Unlocking the Nutrient Powerhouse: Colostrum Explained

Written by: Christine VanDoren, nutritionist

Fact checked by: Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

Unlocking the Nutrient Powerhouse: Colostrum Explained

Colostrum is a form of breastmilk that is initially released by the mammary glands after a woman gives birth. It is rich in naturally occurring nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin K, and protein. 

Because colostrum is so nutrient-dense and can provide numerous benefits for the body, it has been made available as a supplement. The supplement form of colostrum is referred to as bovine colostrum, and it is sourced from cow udders after a female cow has given birth.

Keep reading to learn exactly what taking bovine colostrum can do to see if regular supplementation is right for you!

Colostrum and Immunity

A wonderful aspect of colostrum is its capacity to deliver immune system protection. It does this in a number of ways.


A hallmark of colostrum is its immunoglobulin content, like secretory IgA. Immunoglobulins are a type of protein that helps support immunity.

Secretory Immunoglobulin A exists in colostrum in great amounts and is an integral part of the fabric of immune defense. You’ll want to have a great source of IgA in your regimen because this immunoglobulin acts as the first defense.

IgA is like a protective force in the gastrointestinal tract, thus keeping the system working efficiently by allowing healthful, beneficial guests into the party while keeping uninvited guests on the outside.

Magnesium Content

Additionally, colostrum contains naturally occurring magnesium, which nurtures the heart and bones and is vital for health. This mineral exerts positive effects on neurological and vascular functions for the heart and circulatory system, which allows it to exert positive effects on neuronal and vascular functions.

On a cellular level, all cells need magnesium to be biologically active, which is the basis of its advantageous impact on the brain, heart, and other organs.

Copper and Zinc Content

Colostrum also contains copper and zinc for immunity. Zinc is a major player in the health of the immune system and gastrointestinal tract because it has a role in the maturing of the intestines.

Like zinc, copper is essential and protects the cells from oxidative stress. Colostrum contains naturally occurring amounts of copper, which is important as copper supports iron absorption within the body.

Additionally, copper helps to nurture bone structures.

Colostrum Supplements

This is the first milk a cow produces, and it is often used as a supplement to encourage optimal gut health. 

Like human colostrum, bovine colostrum contains immunoglobulins and other proteins like casein and whey, as well as carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. However, a notable difference between bovine and human colostrum is the large proportion of protein in bovine colostrum compared to that of a human.

Thus, bovine colostrum, while not human milk, still provides nutrients and encourages cell growth and immune modulation. One factor that would prevent using bovine colostrum as a supplement, however, would be an allergy to cow’s milk.

Potential Benefits of Colostrum Supplements

Supports a Healthy Microbiome

Supplementing with bovine colostrum can support a healthy gut microbiome. Colostrum can help colonize the good and healthy bacteria into the system.

Another benefit is that the type of immunoglobulin in bovine colostrum, called IgG, can fend off environmental threats that can trouble the immune system.

Can Promote Healthy Gut Function

Bovine colostrum can also be used to support gut function. The colostrum can protect the cells in the gut while providing immune-supporting effects. This can allow you to establish regular bowel movements.

There has been research centered on the use of bovine colostrum supplementation in various ages, with colostrum being supplemented in sports medicine to sustain the health of athletes.

It can be utilized in aging populations to help drive immune responses and keep the elderly feeling healthy with optimized immune functions. It may also improve muscle capacity during exercise and support cognitive function in older adults.


In all, it’s important to focus on how beneficial colostrum is. It is filled with proteins, hormones, and antioxidants. 

Colostrum can be a beneficial supplement for adults as well, particularly in regard to immunity.


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