What do colostrum do?

Colostrum is the first milk produced by all mammals, and it contains large proportions of proteins, carbohydrates and bioactive compounds. Newborn mammals have an immature digestive system, but colostrum contains the nutrient in compact form, securing the newborn all the nutrients needed to protect the gut and help to activate the immune system of the newborn. 


Bovine colostrum contains more than 250 different bioactive factors; all contributing to give the calf strength to withstand illnesses. Calves are born without immunologic compounds in the blood and a critically immature immune system, but they receive a complete immune system from the cow via the colostrum. The colostrum also contribute to the mature the gut and get the digestive system started. Infants receive an almost complete immune system passively from their mother during the pregnancy, while the rest comes as bioactive factors in the colostrum. Scientific studies have identified the bioactive factors in both human and bovine colostrum and found they are identical. However, the concentrations of the bioactive factors are 40 times higher in bovine colostrum compared to human colostrum.


Colostrum contains animal milk proteins in the form of caseins and whey proteins of high biological value. This means that they contain important amino acids in an easily absorbable form for the body. Colostrum is also rich in immunoglobulins, which play an important role in building the immune system. Finally, colostrum contains more than 100 other bioactive substances (immunoglobulins, growth factors, antimicrobial compounds), of which many are proteins. 


The bioactive factors in colostrum interact and possess cumulative effects. An intact milk matrix is thus important for the effects of the colostrum.  The milk matrix also protects the bioactive factors from being digested, so they arrive intact and functional at their respective places in the gut.