What is Colostrum- Composition and Benefits

What is Colostrum- Composition and Benefits

  • Colostrum is a breast fluid produced by humans, cows, and other mammals before breast milk is released. It is the first form of milk (called as “first milk”) produced by the mammary glands of humans and other mammals immediately following delivery of the newborn.
  • It may be called beestings when referring to the first milk of a cow or similar animal.
  • It’s very nutritious and contains high levels of antibodies, which are proteins that fight infections and bacteria, and immune and growth factors and other bioactive that help to activate a newborn’s immune system. The bioactives found in colostrum are essential for a newborn’s health, growth and vitality.
  • Colostrum promotes growth and health in infants and newborn animals, but bovine colostrum supplements may promote immunity, help fight infections, and improve gut health throughout life.

Bioactive Components in Colostrum

Colostrum delivers bioactives in a very concentrated low-volume form to immature and small digestive systems of Newborns. Colostrum contains immune cells (lymphocytes) and many antibodies such as IgA, IgG, and IgM. Apart from other immune components, a number of cytokines are found in colostrum as well.

Colostrum also contains a number of growth factors, such as insulin-like growth factors I (IGF-1), and II, transforming growth factors alpha, beta 1 and beta 2, fibroblast growth factors, epidermal growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, and colony-stimulating factor-1 etc.

Bovine colostrum & Human consumption

Bovine colostrum and human colostrum are very similar in their makeup, both containing many of the same antibodies, immune and growth factors, and other nutrients. The benefit of bovine colostrum for human health are:

  • Immune health: Colostrum contains bioactives that support immune health, including immunoglobulins, immune modulators, and oligosaccharides. These bioactives together support not only the immune system but also respiratory health in adults and children.
  • Digestive health: Colostrum is composed of bioactives that support digestive health, including immunoglobulins, growth factors, and oligosaccharides. These bioactives work together to maintain and support intestinal integrity and improve nutrient absorption, while its naturally occurring prebiotics feed beneficial bacteria and support a balanced gut in adults and children.
  • Early life nutrition: Various research has shown that colostrum has continued benefits in children over the age of one, apart from the newborn. As a component in early life nutrition, colostrum can help to support children’s immune systems, support children’s digestive health.
  • Sports nutrition: Bovine colostrum contains several bioactives that help to maintain a healthy immune system during the stress during athletic training, while supporting cellular proliferation and restitution as well as protein synthesis and soft tissue repair.

What is Colostrum

Comparison of Cattle’s colostrum & Normal Milk


Cattle’s colostrum

Normal milk

Total solids (%)



Fat (%)



Protein (%)



Casein (%)



Albumin (%)



Total immunoglobulin (mg/ml)



Lactose (%)



See also…
Milk- Milk Nutrients and Composition
Antigen and Antibody


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