’s also GMP, Kosher, and Halal certified. Colostrum LD is tested for quality, efficacy, and safety in an FDA-licensed facility.
Supplementing with colostrum is generally considered safe, with no significant health risks or side effects reported. This is in contrast to some other natural treatments; for example, treating plant-related allergies with herbal supplements can be tricky. In order to determine whether supplementing with colostrum is right for you, it’s important to first look at your current health, what prescription and non-prescription medications or supplements you’re taking, and your current vitamin levels. A one-on-one consultation with Dr. Tang is the perfect way to get started. To make your appointment, call Rejuvé today at 408-740-5320.