Bovine colostrum whey comes from cows and is usually produced two to four days after they have given birth. This fluid contains a rich store of antibodies and other substances that help protect calves from infection, enhance their immune function and promote growth. Purported uses for humans include treating diarrhea, promoting overall gastrointestinal health, boosting the immune system and enhancing athletic performance. Like many nutritional supplements, it comes in many forms, but they are all similar in their contents. The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center says that evidence supports these uses but that not all studies produced positive results 1.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center says colostrum has not been associated with any significant side effects 1. Potential reactions include nausea and flatulence. Drugs.com notes a lack of scientific literature suggesting that bovine colostrum poses any risk of toxicity 3.
If you have an allergy to dairy products, do not use bovine colostrum.
Use in Certain Individuals
The safety of bovine colostrum for pregnant or nursing women has not been established. In these instances, check with your doctor before using any sort of supplement. Talk to your pediatrician before giving bovine colostrum to your child.
Other Safety Concerns
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Bovine colostrum does not have any documented medication interactions 3. Besides a milk allergy, no other contraindications – instances where you should not use bovine colostrum – exist. If you take any medications or have any medical conditions, check with your doctor before using any supplement.
Staying within suggested dosage ranges can help minimize any negative effects associated with a drug or natural supplement. Drugs.com notes the following doses were used in studies: 25 milliliters to 125 milliliters of liquid extract or 10 grams to 20 grams of dried powder. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reports doses as high as 60 grams daily were used in studies examining its effect on athletic performance 1. The bovine colostrum used in these studies, however, was specifically formulated and is not available for sale. Whether or not the bovine colostrum products on the market would offer the same benefits is not clear.
- Staying within suggested dosage ranges can help minimize any negative effects associated with a drug or natural supplement.
- The bovine colostrum used in these studies, however, was specifically formulated and is not available for sale.
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- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Colostrum; February 2011
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Bovine Colostrum; May 2011
- Drugs.com: Complete Bovine Colostrum Information
- Antonio, J.; Sanders, M.; and van Gammeren, D. The Effects of Bovine Colostrum Supplementation on Body Composition and Exercise Performance in Active Men and Women. Nutrition. 2001 Mar;17(3):243-7.
- Cesarone, M.; Belcaro, G.; di Renzo A. 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. 2007 Apr;13(2):130-6. DOI: 10.1177/1076029606295957.
- Duff, W.; Chilibeck, P.; Rooke, J. et al. The effect of bovine colostrum supplementation in older adults during resistance training. Int J Sports Nutr Exerc Metab. 2014 Jun;24(3):276-85. DOI: 10.1123/ijsnem.2013-0182.
- Elfstrand, L. and Florén, C. Management of chronic diarrhea in HIV-infected patients: current treatment options, challenges, and future directions. HIV AIDS (Auckl). 2010; 2: 219-24. DOI: 10.2147/HIV.S13191.
- Playford, R.; MacDonald, C.; Calnan, D. 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). 2001 Jun;100(6):627-33.
- Saad, K.; Abo-Elela, M.; El-Baseer, A. et al. Effects of bovine colostrum on recurrent respiratory tract infections and diarrhea in children. Medicine. 2016 Sep;95(37):e4560. DOI: 10.1097/MD.0000000000004560.
- Shing, C.; Hunter, D.; and Stevenson, L. Bovine Colostrum Supplementation and Exercise Performance: Potential Mechanisms. Sports Med. 2009;39(12):1033-54. DOI: 10.2165/11317860-000000000-00000.
Kelli Cooper has been a writer since 2009, specializing in health and fitness. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers University and is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise.