Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Makes up Bovine Colostrum

By Dr. Anthony Kleinsmith


The biologically active components in bovine colostrum change very rapidly after the calf is born. Due to these rapid changes, it becomes necessary to know that it has the highest amount of biologically active substances and that you know exactly what makes up bovine colostrum.


Most of the biologically active substances in complete bovine colostrum that can convey significant health benefits are proteins. Since almost all of the beneficial proteins are conveyed from the mother's bloodstream into the colostrum before birth and the mother then begins to reabsorb them about 6-8 hours after birth, it is important to use colostrum that has been collected during a time period that will minimize the effect of the reabsorption process. Of real significance is the fact that by 24 hours after birth most of the proteins in the udder fluid can be accounted for by two individual proteins that are primarily only of nutritional value, casein and albumin.

Colostral Fat

The milk fat in complete first milking colostrum is one the most under-rated and misunderstood components by many companies that promote bovine colostrum for human consumption. There are all kinds of stories, none of which are ever substantiated with any scientific evidence that the fat in colostrum doesn't serve any purpose and/or that having it there leads to faster deterioration of the product. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, one of the companies that removes the fat from what they call "colostrum" then adds a component of the fat back to their dried products. They claim that this makes their "colostrum" more digestible, which was one of the functions of the fat in complete colostrum in the first place. Casein is a nutritionally valuable complete protein that is broken down in the stomach to small peptides and amino acids so that they can be absorbed and used to build new muscle protein by forming a cottage cheese-like curd in the stomach. This occurs enzymatically in the newborn and the adult and the basis for the curd that forms is the fat in the colostrum. So without it, in addition to losing some significant biologically active substances that are associated with the fat, one loses most of the nutritional value of the casein. That is part of the reason why the fat content of colostrum increases with time after birth as the amount of casein increases in the secreted fluid. Mother nature doesn't waste much and has organized the components of colostrum and their changing pattern in an efficient way to maximize the benefits to the offspring that is going to receive it.

High quality first milking bovine colostrum will contain 20-30% milk fat.2 The milk fat in colostrum is also a very important means to deliver some of its beneficial biologically active substances.1,3 Dissolved in or associated with the fat in colostrum are vitamins A, D, E and K; steroid hormones; corticosteroids; some growth factors; and insulin.

Lactose (Milk Sugar)

Bovine colostrum contains 10-15% lactose. When lactose is broken down in the saliva and the stomach of the calf, it creates an immediate metabolic energy source for the calf. The mother's milk increases in its lactose content as the calf develops. 6 hours after the birth of the calf the lactose content is half of the lactose content 12 hours after birth and a third of the lactose content 24 hours after birth.

Humans also have the lactase enzyme in their stomach and in their saliva. So when the enzyme is broken down it also gives humans an immediate metabolic energy. Some people are lactose intolerant due to their bodies producing none or very little of the lactase enzyme. Most of these individuals need not worry about using colostrum as a dietary supplement.

More Compositional Considerations

When colostrum and milk are compared, the following results are found:

Colostrum has 10 times the amount of vitamin A than milk.

Vitamin D is found to be 10 times greater in colostrum than milk.

Colostrum has 10 times the amount of iron than milk

Colostrum contains more calcium, phosphorous and magnesium than milk.

The biologically active components.

The ?first milking? colostrum biologically active components can usually be divided into categories. Most components fit into these basic categories: Growth Factors, Immune Factors and Metabolic Factors. Sometimes different suppliers of colostrum will give claims of their interpretation of results found in studies rather than the facts found by the scientific investigator. It is important to keep that in mind as you examine different colostrum suppliers.

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