Colostrum or “first milk” is a completely natural secretion produced by the mammary glands of mammals after giving birth. While this sounds a bit off to be a dietary supplement, it’s important to remember that all animal milk (including cow’s milk) is simply a secretion from the mammary gland.
Colostrum is unique from traditional milk however as it provides significantly higher levels of things such as growth factors which can increase newborn growth, as well as more antibodies that help improve newly developing and immature immune systems.
What it does
While many companies who sell colostrum claim it will significantly impact weight loss, lean mass, and strength, the reality is that developed digestive systems are designed to prevent absorption of the large growth factors and peptides provided in this substance, meaning that they get broken down in the gut and are basically unusable. As such, the majority of studies available show little to no weight changes while using colostrum.
Not surprisingly, due to its similarity in composition to whey protein, colostrum has been shown to increase lean muscle mass, however not to a significantly greater degree than whey protein alone. Despite the adult digestive tract being unable to absorb growth factors and peptides found in colostrum, it is interesting to note that when 20g was consumed for 2 weeks in healthy adults, IGF-1 levels increased by 17% and IgA by 33%.
How it works
Colostrum contains extremely high levels of growth factors, enzymes, and antibodies which are designed to enter the bloodstream of underdeveloped digestive tracts helping to fuel muscle and bone growth in infants. In adults, these compounds are unable to be absorbed through the stomach lining, and as such cannot be utilized. Despite this, however, colostrum is rich in amino acids and as such provides similar results to traditional whey protein which include lean muscle mass growth via increased muscle protein synthesis and mTOR.
Those supplementing with colostrum should aim for 20-60g per day, split into 1-3 20g doses. Users can consume their doses on their own, or mix them into things such as their daily protein shakes. The timing of these doses (such as pre and post workout) should not increase or decrease efficacy.