Colostrum for the Immune System
Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment.
Although colostrum provides a whole range of varying health benefits ranging from growth to tissue repair to gut health to brain health and mood, the effects of taking colostrum for the immune system are the most impressive ones. Colostrum supplements are typically made from the colostrum of cows called bovine colostrum which has distinct classes of bioactive compounds quite similar to those that are present in the human colostrum. These substances can deliver optimal immune health benefits not only for newborns but also for people of all ages. But how does it work? Keep reading to learn more.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the effects and benefits of using colostrum for the immune system according to the latest research findings. But before we get into how colostrum can help with immune health, we’ll need to understand the basics of the immune system first. So, let’s get started.
Table of contents
- Understanding the immune system
- What is colostrum?
- Colostrum for the immune system
- How to use colostrum supplements
- Precautions and side effects
- Final words
Understanding the immune system
The human immune system is a surprisingly effective and complex defense mechanism that plays a key role to promote optimal protection for the body. It helps protect the body from harmful foreign invaders such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and various types of environmental toxins such as pollutants, chemical compounds, pesticides, fertilizers, and so on.
The immune system comprises several lines of defenses including physical barriers, immune cells, and a wide variety of small proteins and peptides such as antibodies, all of which work cohesively as a perfect team to detect, inhibit, neutralize, destroy, and eliminate any substance that seems to be a danger to normal health and well-being.
What is colostrum?
Colostrum is the very first form of milk that lactating mothers of mammalians, including humans, start producing immediately following a baby's born, but only for a limited period of time. This earliest milk is also called pre-milk or first milk and is often considered a superfood.
Colostrum is flooded with essential biologically active components to support development, growth, and protection. It contains a wide range of immune substances such as cytokines, white blood cells, and immunoglobulin antibodies including IgA, IgG, and IgM, several growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), and insulin-like growth factors 1 and 2 (IGF 1 and 2), and a number of vital nutrients such as beta carotene, lactoferrin, mucin, various minerals and vitamins including A, D, C, E, K, and more.
Colostrum for the immune system
Colostrum and the bioactive compounds it contains help promote the immune system in many different ways. The primary class of immunoglobulin found in bovine colostrum, IgG, can play an essential role in strengthening the immune system. It has an incredible ability to prevent pathogens from binding to other healthy cells in the body. Pathogens are microorganisms that cause diseases, such as viruses, bacteria, or any type of multicellular or unicellular eukaryotes.
IgG stimulates the immune responses of macrophages, specific types of leukocytes or white blood cells, and other immune cells such as T and B cells to detect and destroy pathogens. It also plays important to recolonize probiotics, healthy or beneficial bacteria, in the gut and helps keep a healthy balance of the gut microbiome, which is vital for a healthy immune system as the highest concentration of immune cells are present in and around the gut, making it the largest organ of the entire immune system.
Moreover, IgG has the capacity to increase the production of IgA which plays a key role in local immunization. Finally, colostrum provides a lot of other small proteins such as lactoferrin, mucins, and peptides, all of which take important parts in various immune functions.
A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Nutrition showed that immunoglobulins found in bovine colostrum can provide promising benefits to support immune function in people who are immunocompromised, including various vulnerable groups especially infants, children, and elderly people.
How to use colostrum supplments
Bovine colostrum is available in various supplementary forms such as oral capsules, tablets, and powders. Doses of colostrum for the immune system are individual depending on the specific health conditions and aim of use.
However, clinicians may recommend a dose of anything between 10 to 60 per day that can be taken in several divided doses. In general, it is recommended to take 30 mins before meals or at least 2 hours after having a meal. But actual recommended doses and methods of use may vary. Work with a professional naturopath to help you determine the best possible dose.
Precautions and side effects
Colostrum has been found truly safe when taken as recommended. Side effects are very rare and uncommon. Some people may experience mild digestive upset with nausea, vomiting, and or diarrhea. People with higher sensitivity to milk or dairy products should avoid using colostrum supplements.
Besides, low-quality bovine colostrum may contain certain types of pesticides, synthetic hormones, and antibiotics depending on how cows are raised. Therefore, it’s important to choose reputed brands like Vorst from Canada to ensure colostrum supplements are properly sourced and processed so that you can avoid any types of contamination.
Colostrum is rich in nutrients, especially antibodies of immunoglobulin classes that are essential for healthy immune function. The benefits of colostrum for the immune system are huge ranging from preventing infections caused by microorganisms to reducing the severity and frequencies of allergies.
If you think your immune system needs additional support to up its responses as needed, you should definitely consider adding colostrum supplements to your regular diet regimen. Work with a qualified nutritionist or naturopath to determine your safety and best doses.