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Colostrum; Composition, Characteristics and Health Benefits

Colostrum is a milk that yellowish color, salty taste, thick consistency and mammals secrete for the first 24-48 hours after birth. The composition of colostrum is quite different compared to milk and unlike milk, it contains many molecules that are extremely useful for the health of the offspring.

Colostrum contains nutritional molecules such as protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals as well as high amounts of biologically active molecules necessary for the immune and growth functions of the body

Colostrum contains high amounts of special substances such as immunoglobulins, growth factors, antibodies, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids that prepare the body against the attack of different microorganisms and environmental toxins that prepare the body.

Research shows that newborn mammals need colostrums not only to build immune systems in the first 24 hours of their lives but also to support optimal metabolic functions. It is thought to initiate approximately 50 different processes in infants.

Scientists report that a safe alternative to human colostrum is cow colostrum. The immune and growth factors in the cow’s are the same as in almost human’ colostrum’s and immune factors in cow colostrum are 4 times higher than in human colostrum.

In recent studies, it was found that cow colostrum includes protease inhibitors that protect immunoglobulins from the destruction of human digestive system enzymes. In a study conducted in Amsterdam in 1975, it was reported that cow colostrum contained glycoproteins that protect them from damage to digestive acids in the human stomach.

Composition of Colostrum

Colostrum has more dry substances, fat and lean dry substances, protein and most importantly immunoglobulin (Ig) than milk. While the rate of dry matter in a normal cow’s milk is around 12 %, this ratio is around 22-28 % in colostrum. On the other hand, the lactose ratio is lower than in normal milk.

Colostrum is also a rich source of vitamins A, D, E, B12 and minerals. In the colostrum, there are energy sources in the form of fat and sugar, which protect body temperature, there are also trypsin inhibitors and protein particles that facilitate Ig absorption that prevents the destruction of Igs in the intestine.

Comparison of colostrum and milk (gram/liter)

Dry matter (%)14,1-23,912,6
Fat (%)3,9-6,73,7
Fat-free dry matter (%)9,8-16,79,6
Total protein (%)5,1-14,03,4
Lactose (%)3,3-4,74,7
Mineral (%)0,81-1,030,74
Ig (%)2,4-6,00,09

Essentially, the highest quality colostrum is milked immediately after birth. Its quality is gradually decreasing in the advancing milking. Although this process varies from animal to animal, it usually takes place between 24 hours and 48 hours.

The two most important components in colostrum are immune and growth factors.

Immune Factors

Immune factors are substances that reduce the effect of bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and microorganisms that cause some diseases, protect the body from diseases and help the body.

While some immune factors have very specific functions, such as stimulating the production of a certain process or active substance in the body, others protect the entire immune system or an important part of it.

It is the only food ingredient that provides these preventive and protective factors. The most important and common immune factors found in colostrum are immunoglobulins and antibodies.

Immunoglobulins; are the primary active ingredients in bovine colostrum. Immunoglobulins provide superior protection in both the treatment and prevention of viral and bacterial infections and allergies.

There are 5 types of immunoglobulins in colostrum; IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG and IgM. Bovine colostrum contains mostly IgG and small amounts of IgA, IgD, IgE and IgM. While human colostrum contains 2% of IgG in immunoglobulins, cow colostrum contains 38%.

Immunoglobulin concentration (gram/liter)


IgG; is used in the treatment of diseases such as infectious diarrhea, anemia, chicken pox, chronic fatigue syndrome, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, neutropenia and systemic lupus.

Antibodies; is stated in the literature that colostrum contains specific antibodies against more than 192 pathogens such as Rotavirus, H.pylori, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, Candida, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and E.coli.

Proline-Rich Polypeptide PRP; supports the weakened immune system and helps regulate the thymus gland, which produces T-cells. It also has a critical role in autoimmune disorders by supporting the immune system defense and softening the reaction that defines these disorders.

Lactoferrin; is a protein-bound with iron and has natural antibacterial and antiviral effects. It protects the body against candida, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV, herpes and other infections.

Cytokines; although cytokines are cancer-fighting agents, they are substances that have antiviral properties and regulate the duration and intensity of the immune response.

Glycoproteins and Trypsin Inhibitors; glycoproteins and trypsin inhibitors protect immune and growth factors in colostrum from damage in the intestinal tract and gastric juice.

Oligosaccharides and Glycoconjugates; Are sugars that bind to and act against various pathogens, protecting them from penetrating and acting on the intestinal mucous membrane.

Other immune factors found in bovine colostrum; Lysozymes that protect the body from bacterial infections, -2-AP glycoprotein, – 1 antitrypsin, -1- fetoprotein, -2-macroglobulin albumin, lactoglobulin, -2-microglobulin, C3, C4, enzymes, hemopexin, haptoglobin, lactoperoxidase, orosomucoids, oratic acid and preal-bumin.

Growth Factors

The primary effects of growth factors are;

– Increasing the healing effect by building,

– Protecting and repairing bone, muscles, nerves and cartilage,

– Stimulating fat metabolism,

– Balancing blood sugar levels and

– Helping to regulate brain chemicals that control mood.

Growth factors also help slow the signs of aging, reduce wrinkles and make the skin look younger.

Growth factors concentration (gram/liter)

Growth FactorColostrumMilk
IGF I50-2000<10
IGF II200-600<10
TGF 1trace4,3
TGF 2tracetrace

Insulin-like Growth Factors 1 and II; IGF I and IGF II are the most abundant growth factors in colostrum. These factors are effective in how the body uses fat, protein and sugar to stimulate the immune system, support cell regeneration and help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Transfer Growth Factor-TGF; Helps repair tissues and supports the progression of intestinal development. It shows promising results in bones and the treatment of wounds.

Epidermal Growth Factor EGF; is a protein substance used in the formation, protection and maintenance of the skin.

Fibroblast Growth Factor FGF; fulfills its auxiliary function by increasing the binding ability of insulin-like growth factors by 60-70%.

Other growth factors found in colostrum; Breast-derived growth factors can be listed as erythropoietin, taurine, ethanolamine and interferon.

Health Benefits of Colostrum

Due to the nutritional and improving properties of colostrum on offspring, as well as the immune and growth factors it contains, it can be used by people who are very young or old, have AIDS, cancer, candida, respiratory diseases and weakened immune systems.

The consumption of colostrum as a natural healing agent dates back to ancient times. Thousands of years ago, doctors and holy men in India were using cow colostrum for both physical and spiritual healing.

In America, it was used because of its natural antibiotic properties before the emergence of antibiotics. In the 1950s, doctors were frequently using colostrum in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Albert Sabin, who discovered the polio vaccine, isolated anti-polio antibodies from cow colostrum and developed a successful vaccine in 1962. After these initial studies, much research has been made around the world. Studies have given a lot of information about the healing effect of colostrum, its composition and its ability to fight diseases.

Although more research is needed in the area of ​​cancer prevention, numerous studies show promising results in the use of these agents against cancer.

In human life, after youth, the secretion of growth hormones produced by the body, which is necessary for cell reproduction and survival, decreases. It is stated that the use of colostrum together with a nutritious diet, regular exercise, reduction of stress and a regular lifestyle that includes other healthy habits protects individuals against aging and also has an effect on the reduction of skin wrinkles.

Athletes are the individuals who benefit most from colostrum. It is used by athletes in sports that require heavy training and muscle development is extremely necessary.

Colostrum is commercially available in capsule, powder, tablet and liquid form, especially in the United States, Canada, Japan and European Union countries. In addition, it can be added to kefir, yogurt and protein-containing foodstuffs.

Although there is no industrial production of bovine colostrum forms in Turkey, they can be supplied as imported. Apart from this, it is consumed locally by making desserts at calf births.

As a result, it makes us feel good, destroys disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria, accelerates healing, helps to burn fat, increases the performance of athletes and provides immunity.

Colostrum, which is a natural food for humans, can be used successfully and reliably in the treatment of many diseases and the elimination of symptoms.

Some researchers state that humans should not consume colostrum because calves need colostrum. It should not be forgotten that a cow can produce between 28 and 42 liters colostrum after birth. Studies have shown that the calf needs about 14 liters for healthy growth. When viewed from this angle, a cow can produce sufficient levels of colostrum in terms of both the calf’s health and its use as human food.

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