WHAT IS COLOSTRUM?
Your breasts produce colostrum beginning during pregnancy and continuing through the early days of breastfeeding. This special milk is yellow to orange in color and thick and sticky. It is low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies to help keep your baby healthy. Colostrum is extremely easy to digest, and is therefore the perfect first food for your baby. It is low in volume (measurable in teaspoons rather than ounces), but high in concentrated nutrition for the newborn. Colostrum has a laxative effect on the baby, helping him pass his early stools, which aids in the excretion of excess bilirubin and helps prevent jaundice.
When your baby is breastfed early and often, your breasts will begin producing mature milk around the third or fourth day after birth. Your milk will then increase in volume and will generally begin to appear thinner and whiter (more opaque) in color. In those first few days it is extremely important to breastfeed your newborn at least 8-12 times each 24 hours and more often is even better. This allows your baby to get all the benefits of the colostrum and also stimulates production of a plentiful supply of mature milk. Frequent breastfeeding also helps prevent engorgement.
Your colostrum provides not only perfect nutrition tailored to the needs of your newborn, but also large amounts of living cells which will defend your baby against many harmful agents. The concentration of immune factors is much higher in colostrum than in mature milk.
Colostrum actually works as a natural and 100% safe vaccine. It contains large quantities of an antibody called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) which is a new substance to the newborn. Before your baby was born, he received the benefit of another antibody, called IgG, through your placenta. IgG worked through the baby’s circulatory system, but IgA protects the baby in the places most likely to come under attack from germs, namely the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs, and intestines.
Colostrum has an especially important role to play in the baby’s gastrointestinal tract. A newborn’s intestines are very permeable. Colostrum seals the holes by “painting” the gastrointestinal tract with a barrier which mostly prevents foreign substances from penetrating and possibly sensitizing a baby to foods the mother has eaten.
Colostrum also contains high concentrations of leukocytes, protective white cells which can destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
The colostrum gradually changes to mature milk during the first two weeks after birth. During this transition, the concentrations of the antibodies in your milk decrease, but your milk volume greatly increases. The disease-fighting properties of human milk do not disappear with the colostrum. In fact, as long as your baby receives your milk, he will receive immunological protection against many different viruses and bacteria.
A HISTORY OF COLOSTRUM
The history of bovine colostrum use is an old as history itself. In England and Scandinavia, colostrum is a traditional tonic and folk remedy given to entire family to keep them healthy for entire year. This first milking of a cow following a calving is traditionally made into a pudding called “beestings” to celebrate the birth and promote good health.
Ayurvedic medicine has used colostrum for thousands of years in India where it continues to be widely used today. Cows are considered to be gods in India. According to old texts, the colostrum also was used by the Ancient Egyptians. Masai tribesmen in Kenya drink bovine colostrum by the liter because they know how good it is for them. They are well-known for their toughness under extreme conditions and their health constitutions. Cows are considered their most important form of wealth, and they even sing songs of praise to colostrum as recognition for the benefits they get from it.
When Antony van Leeuwenhoek, Dutch inventor of the microscope and discoverer of bacteria, red blood cells and protozoa – first peered through his new invention, he was looking at milk. Albert Sabin, the inventor of the oral polio vaccine, also used antibodies properties from bovine Colostrum.
Prior to 1950, colostrum was intensively studied and used for its immune boosting powers and as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. UNFORTUNATELY, with the advent of sulfa drugs, cheap antibiotics and other synthetic drugs, interest waned in natural remedies. The benefits of colostrum were largely lost for over 40 years.
Germany army also used colostrum during World War II to treat injured army.
Prior to 1980, colostrum was harvested in North America from buffalo and goats. But, after 1980s era, bovine or cows colostrum was harvested for mass market.
In 2007, the world largest supplier for colostrum has started selling patented colostrum product – The Alpha Lipid Lifeline. This product was derived from the highest grade of colostrum, taken from selective cows in New Zealand. This colostrum product blended together with good bacteria’s that you can found in Yakult product and also comes with vitamins and minerals. You might see a lot of colostrum product in the market, but you won’t find grade-10 colostrum in the market other than Alpha Lipid Lifeline!
- A new born baby has a very small stomach, which can only take small amounts, and colostrum is provided in small amounts.
- It is a concentrated (high in nutrients) liquid that is made especially for a baby’s needs.
- Colostrum encourages the occurrence of baby’s first bowel movement, clearing the digestive tract of meconium (first dark stool).
- Colostrum also contains many antibodies and growth factors. The growth factors promote development of a baby’s digestive system and the antibodies promote the immune system.
- It contains immunoglobulin A, which is an antibody that protects the baby against infections of the throat, lungs and intestines.
- It contains protective white cells, which help destroy disease causing bacteria and viruses.
- It contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Protection of the gut lining.
WHY SHOULD PEOPLE TAKE COLOSTRUM?
Taking a colostrum supplement has shown to be beneficial for your immune system and in athletic performance.
There are two main areas where colostrum has shown to be useful for humans:
- To support your immune system
- For Athletic Performance.
Taking a daily colostrum supplement can help your immune system stay at its normal levels to fight off infection and disease. It has even been suggested that colostrum is an effective and practical solution to help your body maintain its natural immune system against influenza episodes. This is due to the high number of immune supporting compounds and substances that occur naturally in colostrum including lactoferrin.
Some of these substances, like IGF-1, Lactoferrin, and Lactoperoxidase, can be sufficient in a low concentration to support normal immune protection and provide nonspecific defense. Lactoferrin, a natural defense protein that is found in secretions like saliva, is particularly important because of its antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
Colostrum can play an important role in intestinal and stomach health. In many instances influenza begins in the intestinal tract and it is here where colostrum provides support by providing in-situ protection. It is already documented that colostrum is used to help combat chronic diarrhea in HIV infection and diarrhea caused by rotavirus infection in children.
When taken consistently, colostrum provides immune support to help your body against infection resulting in fewer influenza episodes.
Whether you are a committed athlete or a weekend warrior, if you are looking to build lean muscle mass, improve performance or recover from training, then colostrum powder is an ideal supplement for you. Due to the strenuous nature of exercise, in order to see the best results from colostrum supplementation you will need to have a daily intake of 20 g consecutively for 8 weeks. Colostrum is especially suited to distance athletes who favour lean muscle mass and performance- this includes triathletes, runners, kayakers, cross-country skiers, and anyone else engaged in an activity that requires high anaerobic power.
In one study conducted in highly conditioned cyclists, a comparison was made in the performance of groups supplemented with 20 g colostrum, 60 g whey protein powder, and 20 g colostrum with 40 g whey protein powder. The greatest increase in endurance was seen in the group supplemented with both colostrum and whey protein.
It’s not just the increase in performance that makes colostrum an attractive supplement option; it’s the ability of it to help your body recover from exercise.
Studies suggest that colostrum can help your body recover and get back to your previous performance levels after just 20 minutes.
One of the most interesting potential benefits of colostrum supplementation is that it may have a role in preventing heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs partly due to the increased intestinal permeability of toxins brought on by heavy exercise – basically your body has to process more toxins than it normally does. Bovine colostrum has been shown to reduce the permeability in the gut brought on by heavy exercise.
USES OF COLOSTRUM
- Athletic performance. Developing research suggests that bovine colostrum might increase athletic performance for many, but not all, athletic activities. Activities that seem to benefit are jumping and bicycle sprints, but not running on a treadmill, rowing, or resistance training.
- Inflammation of the colon (colitis). There is some early evidence that a rectal enema containing 10% bovine colostrum might be helpful for treating colitis.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS). Some early evidence shows that taking hyperimmune bovine colostrum by mouth for 4 weeks does not relieve symptoms of MS. However, other early evidence shows that taking anti-measles bovine colostrum by mouth for 30 days may improve symptoms of MS.
- Upper respiratory tract infection, including the common cold and flu (influenza). Early research suggests that taking bovine colostrum for 8 weeks can reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections in young, physically active males.
- Stimulating the immune system.
- Healing injuries.
- Repairing nervous system damage.
- Burning fat.
- Building lean muscle.
- Increasing stamina and vitality.
- Elevating mood and sense of well-being.
- Slowing and reversing aging.
- Bacterial and fungal infections.
- Other conditions.
- More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of colostrum for these uses.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON COLOSTRUM SIDE EFFECTS?
Colostrum is a milky substance that is typically excreted from the milk-producing glands of cows and other mammals for several days after they have given birth, and its excretion usually stops when the mammary glands begin to produce true milk. The colostrum from cows, or bovine colostrum, is a natural food that some people drink for its health-promoting effects, despite the chance of colostrum side effects.
Bovine colostrum side effects do not develop in all users, but the most common colostrum side effects include mild nausea and flatulence. Some infectious agents may be passed from infected cows into bovine foods products, and the pathogen that causes bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE), or mad cow disease, has also been linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans.
In some cases, children and people with weak immune systems take bovine colostrum to treat infectious diarrhea. Athletes have used bovine colostrum to enhance their performance in some instances. Rectal enemas made with bovine colostrum may be beneficial in treating colon inflammation disorders such as colitis. Bovine colostrum has been used by some people who want to improve lean muscle mass, slow the aging process or increase stamina. Researchers have generally found insufficient scientific evidence to support most bovine colostrum uses, and they continue to study colostrum side effects.
Some cows have developed bovine spongiform encephalitis from a pathogen known as a prion. Bovine spongiform encephalitis typically causes damage to the brains and central nervous systems of infected cattle. Products from cattle infected with BSE may cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, but a link between this infectious disease and colostrum side effects is not clear in many cases.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease causes several symptoms that may include rapid development of dementia or delirium, problems with coordination and muscle twitching. Hallucinations, confusion and changes in personality have been reported by some patients with this disorder. Speech impairment and sleepiness may also occur with CJD. The rapid development of symptoms makes it unlikely that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease can be confused with dementia disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease that tend to develop more gradually.
Physicians often use patient symptoms and an examination of mental functioning and motor skills as they diagnose Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain, spinal taps and blood tests may be used to confirm a diagnosis of this condition. This disease is usually not curable, although interleukin medications may slow the progression of the disorder. In some instances, custodial care can be helpful for patients with declining mental functioning from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Many people with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease become incapable of caring for themselves within six months of the onset of symptoms. Death typically occurs within eight months of the appearance of symptoms, although a few people have lived for one to two years with his condition. Heart failure, respiratory failure and infection are possible complications of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease that can contribute to a patient’s declining health.