Colostrum Supplements: Health Benefits and Risks

The short answer is: It’s too early to tell. “The research on the benefits of colostrum supplements has had varied results, and most studies involved small sample sizes, making it difficult to know if the results would apply to the general population,” says Alsing. All the studies advise that further research is needed. With that caveat in mind, some early evidence that seems promising points out the following health benefits of colostrum supplements.

They Could Offer Immune Support

Considering that colostrum contains antibodies, which are proteins that are a vital part of the body’s immune defense, it makes sense that one of the major claims about colostrum supplements is that they support immunity.

One review of research notes that the supplements may help boost the immune system in both healthy and sick populations, but it focuses on pediatric populations and mentions that there is little evidence to support similar claims in adults. The authors also note that there aren’t enough well-designed studies conducted on humans to support taking such a supplement yet.

 Another review of research found it helped to prevent illness in preterm infants.

Not every study shows promising results. “A study including children diagnosed with leukemia who took bovine colostrum showed no effect on fever, infections, or inflammatory markers,” says Alsing.

They Might Help With Gastrointestinal Issues

Many influencers on TikTok praise the purported ability of colostrum supplements to help with gastrointestinal (GI) issues, whether that’s bloating, gas, or more gastrointestinal disorders. While bovine colostrum has been used effectively for these purposes in small studies, however, larger scale research is needed.

One review found that human trials showed “substantial evidence” that bovine colostrum may help ease inflammatory bowel disease and infectious diarrhea, although it did go on to say that further work is needed to define colostrum’s role in therapy.

In another review, researchers noted that bovine colostrum helped reduce intestinal permeability in both sick and healthy subjects.

Too much intestinal permeability is often referred to as a “leaky gut” and some people with gastrointestinal diseases have leaky guts (though the term “leaky gut syndrome” is still considered a hypothetical condition).

They Might Help Athletes Recover

Colostrum supplements are often marketed to athletes because some research points to bovine colostrum’s potential benefits for intense exercisers. “One study involving 28 football players taking bovine colostrum supplements found that inflammation was reduced after exercise,” says Alsing, “but it did not lead to improved exercise performance.”

 Also, a review of research found that there was some evidence that bovine colostrum might have benefits on physical performance (particularly in helping the body recover from demanding exercise), but the biggest benefits were seen in protecting against exercise-induced gut permeability (circling back to its potential leaky gut benefits), although the study author notes that more research needs to be conducted.

Their Lactoferrin May Help Improve Your Overall Health

A specific kind of protein called lactoferrin is present in colostrum supplements, and according to one review of research, it’s a “miracle molecule” with antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant, and immunostimulatory properties (just to name a few perks).

 The study authors conclude that lactoferrin may play a key role in maintaining health from fetal life to old age. One study also points to lactoferrin’s potential to prevent the pro-inflammatory pathway activation (the type of inflammation that can lead to harmful health effects in the body).

 Another study found that lactoferrin reduces inflammation in pregnant mothers and their fetus, and could have therapeutic value in regards to COVID-19.

 Other research has looked at bovine lactoferrin and its impact on stress-related diseases, with researchers noting it has the potential to be used as a therapy for treatment.

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