Liquid Gold - The rise of Bovine Colostrum Supplementation.

Written by: Kayleigh Stannard


Healf Journal

A growing trend with athletes and health enthusiasts alike. But what is Colostrum?

Written by Kayleigh Stannard, Registered Nutritional Therapist specialising in Gut Health & Digestion

Colostrum, often referred to as "liquid gold” due to its rich golden hues and potent health benefits, is the first milk produced by mothers within the initial hours after giving birth. Colostrum serves as a vital source of essential nutrients, antibodies, growth factors, and immune supporting properties to nourish and protect the new-born. 

In recent years, Bovine Colostrum (from cattle) has gained popularity as a dietary supplement for humans, with claims of a number of health benefits. In this article, we will explore the evidence-based facts surrounding Bovine Colostrum supplementation. As well as answering the golden question – how can we ensure it is ethical?

Both human and Bovine Colostrum are rich in nutrients that are crucial for health. It contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, B vitamins as well as fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K as well as including minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc. (1)

In addition, it is a potent source of:

  • Immunoglobulins, otherwise known as anti-bodies - which form part of the body’s immune response

  • Lactoferrin, an iron binding protein that has antimicrobial effects, that helps fight viruses, bacteria and infections

  • Growth factors, such as insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a hormone that supports growth

  • Additional Immune regulating compounds (2,3)

Bovine Colostrum has been found to have 100-1000 times active compounds than that of human Colostrum. (4)  

It is well documented that Colostrum contributes to the growth and development of new-born infants, however, the spotlight has recently turned to the use of Bovine Colostrum supplementation with claims of supporting the digestive system, enhancing the immune system and even improving physical performance, body composition and recovery.

The Benefits


Colostrum has been shown to have a supporting effect on gastrointestinal health. A number of beneficial properties found in colostrum are associated with the maintenance and repair of the intestinal lining. (5) 

In 2017, a small study of athletes found a significant improvement on markers relating to intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut), when supplementing 500mg Bovine Colostrum, twice daily compared with the placebo.(6) Suggesting that colostrum supplementation could contribute to gut integrity, especially in those partaking in vigorous exercise. 

Additionally, Lactoferrin may prevent infections, reduce inflammation and has prebiotic effects, promoting beneficial bacteria growth.

Colostrum supplementation may also be beneficial in reducing the severity of diarrhoea. (7)


Bovine Colostrum is abundant in immune supporting propertiess. Particularly Immunoglobulin G, a type of antibody that may help prevent and manage infections, targeting unwanted pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. (3)

A study of 35 distance runners, found a significant increase in Secretory IgA (S-IgA), (another important antibody). 12 weeks of daily supplementation resulted in a 79% increase of S-IgA. (8)

Levels of S-IgA may contribute to the trend of reduced upper respiratory illness with research suggesting Bovine Supplementation may reduce the incidence, severity and duration of respiratory illness, in both adult and children. (8,9)


IGF-1, a growth factor present in colostrum, is associated with cellular growth and repair. (10). 

Some studies suggest that colostrum supplementation may enhance exercise performance and recovery however more research into this is needed. Due to the growth factors present in Colostrum supplementation, whilst it is not banned, the world doping agency advises against competitive athletes taking Colostrum Supplementation.

So how can we be sure it is ethically sourced?

When considering Bovine Colostrum supplementation, it is important to look for reputable and trusted manufacturers who prioritise the humane treatment of animals and have full transparency, ensuring that colostrum is collected ethically and sustainably. 

In summary 

The healing power of colostrum has been around decades and with its incredible nutrient profile it is no surprise that this elixir of life may have beneficial effects beyond that of infant-hood. 

Whilst more research is needed to establish the full extent of these benefits and their use in different populations, Colostrum supplementation looks to be particularly beneficial for sporting individuals, those looking to support their immune system and improve their gut health.

We can therefore conclude that Bovine Supplementation is both safe and effective, and it is certainly something to consider if looking to support your long-term gut health and (unless you have an allergy to milk)! 


1. McGrath B.A., Fox P.F., McSweeney P.L.H., Kelly A.L. Composition and properties of bovine colostrum: A review. Dairy Sci. Technol. 2016;96:133–158. doi: 10.1007/s13594-015-0258-x.

2.  Zhao, C., Chen, N. and Ashaolu, T.J. (2023) ‘Prebiotic and modulatory evidence of lactoferrin on gut health and function’, Journal of Functional Foods, 108, p. 105741. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2023.105741. 

3. Stelwagen K., Carpenter E., Haigh B., Hodgkinson A., Wheeler T. T. (2009). Immune components of bovine colostrum and milk. J. Anim. Sci. 87, 3–9.   10.2527/jas.2008-1377 

4. Guberti M, Botti S, Capuzzo MT, Nardozi S, Fusco A, Cera A, Dugo L, Piredda M, De Marinis MG. Bovine Colostrum Applications in Sick and Healthy People: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2021; 13(7):2194. 

5. Poonia, A., Shiva Bioactive compounds, nutritional profile and health benefits of colostrum: a review. Food Prod Process and Nutr 4, 26 (2022). 

6. Hałasa M., Maciejewska D., Baśkiewicz-Hałasa M., Machaliński B., Safranow K., Stachowska E. Oral Supplementation with Bovine Colostrum Decreases Intestinal Permeability and Stool Concentrations of Zonulin in Athletes. Nutrients. 2017;9:370. doi: 10.3390/nu9040370

7. 17, Li, J., Xu, Y.-W., Jiang, J.-J., & Song, Q. (2019). Bovine colostrum and product intervention associated with relief of childhood infectious diarrhea. Scientific Reports9

8. Crooks CV, Wall CR, Cross ML, Rutherfurd-Markwick KJ. The effect of bovine colostrum supplementation on salivary IgA in distance runners. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Feb;16(1):47-64. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.16.1.47. PMID: 16676703

9 - Jones AW, Cameron SJ, Thatcher R, Beecroft MS, Mur LA, Davison G. Effects of bovine colostrum supplementation on upper respiratory illness in active males. Brain Behav Immun. 2014 Jul;39:194-203. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2013.10.032. Epub 2013 Nov 4. PMID: 24200515.

10. Saad, Khaled, et al. "Effects of bovine colostrum on recurrent respiratory tract infections and diarrhea in children." Medicine 95.37 (2016).

11. Davison G. The Use of Bovine Colostrum in Sport and Exercise. Nutrients. 2021 May 24;13(6):1789. doi: 10.3390/nu13061789. PMID: 34073917; PMCID: PMC8225123.


This article is for informational purposes only, even if and regardless of whether it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Healf