Last Updated: September 28 2022

Colostrum, also known as first milk, is a mammary secretion produced by cows and related animals. The results of supplementation are similar to supplementing whey protein, though colostrum may offer some unique benefits for the immune and digestive systems.

Colostrum is most often used for


Colostrum is a pre-milk fluid produced in the mammary glands of mammals that have recently given birth. Newborns have immature digestive and immune systems, so the enzymes, antibodies, and growth factors colostrum provides promote growth and fight disease. Though colostrum is produced by all mammals, colostrum supplements are usually derived from bovine or (less frequently) goat sources. Colostrum has become a popular nutritional supplement because it is a rich source of enzymes, antibodies, and growth factors not found in other dairy products.

The undeveloped intestinal tract of a newborn allows the growth factors present in colostrum to pass freely through the intestinal wall for absorption. However, fully-developed adult mammal intestines will break down the beneficial compounds before they can be absorbed into the blood stream. Though digestive enzymes prevent colostrum growth factors from affecting muscles, they will still exert a local effect, which increase intestinal integrity. This prevents inflammation, like the kind that can be caused by prolonged, intense exercise, like competitive cycling. Outside of intense exercise, supplementing colostrum will have an effect similar to supplementing whey protein or casein protein.

Athletes often supplement colostrum in an effort to increase fat burning, add lean mass, or increase strength. Since their digestive systems are fully developed, these effects do not occur, and the body breaks down the growth factors and enzymes that colostrum provides before they can be transported to muscle cells.

The antibodies present in colostrum are also effective at reducing diarrhea caused by Escherichia coli and reducing the risk of HIV infection. To prevent E. coli-induced diarrhea, the colostrum must be obtained from an immunized animal.

What else is Colostrum known as?
Note that Colostrum is also known as:
  • First Milk
  • Bovine colostrum
Dosage information

The standard colostrum dose intended as a protein supplemented or intestinal health agent is between 20-60g. This dose contains 2-4g (10-20%) of immunoglobulin.

Colostrum is supplemented through a powder form.

A colostrum dose intended to reduce the risk of E. coli-induced diarrhea should contain between 400-3,500mg of immunoglobulins. It should be taken shortly after a meal. Colostrum intended to reduce the risk of diseases related to E. coli must come from a cow (or similar animal) that has been immunized against E. coli.

Join our supplement information course

Enter your email for a FREE five-day course on supplements. Get only the information that’s 100% backed by science. We take an independent and unbiased approach to figure out what works (and what’s a waste of time and money).

Examine is the only 100% independent company in the nutrition and supplement industry. While everyone else sells supplements and works with sponsors, we exclusively analyze research.

    The only 100% independent company. While everyone sells supplements, we only analyze research.

    Examine Database: Colostrum
    What works and what doesn't?

    Unlock the full potential of Examine

    Get started

    Don't miss out on the latest research

    Become an Examine Insider for FREE to stay on top of the latest nutrition research, supplement myths, and more

      2.^Lund P1, Sangild PT, Aunsholt L, Hartmann B, Holst JJ, Mortensen J, Mortensen PB, Jeppesen PBRandomised controlled trial of colostrum to improve intestinal function in patients with short bowel syndromeEur J Clin Nutr.(2012 Sep)
      4.^Jenness RComposition of MilkFundamentals of Dairy Chemistry.(1988)
      8.^Veh RW, Michalski JC, Corfield AP, Sander-Wewer M, Gies D, Schauer RNew chromatographic system for the rapid analysis and preparation of colostrum sialyloligosaccharidesJ Chromatogr.(1981 Aug 7)
      10.^Buckley JD1, Butler RN, Southcott E, Brinkworth GDBovine colostrum supplementation during running training increases intestinal permeabilityNutrients.(2009 Feb)
      11.^Kunz C1, Rodriguez-Palmero M, Koletzko B, Jensen RNutritional and biochemical properties of human milk, Part I: General aspects, proteins, and carbohydratesClin Perinatol.(1999 Jun)
      12.^Korhonen H1, Marnila P, Gill HSMilk immunoglobulins and complement factorsBr J Nutr.(2000 Nov)
      13.^Mero A1, Kähkönen J, Nykänen T, Parviainen T, Jokinen I, Takala T, Nikula T, Rasi S, Leppäluoto JIGF-I, IgA, and IgG responses to bovine colostrum supplementation during trainingJ Appl Physiol (1985).(2002 Aug)
      14.^Mero A1, Miikkulainen H, Riski J, Pakkanen R, Aalto J, Takala TEffects of bovine colostrum supplementation on serum IGF-I, IgG, hormone, and saliva IgA during trainingJ Appl Physiol (1985).(1997 Oct)
      15.^Collier RJ1, Miller MA, Hildebrandt JR, Torkelson AR, White TC, Madsen KS, Vicini JL, Eppard PJ, Lanza GMFactors affecting insulin-like growth factor-I concentration in bovine milkJ Dairy Sci.(1991 Sep)
      16.^Sparks AL1, Kirkpatrick JG, Chamberlain CS, Waldner D, Spicer LJInsulin-like growth factor-I and its binding proteins in colostrum compared to measures in serum of Holstein neonatesJ Dairy Sci.(2003 Jun)
      17.^Khan Z1, Macdonald C, Wicks AC, Holt MP, Floyd D, Ghosh S, Wright NA, Playford RJUse of the 'nutriceutical', bovine colostrum, for the treatment of distal colitis: results from an initial studyAliment Pharmacol Ther.(2002 Nov)
      18.^Pakkanen R, Aalto JGrowth factors and antimicrobial factors of bovine colostrumInt Dairy J.(1997 May)
      19.^Shing CM1, Hunter DC, Stevenson LMBovine colostrum supplementation and exercise performance: potential mechanismsSports Med.(2009)
      21.^Yamauchi K1, Tomita M, Giehl TJ, Ellison RT 3rdAntibacterial activity of lactoferrin and a pepsin-derived lactoferrin peptide fragmentInfect Immun.(1993 Feb)
      28.^Hofman Z1, Smeets R, Verlaan G, Lugt Rv, Verstappen PAThe effect of bovine colostrum supplementation on exercise performance in elite field hockey playersInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2002 Dec)
      30.^Gapper LW1, Copestake DE, Otter DE, Indyk HEAnalysis of bovine immunoglobulin G in milk, colostrum and dietary supplements: a reviewAnal Bioanal Chem.(2007 Sep)
      31.^Christiansen S, Guo M, Kjelden DChemical composition and nutrient profile of low molecular weight fraction of bovine colostrumInternational Dairy Journal.(2010 Sep)
      32.^Christiansen S, Guo M, Kjelden DChemical composition and nutrient profile of low molecular weight fraction of bovine colostrumInternational Dairy Journal.(2010 Sep)
      36.^Roos N1, Mahé S, Benamouzig R, Sick H, Rautureau J, Tomé D15N-labeled immunoglobulins from bovine colostrum are partially resistant to digestion in human intestineJ Nutr.(1995 May)
      38.^Hilpert H, Brüssow H, Mietens C, Sidoti J, Lerner L, Werchau HUse of bovine milk concentrate containing antibody to rotavirus to treat rotavirus gastroenteritis in infantsJ Infect Dis.(1987 Jul)
      40.^Brinkworth GD1, Buckley JD, Bourdon PC, Gulbin JP, David AOral bovine colostrum supplementation enhances buffer capacity but not rowing performance in elite female rowersInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2002 Sep)
      42.^Mero A1, Nykänen T, Keinänen O, Knuutinen J, Lahti K, Alen M, Rasi S, Leppäluoto JProtein metabolism and strength performance after bovine colostrum supplementationAmino Acids.(2005 May)
      44.^Brinkworth GD1, Buckley JD, Slavotinek JP, Kurmis APEffect of bovine colostrum supplementation on the composition of resistance trained and untrained limbs in healthy young menEur J Appl Physiol.(2004 Jan)
      45.^Buckley JD1, Abbott MJ, Brinkworth GD, Whyte PBBovine colostrum supplementation during endurance running training improves recovery, but not performanceJ Sci Med Sport.(2002 Jun)
      46.^Playford RJ1, MacDonald CE, Calnan DP, Floyd DN, Podas T, Johnson W, Wicks AC, Bashir O, Marchbank TCo-administration of the health food supplement, bovine colostrum, reduces the acute non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced increase in intestinal permeabilityClin Sci (Lond).(2001 Jun)
      47.^Pals KL1, Chang RT, Ryan AJ, Gisolfi CVEffect of running intensity on intestinal permeabilityJ Appl Physiol (1985).(1997 Feb)
      50.^Marchbank T1, Davison G, Oakes JR, Ghatei MA, Patterson M, Moyer MP, Playford RJThe nutriceutical bovine colostrum truncates the increase in gut permeability caused by heavy exercise in athletesAm J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol.(2011 Mar)
      51.^Rokutan KRole of heat shock proteins in gastric mucosal protectionJ Gastroenterol Hepatol.(2000 Mar)
      52.^Shing CM1, Peake J, Suzuki K, Okutsu M, Pereira R, Stevenson L, Jenkins DG, Coombes JSEffects of bovine colostrum supplementation on immune variables in highly trained cyclistsJ Appl Physiol (1985).(2007 Mar)
      53.^Shing CM1, Jenkins DG, Stevenson L, Coombes JSThe influence of bovine colostrum supplementation on exercise performance in highly trained cyclistsBr J Sports Med.(2006 Sep)
      55.^He F1, Tuomola E, Arvilommi H, Salminen SModulation of human humoral immune response through orally administered bovine colostrumFEMS Immunol Med Microbiol.(2001 Aug)
      56.^Crooks CV1, Wall CR, Cross ML, Rutherfurd-Markwick KJThe effect of bovine colostrum supplementation on salivary IgA in distance runnersInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2006 Feb)
      58.^Crooks C1, Cross ML, Wall C, Ali AEffect of bovine colostrum supplementation on respiratory tract mucosal defenses in swimmersInt J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab.(2010 Jun)
      60.^Siber GR, Schur PH, Aisenberg AC, Weitzman SA, Schiffman GCorrelation between serum IgG-2 concentrations and the antibody response to bacterial polysaccharide antigensN Engl J Med.(1980 Jul 24)
      61.^McKune AJ1, Smith LL, Semple SJ, Mokethwa B, Wadee AAImmunoglobulin responses to a repeated bout of downhill runningBr J Sports Med.(2006 Oct)
      62.^Sacerdote P1, Mussano F, Franchi S, Panerai AE, Bussolati G, Carossa S, Bartorelli A, Bussolati BBiological components in a standardized derivative of bovine colostrumJ Dairy Sci.(2013 Mar)
      63.^Uchida K1, Hiruta N, Yamaguchi H, Yamashita K, Fujimura K, Yasui HAugmentation of cellular immunity and protection against influenza virus infection by bovine late colostrum in miceNutrition.(2012 Apr)
      65.^Biswas P1, Vecchi A, Mantegani P, Mantelli B, Fortis C, Lazzarin AImmunomodulatory effects of bovine colostrum in human peripheral blood mononuclear cellsNew Microbiol.(2007 Oct)
      67.^Ricken KH1, Rieder T, Hauck G, Kindermann WChanges in lymphocyte subpopulations after prolonged exerciseInt J Sports Med.(1990 Apr)
      68.^Lambert CP1, Flynn MG, Braun WA, Mylona EInfluence of acute submaximal exercise on T-lymphocyte suppressor cell function in healthy young menEur J Appl Physiol.(2000 May)
      70.^Janusz M1, Zabłocka AColostrinin: a proline-rich polypeptide complex of potential therapeutic interestCell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand).(2013 Nov 3)
      72.^Marcotte H1, Lavoie MCOral microbial ecology and the role of salivary immunoglobulin AMicrobiol Mol Biol Rev.(1998 Mar)
      73.^Yel LSelective IgA deficiencyJ Clin Immunol.(2010 Jan)
      74.^Woof JM1, Kerr MAThe function of immunoglobulin A in immunityJ Pathol.(2006 Jan)
      75.^Thapa BRTherapeutic potentials of bovine colostrumsIndian J Pediatr.(2005 Oct)
      78.^Smith CJ1, Sabin CA, Lampe FC, Kinloch-de-Loes S, Gumley H, Carroll A, Prinz B, Youle M, Johnson MA, Phillips ANThe potential for CD4 cell increases in HIV-positive individuals who control viraemia with highly active antiretroviral therapyAIDS.(2003 May 2)
      79.^Kaufmann GR1, Perrin L, Pantaleo G, Opravil M, Furrer H, Telenti A, Hirschel B, Ledergerber B, Vernazza P, Bernasconi E, Rickenbach M, Egger M, Battegay M; Swiss HIV Cohort Study GroupCD4 T-lymphocyte recovery in individuals with advanced HIV-1 infection receiving potent antiretroviral therapy for 4 years: the Swiss HIV Cohort StudyArch Intern Med.(2003 Oct 13)
      80.^Piketty C1, Castiel P, Belec L, Batisse D, Si Mohamed A, Gilquin J, Gonzalez-Canali G, Jayle D, Karmochkine M, Weiss L, Aboulker JP, Kazatchkine MDDiscrepant responses to triple combination antiretroviral therapy in advanced HIV diseaseAIDS.(1998 May 7)
      81.^Byakwaga H1, Kelly M, Purcell DF, French MA, Amin J, Lewin SR, Haskelberg H, Kelleher AD, Garsia R, Boyd MA, Cooper DA, Emery S; CORAL Study GroupIntensification of antiretroviral therapy with raltegravir or addition of hyperimmune bovine colostrum in HIV-infected patients with suboptimal CD4+ T-cell response: a randomized controlled trialJ Infect Dis.(2011 Nov 15)
      82.^Florén CH1, Chinenye S, Elfstrand L, Hagman C, Ihse IColoPlus, a new product based on bovine colostrum, alleviates HIV-associated diarrhoeaScand J Gastroenterol.(2006 Jun)
      83.^Shing CM1, Peake JM, Suzuki K, Jenkins DG, Coombes JSA pilot study: bovine colostrum supplementation and hormonal and autonomic responses to competitive cyclingJ Sports Med Phys Fitness.(2013 Oct)
      84.^Coombes JS1, Conacher M, Austen SK, Marshall PADose effects of oral bovine colostrum on physical work capacity in cyclistsMed Sci Sports Exerc.(2002 Jul)
      86.^Kojima M1, Hosoda H, Date Y, Nakazato M, Matsuo H, Kangawa KGhrelin is a growth-hormone-releasing acylated peptide from stomachNature.(1999 Dec 9)
      87.^Kotunia A1, Zabielski RGhrelin in the postnatal development of the gastrointestinal tractJ Physiol Pharmacol.(2006 Nov)
      88.^Hurley WL1, Theil PKPerspectives on immunoglobulins in colostrum and milkNutrients.(2011 Apr)
      89.^Yolken RH, Losonsky GA, Vonderfecht S, Leister F, Wee SBAntibody to human rotavirus in cow's milkN Engl J Med.(1985 Mar 7)
      91.^Tacket CO1, Losonsky G, Link H, Hoang Y, Guesry P, Hilpert H, Levine MMProtection by milk immunoglobulin concentrate against oral challenge with enterotoxigenic Escherichia coliN Engl J Med.(1988 May 12)
      93.^Levine MM, Nalin DR, Hoover DL, Bergquist EJ, Hornick RB, Young CRImmunity to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coliInfect Immun.(1979 Mar)
      94.^Kotler DP, Gaetz HP, Lange M, Klein EB, Holt PREnteropathy associated with the acquired immunodeficiency syndromeAnn Intern Med.(1984 Oct)
      96.^Nord J1, Ma P, DiJohn D, Tzipori S, Tacket COTreatment with bovine hyperimmune colostrum of cryptosporidial diarrhea in AIDS patientsAIDS.(1990 Jun)
      98.^Rump JA1, Arndt R, Arnold A, Bendick C, Dichtelmüller H, Franke M, Helm EB, Jäger H, Kampmann B, Kolb P, et alTreatment of diarrhoea in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients with immunoglobulins from bovine colostrumClin Investig.(1992 Jul)
      100.^Playford RJ1, Floyd DN, Macdonald CE, Calnan DP, Adenekan RO, Johnson W, Goodlad RA, Marchbank TBovine colostrum is a health food supplement which prevents NSAID induced gut damageGut.(1999 May)
      104.^Finnson KW1, McLean S2, Di Guglielmo GM2, Philip A1Dynamics of Transforming Growth Factor Beta Signaling in Wound Healing and ScarringAdv Wound Care (New Rochelle).(2013 Jun)
      105.^Powell-Tuck J, Day DW, Buckell NA, Wadsworth J, Lennard-Jones JECorrelations between defined sigmoidoscopic appearances and other measures of disease activity in ulcerative colitisDig Dis Sci.(1982 Jun)