Colostrum is a milky white fluid produced by the mammary glands of mammals, including humans and cows, in the first few days after giving birth. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘first milk’, as it is produced before the true milk production begins. Bovine or cow colostrum is similar to human colostrum, rich in minerals and vitamins and high in fat for energy. It contains carbohydrate and immune enhancing proteins, as well as growth hormones and enzymes. It’s an important source of nutrients that promote growth, and fight diseases in infants, and so is essential in their first vulnerable days of life.
Some of the proteins found in colostrum are of particular importance, as they have crucial roles to play in helping to fight disease and infection as well as promoting growth. These proteins include lactoferrin, growth factors and antibodies:
- Lactoferrin is an iron binding glycoprotein involved in the body’s first immune response to infections caused by bacteria and viruses
- Growth factors are protein based hormones that stimulate growth. Bovine colostrum is particularly rich in two of these hormones, Insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and Insulin like growth factor 2 (IGF-2)
- Antibodies are proteins known as immunoglobulins (Ig’s) that fight any disease caused by bacteria and viruses, which a newborn is exposed to, as soon as it enters the environment outside of the mother’s womb. Antibody levels in colostrum can be 100 times higher than levels in regular milk. They provide the newborn with passive immunity; basically kick-starting the immune system development. Cow’s colostrum is rich in antibodies (or immunoglobulins) IgA, IgG and IgM.
Being a naturally produced liquid with its complex biological components, Colostrum, may play a significant role in human healthcare in the future. Besides providing immune support, colostrum has remarkable muscular-skeletal repair and growth capabilities as well as being able to be used to treat or prevent infections of the gastrointestinal tract. When aimed at particular consumer groups, colostrum may have many medical applications including, wound healing with practical implications for trauma and surgical patients. The growth factors found in colostrum may have multiple regenerative effects that extend to all structural body cells.
Colostrum is one of the ingredients of our Lactoferrin A2 extra product.