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Bovine Colostrums is the pre-milk liquid produced from the mammary
glands of cows during the first 24 to 48 hours after giving birth.
Bovine Colostrum is rich in immunoglobulins (antibodies), growth
factors, various proteins, and enzymes. The question regarding bovine
Colostrum is whether these factors, which are meant for the calf,
exert any effects in humans.
Bovine Colostrum may turn out to be an important
nutritional supplement, but for now there are no conclusive data
to support manufacturers' claims.
Although various components of bovine colostrum theoretically may
produce some benefits, there are no studies where bovine colostrum—in
the forms that are commercially available—has been given to
humans and shown benefits.
It has been claimed that bovine colostrum can help fight certain
infections. However, the research studies used to support that claim
used colostrum derived from cows immunized in a way that caused them
to produce unusually large amounts of a specific antibody in their
colostrum. For example, in a double-blind study, children with diarrhea
caused by a rotavirus were treated with immunoglobulins extracted
from colostrum, derived from cows immunized with rotavirus. Compared
with the placebo, administration of the immunoglobulins significantly
reduced the amount of diarrhea and the amount of oral rehydration
solution required. In addition, the rotavirus was eliminated from
the stool significantly more rapidly in the immunoglobulin group
than in the placebo group.
Bovine colostrum contains bovine versions
of many human growth factors, including insulin-like growth factor,
transforming growth factor, epithelial growth factor, and even
growth hormone, that are capable of stimulating muscle growth.
The concentration of bovine insulin-like growth factor I (ILGF-I)
in colostrum ranges from 200 to 2,000 mcg/L, compared with less
than 10 mcg/L in normal cow’s milk. Thus,
in theory, bovine colostrum might be able to stimulate muscle growth
in humans. However, although bovine ILGF-I has been shown to be identical
to human ILGF-I in some analytical studies and to be absorbed and
transported into the circulation in calves, the effects of bovine
ILGF-I and other bovine growth substances in humans after oral administration,
has not been determined in clinical trials.
In a preliminary study of male athletes, supplementation
with 125 ml of colostrum per day for eight days produced a statistically
significant increase in the serum concentration of insulin-like growth
factor. However, the magnitude of the increase was small, and the
clinical significance of that change is not clear. Thus, claims that
bovine colostrum can help burn fat and promote muscle growth by raising
the level of ILGF-I or other molecules must be considered premature.