It seems like every other week, there’s some new superfood or supplement on the market that touts itself as the cure-all to people’s health problems. For a while there, it seemed like everyone ate acai, then CBD was everywhere, and then it was spirulina or activated charcoal, then IV drips were all the rage, and now we’re seeing a rise in adaptogenic mushrooms, among other functional foods.
However, if you’ve ever tested out some of the more fleeting fads, you’ll know that they’re quite ineffective or produce such minimal results that you’re better off just spending that money on higher quality grocery choices.
When I started reading up on colostrum, however, I realized that this supplement isn’t just some fad or a waste of money. It’s a powerful, whole food nutrition source and a supplement grounded in time-tested wisdom that could boost your bodily functions naturally – no whacky ingredients necessary. Here’s why I started taking bovine colostrum every day, and why you may want to give it a shot as well.
Let’s Learn a Bit About Liquid Gold
Bovine colostrum comes from the first milk a milking cow releases, which contains immunoglobulins for protecting her calf from disease and provides innate immunity. Breast milk is formed in a woman’s body (or a cow, in this case!) in three stages: toward the end of her third trimester to the first few days after birth, she produces colostrum, then after her newborn properly latches, she produces transitional milk, and then further down the line, the breast milk is considered mature.
The primary role of colostrum is to immunomodulate an infant’s developing bodily systems and provide this vulnerable being’s first shield against the elements. As such, a good deal of Western research on colostrum’s health benefits has been for use in infancy. As more knowledge of colostrum’s potential power has spread, many more studies have been conducted showing how both sick and healthy adults can benefit from supplementing with the cow equivalent.
Commonly referred to as “liquid gold,” cow colostrum is packed with bioactive compounds, meaning that it produces physiological effects on your body beyond just the known nutritional properties. In particular, bovine colostrum has been found to provide humans with beneficial proteins, immunoglobulins, nucleotides, prebiotics, enzymes, and growth factors that give it nutraceutical value.
What this means is that, among many trendy “health foods,” bovine colostrum actually stands a better chance at improving your immune response, your gastrointestinal system, your respiratory system, and your exercise performance and recovery. Indeed, liquid gold has been shown to prevent upper respiratory tract infections and viral influenza, counter persistent immunosuppression, reduce many types of inflammation, lessen bacterial growth (including H. pylori, one of the most widespread human pathogens that can last for a lifetime and result in cancer), and potentially improve sexual function for women.
Bovine colostrum can help improve your immune response, gastrointestinal system, respiratory system, and exercise performance and recovery.
“Colostrum works by strengthening the immune barriers along the entire inside surface of the body, our first line of defense against everything inhaled and ingested from the outside world,” said Dr. Rahal, a board-certified neurologist and founder of her own colostrum company, ARMRA, in an interview earlier this year. “This creates a tight seal that guards against the everyday environmental toxins and pollutants that can threaten health and drive inflammation, the underlying root of almost all modern diseases.”
Colostrum contains fatty acids beneficial to cardiovascular health. Additionally, it’s rich in fat soluble vitamins (A, E, D, K, B-complex) and minerals (calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, iron, manganese, zinc) – many of which consumers tend to buy as over-the-counter supplement pills to add to their growing medicine cabinet.
When you buy a bovine colostrum product, you’re typically getting spray-dried or freeze-dried liquid gold because, if improperly processed or pasteurized at the wrong temperature, the bioavailability of all those beneficial bits plummets. Look for colostrum supplements that haven’t been exposed to synthetic hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides.
While some critics may claim that the multi-faceted health benefits of bovine colostrum are just “bull,” there’s really no harm done by simply trying it out for yourself and seeing how you fare. It’s considered to be a fully-safe substance, and unless you’re severely lactose intolerant, even if you take high doses, there are very few known side effects. And, if you’re worried about allergies, you could look into goat colostrum.
Let me be clear – though I’m fondly calling it liquid gold, there’s no such thing as a miracle product that will magically cure all your ills. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is no different from a modern-day snake oil salesman. But, there’s a good reason why Ayurvedic medicine has used this nutrient-dense substance for thousands of years.
What’s the Tried and True Way To Take Bovine Colostrum?
If I’m to be completely honest with you, I take my bovine colostrum supplement like an egg-slonker downs their raw eggs. Twice a day (typically ahead of breakfast and dinner), I’ll scoop one dose into my mouth, chew it a bit, and swallow. It’s as though you’re consuming a dry powder that becomes a bit gelatinous and sticky, so if you’re highly sensitive to food textures, I suggest you don’t go my route.
However, powdered colostrum outside a capsule is your best bet for capitalizing on the bioavailable compounds, so I’d still recommend you go capsule-free. You can put colostrum in smoothies, shakes, coffee, lattes, tea, oatmeal, yogurt, cottage cheese, or even just mix it with water. Some people even apply colostrum topically for skincare or wound care, but the research is much more limited.
I find bovine colostrum to be more accessible and adaptable to my own daily routine. Though I’d never advise someone to outright give up the vitamins and supplements they have found personal benefits using, I will say that I’ve happily switched to using bovine colostrum twice a day as a replacement for the supplement pills I used to take. I’m all about simplifying processes and reducing clutter – particularly in daily routines – so a more inherent “multi-vitamin” fits well in my own self-care practices.
Dr. Rahal’s company ARMRA has a wide range of concentrated colostrum powders that you can buy in convenient stick packs or in a bulk jar. What’s particularly appealing about ARMRA is that there are also fruity flavors (watermelon or orange) which can conceal colostrum’s otherwise whey-like, dairy taste. One box of stick packs is $49.99, which comes out to 30 servings. ARMRA uses grass-fed cows from family dairy farms and is certified non-GMO, glyphosate-free, and free from soy, gluten, and sugar.
If you’re looking for a bit more bang for your buck, I’d highly recommend TBR Labs’s 100% pure, unflavored colostrum powder. At $52.99, you get 132 servings, and each scoop contains 1500mg of ethically-sourced bovine colostrum from US Grade A lactating dairy cows. It’s somewhat thick and has a pretty neutral, whey-like flavor, but I don’t find the taste to be off-putting whatsoever. This is my go-to for keeping costs down while still reaping all the benefits of colostrum.
A more premium option is Elm & Rye’s colostrum powder. At $69.99, you get 30 servings of unflavored colostrum from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows that are hormone and antibiotic-free. A solid choice for someone who isn’t looking to go the powder route is Ancestral Supplements’ colostrum capsules. For $61.20, you get 30 servings at 3000mg of grass-fed, grass-finished unflavored colostrum that’s non-GMO, pasture-raised in Australia and New Zealand.
Are There Actually Realistic Results I Can Expect?
Though I think my trial period to fully tout personal testimony for bovine colostrum hasn’t been long enough, I do feel as though I’ve seen some positive changes to my overall wellness that may or may not be attributed to supplementing liquid gold. Let me also note that I haven’t changed my diet nor started taking any additional vitamins or supplements since beginning daily colostrum. In fact, I’ve nixed all other pills and potions in the process.
Gaining gastrointestinal benefits from bovine colostrum was one of my three areas of interest when I started out. Historically, I haven’t had the smoothest digestive system. Over the years, I’ve reduced the amount of glutinous carbs I eat in an effort to make myself more regular and prevent pesky bloating. Despite my best efforts, I still just seem to have a picky digestive system. I tried supplementing magnesium pills, which got me started taking zinc pills (because apparently you need the latter to reap the best benefits of the former), and never saw any changes.
Remember how I mentioned the potent levels of magnesium and zinc which are naturally occurring in colostrum? I have no definitive proof and can only rely on my anecdotal evidence, but that, along with its other GI-friendly properties, could have contributed to my improved digestive system. I’m not kidding around when I say I’m noticeably more regular, and my stomach feels flatter and less bloated than it often used to be. Is it a night-and-day, stark difference? No. Is it enough to make me want to continue using colostrum? Yes.
I also wanted to explore bovine colostrum use because I’ve got some puzzling allergies. Doctors can’t pinpoint exactly what it is I’m allergic to, but my allergies have caused persistent sinus issues over the years and inner-ear eczema. Given colostrum’s suggested use to combat inflammation, serve as an antibody for infection, and reduce respiratory symptoms, I thought supplementation could help me gain some allergy relief.
As of right now, I don’t have strong anecdotal evidence to suggest it has made a major impact. Yet, at the same time, I’ve noticed that my inner-ear eczema hasn’t been acting up quite as much as it has in the past, and my sinuses don’t feel so easily triggered by the elements. Could that be the result of weather changes? Perhaps, but I don’t live in a particularly capricious climate here in coastal Southern California. We don’t exactly get seasons, after all.
Fitness communities have used colostrum for quite some time to support lean muscle mass, decrease recovery time, and improve physical performance.
The other primary selling point that interested me with bovine colostrum is its potential effect on body composition. Fitness communities have used colostrum for quite some time to support lean muscle mass, decrease recovery time, and improve physical performance. Exercise isn’t a chore for me, it’s something I look forward to and seek out daily to keep myself looking good and feeling sane. My typical workouts will either be strength training at the gym or very long hot girl walks.
Though I’m not looking to boost my athletic performance for competition or anything, I do appreciate regular exercise for its physical effects on my body composition. I mean, maintaining a healthy body fat to lean muscle mass ratio is your ticket for a naturally sexier physique – no procedures needed. Have I been recovering better after workouts? Honestly, I haven’t noticed much of a change.
Does my muscle tone look any different? I will say that I have been loving more light cardio, and as such, perhaps my body fat percentage has dropped, but I have noticed lately, on my shoulders in particular, that the muscle tone has been looking cutely capped. I’m no Sarah Connor in Terminator, but it’s worth me noting that my shoulders look more naturally (but still femininely) capped despite not changing how I do upper-body weightlifting these days. Again, this very well could be due to cardio.
As the saying goes, let food be thy medicine. Holistic medicine is a great way to support your health but cannot be a 1:1 replacement for all allopathic medicine. However, God, or whatever force of nature you personally believe in, functions as the original chemist before mankind began tinkering with different compounds. Natural products like colostrum were tailored to provide a powerful dose of innate wellness to growing newborns.
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