What is Bovine Colostrum?

Colostrum is the first milk produced after birth (3 to 5 days) and is a rich natural source of macro- and micro-nutrients, immunoglobulins, and peptides with anti-microbial growth factors.1 Colostrum is characterized by numerous properties capable of protecting individuals from the attack of pathogenic organisms, representing the most-known natural substance with the greatest immune-boosting effects.2 Indeed, colostrum, which contains high levels of antibody and other antimicrobial agents (e.g. lactoferrin), conveys protection to the offspring of many mammalian species, including humans, against several pathogens. The use of colostrum, in contrast to the use of the single components contained in it (e.g. lactoferrin, antibodies, growth factors) may have relevant advantages. The natural matrix in which its components are embedded can protect them from the digestion of the acidic environment of the stomach. Indeed, after ingestion, proteins and especially immunoglobulins must pass through the gastrointestinal tract and its proteolytic enzymes intact to be absorbed into the blood circulation. Fortunately, the colostrum matrix exhibits trypsin inhibiting activity. Such activity ensures the protection of the most relevant ingredients that in turn can reach the blood circulation intact. The anti-trypsin activity of colostrum depends of the species from which it is obtained. As an example, the colostrum of carnivores the anti-trypsin activity is less prominent than in ungulates (e.g. cow).3 For several reasons human colostrum (HC) cannot be easily used and commercialized and, recently, bovine colostrum (BC) has been identified as a valid alternative.

What does Bovine Colostrum contain?

Bovine Colostrum is extremely nutritious and contains more nutrients than regular milk. Moreover, the concentration of bioactive substances in BC is considerably higher than that in their human counterpart.4 The most relevant bioactive molecules contained in BC are:

  • Immunoglobulins (Ig): are molecules involved in the immune responses, they are usually known as antibodies. BC contains IgG (IgG1/IgG2), IgM, IgA, IgE and IgD. Within 24 hours after calving, 90% of BC consist of IgG, three-fourths of which, in turn, are made up exclusively of IgG1 (46.4 mg/mL). They are then followed by IgM (6.8 mg/mL) and IgA (5.4 mg/mL). Immunoglobulins, therefore, account for 70-80% of the total protein content of colostrum.5
  • Cytokines: are short chain of amino acids (peptides) that control the immune response. They are usually released by macrophages, B lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells and fibroblast. The most common cytokines identified in colostrum are IL-1β, IL-6, TNFα, INF-γ and IL-1 antagonists. They act in conjunction with other components of colostrum such as Ig, lactoferrin and lactoperoxidase.6
  • Lactoferrin: it is a protein endowed with antimicrobial activities and it has been demonstrated how lactoferrin administration has antiviral activities against different viruses, including SARS. Lactoferrin is present in BC in a concentration between 2 mg/mL and 0.5 mg/mL.7
  • Lactoperoxidase (LPO): it is an important enzyme involved in the defense immune response against bacterial infections, especially to psudomonas, coliforms, salmonella and shighella.
  • Oligosaccharides: they are a series of sugar that works as “false” receptors by preventing the binding of bacteria and viruses to intestinal cells. They also increase the activity of NK cells.8
  • Growth factors: BC contains a series of growth factors that promote growth, maturation and repair of bones, muscles, nerves, connective tissue, cartilage, skin tissue and modulate gastrointestinal mucous membrane. They are relatively stable to heat and acidic condition, therefore, they remain unaffected by digestive processes.9

What are the benefits of Bovine Colostrum?

The colostrum produced by the mother is vital to a newborn’s health in the first days of their life and researcher showed that bovine colostrum can provide significant support even for youngers, adults, and seniors. Indeed, the benefits of colostrum can extend beyond the neonatal period. The benefits of BC for human health find large application in different fields:

  • Gastrointestinal health: the bioactive molecules contained in BC support digestive health, maintaining and supporting intestinal integrity and improving nutrient absorption, while its naturally occurring prebiotics feed beneficial bacterial and support balanced gut in adults and children.10,11
  • Protection from seasonal flu: Vaccines and antiviral drugs aim at the prevention of serious consequences (hospitalization and death), especially in weaker individuals such as children, older and debilitated subjects. Since the spreading of new virus variants, together with the notion that the immune system in weaker subjects may be less responsive, classical vaccination and therapeutic approaches can be more challenging, thus requiring actions aimed at boosting the immune system of the weaker individuals.12,13
  • Protection from infection of the upper respiratory tract: acute upper respiratory infections (URTI) are one of the most common frequent diseases in industrial nations. This is mainly due to air pollution, malnutrition, and immunological deficits. Moreover, chronic stress lowers the concentration of secretory IgA in saliva. Over 80% of secreted Ig om saliva are IgA and the primary function is defense against pathogens right at the points of entry. The effect of BC on the prevention of URTI is mainly linked to the presence of immune factors available in it.14
  • Recovery: BC contains several macro- and micro-nutrients, among which growth factors, minerals, and vitamins. Thanks to this multivariate composition it supports normal physiological function, enabling the individual recover after intense physical efforts or from debilitation periods.15   

Does Colostrum have controindications and side effects?

Aside from lactose intolerance, which needs to be considered depending on the composition of the colostrum product used, there no known contraindications or adverse effects. In 51 trials with a total of 2.326 participants, rare cases of slight side effects were reported (e.g. flatulence, vomiting, etc..). Therefore, BC can be viewed as safe and well-tolerated.16,17

Are there products based on Bovine Colostrum?

Several products containing BC are nowadays available. The main differences refer to the quality of BC used, the concentration of the main bioactive molecules and the presence of other ingredients that can work synergically with colostrum. Cor.Con. International has rationally developed three different BC-based products able to reproduce the natural protective effect of colostrum in children, adults and elderly people. Indeed, the BC contained in our products has a high content of immunoglobulins Ig and growth factors. Moreover, the BC used in our products has been clinically tested, resulting effective in preventing seasonal flu and gastrointestinal diseases.

  • Colostrum: is a patented food supplement based on bovine colostrum, rationally designed to boost the immune system of adults. Colostrum is available in chewable tablets; it is recommended to take one tablet per day before the main meal.
  • Colostrum Junior:  is conceived to support the immune sytem of children. It is a patented food supplement based on a harmonized combination of bovine colostrum and specific vitamins required to support the immune function of the younger. Colostrum Junior is available in chewable tablets; it is recommended to take one tablet per day.
  • Special Immuno: is a a patented food supplement based on a harmonized combination of bovine colostrum and specific vitamins required to support the immune system of the elderly. Special Immuno is available in chewable tablets; it is recommended to take one tablet per day before the main meal.

Products based on Bovine Colostrum


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2.         Thapa, B. R. Health factors in colostrum. Indian J Pediatr 72, 579–581 (2005).

3.         Trzebiatowski, L., Georgiev, P. & Wehrend, A. [Trypsin-inhibitor activity in colostrum – an overview]. Tierarztl Prax Ausg G Grosstiere Nutztiere 50, 258–264 (2022).

4.         McGrath, B. A., Fox, P. F., McSweeney, P. L. H. & Kelly, A. L. Composition and properties of bovine colostrum: a review. Dairy Sci. & Technol. 96, 133–158 (2016).

5.         Gapper, L. W., Copestake, D. E. J., Otter, D. E. & Indyk, H. E. Analysis of bovine immunoglobulin G in milk, colostrum and dietary supplements: a review. Anal Bioanal Chem 389, 93–109 (2007).

6.         Shing, C. M., Peake, J. M., Suzuki, K., Jenkins, D. G. & Coombes, J. S. Bovine colostrum modulates cytokine production in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide and phytohemagglutinin. J Interferon Cytokine Res 29, 37–44 (2009).

7.         Tsuji, S., Hirata, Y., Mukai, F. & Ohtagaki, S. Comparison of lactoferrin content in colostrum between different cattle breeds. J Dairy Sci 73, 125–128 (1990).

8.         Wong, E. B., Mallet, J.-F., Duarte, J., Matar, C. & Ritz, B. W. Bovine colostrum enhances natural killer cell activity and immune response in a mouse model of influenza infection and mediates intestinal immunity through toll-like receptors 2 and 4. Nutr Res 34, 318–325 (2014).

9.         Playford, R. J. et al. Co-administration of the health food supplement, bovine colostrum, reduces the acute non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced increase in intestinal permeability. Clin Sci (Lond) 100, 627–633 (2001).

10.       Dinan, T. G. & Cryan, J. F. Melancholic microbes: a link between gut microbiota and depression? Neurogastroenterol Motil 25, 713–719 (2013).

11.        Dowlati, Y. et al. A meta-analysis of cytokines in major depression. Biol Psychiatry 67, 446–457 (2010).

12.       Shing, C. M. et al. Effects of bovine colostrum supplementation on immune variables in highly trained cyclists. J Appl Physiol (1985) 102, 1113–1122 (2007).

13.       Cesarone, M. R. et al. Prevention of influenza episodes with colostrum compared with vaccination in healthy and high-risk cardiovascular subjects: the epidemiologic study in San Valentino. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 13, 130–136 (2007).

14.       Brinkworth, G. D. & Buckley, J. D. Concentrated bovine colostrum protein supplementation reduces the incidence of self-reported symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection in adult males. Eur J Nutr 42, 228–232 (2003).

15.       Playford, R. J. & Weiser, M. J. Bovine Colostrum: Its Constituents and Uses. Nutrients 13, 265 (2021).

16.       Davis, P. F., Greenhill, N. S., Rowan, A. M. & Schollum, L. M. The safety of New Zealand bovine colostrum: nutritional and physiological evaluation in rats. Food Chem Toxicol 45, 229–236 (2007).

17.       Crooks, C. V., Wall, C. R., Cross, M. L. & Rutherfurd-Markwick, K. J. The effect of bovine colostrum supplementation on salivary IgA in distance runners. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 16, 47–64 (2006).