Are Bovine Colostrum Supplements Legit? Colostrum Side Effects

Moo-ve over, because today we’re diving into the world of bovine colostrum supplements! From the farm to your supplement cabinet, these products have gained quite a herd of loyal followers. But before we delve into it, let’s take a moment to milk this topic for all it’s worth and discuss what exactly bovine colostrum is and why it has become such a popular choice among health enthusiasts. Is it actually healthy? Is it humane? Are there better alternatives?

Keep reading to learn more about bovine colostrum supplements! I hope you’re utterly impressed by this info.

Bovine Colostrum Explained

Note: This article contains affiliate links, meaning In On Around will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps us maintain the site. As always, we value full transparency & only work with brands we love and trust.

Author: In On Around Founder & CEO, Catherine Power.

Summary: 

  • High-quality IgG contains about 3x more antibodies than colostrum and it can be a more concentrated alternative to colostrum.
  • Best Brands = Just Thrive Ultimate IgG

Table of Contents

What Is Colostrum?

Colostrum is a nutrient-rich, yellowish fluid produced by mammals, including cows, shortly after giving birth. It is packed with essential nutrients, growth factors, and antibodies that support the health and development of newborns.

It’s also known as hyperimmune bovine colostrum, bovine immunoglobulin, and cow milk colostrum.

Bovine colostrum, specifically derived from cows, has gained popularity as a dietary supplement due to its potential benefits for human health. It is known to contain a high concentration of collagen, a protein that plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin, bones, and joints.

Colostrum is known as “liquid gold.”

Colostrum Vs. Milk

Colostrum is not just regular breastmilk… it’s way more nutrient-dense and it’s only made by the mama cow for the first few days after calving. It distinguishes itself from milk due to its lower lactose content and higher levels of fat, protein, peptides, non-protein nitrogen, vitamins, minerals, hormones, growth factors, cytokines, and nucleotides. [1]

It’s rich in many important compounds like:

  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulins (IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, IgM)
  • Proline-Rich Polypeptides (PRPs)
  • Growth Factors (IGF-I, IGF-II, EGF)
  • Enzymes like peroxidase and lactoferrin
  • Lactalbumins
  • Proteins and peptides (at about 15%, compared to milk which is about 3%)

… and much more.

What Are Immunoglobulins?

Immunoglobulins, or antibodies, are proteins that play a vital role in the immune system. In bovine colostrum, the first milk produced by cows after giving birth, immunoglobulins are present in high concentrations.

Colostrum has a lot of a substance called immunoglobulin G (IgG) that is really important because it gives newborns passive immunity right after they are born. Among the different types of immunoglobulins in cow milk and colostrum, IgG1 is the one found in the highest amount. As a mother cow produces milk, IgG declines significantly.

Benefits Of Colostrum Supplements

Since colostrum is rich in IgG and other compounds, there are many proposed health benefits, such as:

  • Immune system support [2, 3]
  • Digestive health
    • Reducing intestinal permeability [4]
    • Treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) [5]
    • Help infectious diarrhea symptoms [6, 7]
  • Endurance [8]
  • Improves recurring respiratory tract infections [9]
  • Aids in muscle recovery (great for athletes!) [10]

It’s typically well-tolerated by most healthy individuals [11] Keep in mind, research on bovine colostrum supplementation is fairly limited, so take this with a grain of salt.

Side Effects & Precautions of Colostrum Supplements

It’s essential to safely reap the benefits of colostrum without putting yourself at risk.

  • There is a lack of research surrounding the survivability of bovine colostrum immunoglobulins in the human digestive tract
  • Bovine antibodies are different than human antibodies
  • Consumption of bovine colostrum deprives the newborn calves from those nutrients, which they need to grow and remain strong. This is a major ethical dilemma!
  • Can cause some side effects like:
    • Allergic reactions
    • Diarrhea
    • Gas
    • Bloating
  • Most bovine colostrum brands are not organic and can contain contaminants

Is Bovine Colostrum Sourcing Humane?

There is certainly an ethical issue surrounding the sourcing of bovine colostrum. The process of extracting colostrum from cows often involves separating newborn calves from their mothers shortly after birth, which deprives them of vital nourishment and bonding time. This practice raises concerns about the emotional well-being and welfare of the animals involved, as maternal separation can cause distress and long-term negative effects.

Colostrum that is consumed by humans is taken from the baby cows that need nourishment from their mothers.

Farmers claim that they only sourced excess or surplus colostrum from healthy dairy cows, but the calf would benefit from consuming colostrum in all its glory. There is certainly an ethical concern around this practice, especially since any excess colostrum can be frozen and stored for the animal for times of illness.

Additionally, the commercial demand for bovine colostrum may contribute to the intensification of factory farming and the perpetuation of an industry that prioritizes profit over animal welfare.

Colostrum Feedback

I asked my Instagram community about their experiences with colostrum. Here are the highlights:

  • “No side effects, only benefits! Gut integrity/strength has improved plus thicker hair”
  • “I’ve tried it! It has helped me become “regular” if you know what I mean.”
  • “Absolutely love it.”
  • “Tried it and completed the box, not sure I noticed a difference. Tasted fine though.”
  • “I love it! It helped me reintroduce food sensitivity like eggs.”
  • “I’m finishing it up now and honestly didn’t feel or see any difference.”
  • “Didn’t see any difference.”
  • “I liked it at first, but think I felt better switching to IGG.”
Colostrum Poll

Who Should Avoid It?

Like with other supplements, there are some people who should avoid it. As always, speak with your doctor before starting a new supplement routine.

  • Children
  • Breastfeeding mothers
  • Pregnant women
  • If you’re taking certain medications
  • Actively trying to conceive
  • If you’re HIV-positive
  • Anyone who is lactose intolerant
  • If you’re estrogen-dominant or hormone-sensitive
    • Colostrum contains estrogen, so speak with your doctor if you have high estrogen levels.

 

This is not an exhaustive list.

Choosing the Right Colostrum Supplement: Quality Matters

  • From grass-fed and grass-finished dairy cows
    • Many brands are only grass-fed, NOT grass-finished
    • Ideally, it’s best for the animals to be pasture-raised and farmed with regenerative practices in mind
  • High levels of IgG
  • Sourced as ethically and humanely as possible
  • Third-party tested for purity and safety

Supplement QUALITY matters.

Best Alternative

The Best Alternative: Just Thrive IgG

If you’re looking to target supplementation of IgG in an even higher dose than what’s in colostrum, check out Just Thrive Ultimate IgG. This supplement contains about 3x more antibodies than colostrum and it’s one of the most highly-concentrated forms of IgG on the market.

Use code inonaround to save 15% on Just Thrive!

It’s 100% dairy-free and was formulated by a microbiologist to provide clinically proven immune support. In my opinion, targeted IgG supplementation can make a bigger impact without ethical concerns.

Top Picks

The Two Best Bovine Colostrum Brands

Note: prices were pulled in June 2023. Before purchasing, please double-check all pricing as they may have changed.

  • This brand was founded by Carnivore MD
  • They very quickly & happily shared their transparent third-party test results, including the full Certificate of Analysis (with heavy metal and microbial testing) and extensive pesticide/herbicide screen. I’m impressed!
  • ~$68/30 servings (~$2.27/serving)
  • About 3000 mg of colostrum
  • Pros:
    • 100% grass-fed, grass-finished, and regeneratively farmed in New Zealand
    • Free of any fillers
    • No glyphosate detected
    • Very extensive third-party testing
  • Cons:
    • Six capsules per serving (which can be a lot for some people)
    • Doesn’t show IgG concentration on the label

 

Heart & Soil Immunomilk’s Certificate of Analysis heavy metal results from March 2023:

Immunomilk Heavy Metals
  • They shared their transparent third-party test results, including the full Certificate of Analysis (with heavy metal and microbial testing) from 2022.
  • $68 for 30 servings ($2.27/serving)
  • About 3000 mg of colostrum per serving
  • Pros:
    • Pasture-raised in New Zealand and Australia
    • 100% grass-fed and grass-finished colostrum
    • Free of any fillers
  • Cons:
    • Six capsules per serving (which can be a lot of some people)
    • Doesn’t show IgG concentration on the label
Ancestral Supplements
Not The Best Picks

Not My Favorite Colostrum Brands

These brands are either not prioritizing pasture-raised/regenerative farming, don’t disclose enough information about their formulation, or aren’t grass-fed. While these brands certainly aren’t the “worst of the worst” when it comes to supplements, how the animal is farmed is crucial to the quality of colostrum supplements. It’s okay to be extra picky!

Just because I don’t like colostrum from these brands, doesn’t mean I don’t like all of their products. This is specific to bovine colostrum.

Update July 2023: After over a month of no response, Armra got back to me with some test results. They did not share the full report, but they did send over a screenshot and confirmed that they test for glyphosate, heavy metals, contaminants, and microbes. While they’re still not my favorite option, I’m more confident in their product now that they’re being more transparent… despite the month-long wait.

Below is the report they shared with me:

Armra COA

  • Did not respond to my multiple request for their COA/heavy metal test results.
  • ~$40/30 servings (~$1.33/serving)
  • About 1 g of colostrum blend per serving
  • The main ingredient in Armra is “Proprietary Immune Bioactives from Bovine Colostrum.”
  • I reached out to them to request their heavy metal testing in a Certificate of Analysis. They did not respond.
  • This brand has been marketing like crazy! They have a large influencer following.
  • Pros:
    • From grass-fed cows on family-owned dairy farms
    • Glyphosate-free
    • USA-made
    • GMP-certified facility
  • Cons:
    • The main ingredient in Armra is “Proprietary Immune Bioactives from Bovine Colostrum.”
    • They remove specific, undisclosed compounds from the colostrum
      • “We remove unnecessary compounds from bovine colostrum like casein and fat, and enhance the concentrations of essential bioactives.” [12, 13]
      • Without test results, it’s impossible to know if this will impact how the colostrum is metabolized
    • Doesn’t show IgG concentration on the label
    • Doesn’t establish if the cows are grass-finished or how they’re farmed
    • Their flavored options contain citric acid and stevia, which are best avoided

  • They were originally in the “best” category, but they refused to send me their heavy metal test results.
  • ~$55/30 servings (~$1.83/serving)
  • About 3.2 grams of colostrum per serving
  • Pros:
    • Made from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows
    • Single-origin
    • Free of any fillers
  • Cons:
    • Doesn’t establish where it’s sourced from
    • Doesn’t show IgG levels on the label
  • Despite claiming to adhere to GMP regulations, they did not want to send me their heavy metal test results.
  • $65/60 servings (~$1.1/serving)
  • About 2000 mg of colostrum per serving
  • Pros:
    • Established a 40% IgG level on the label (800 mg)
    • USA-made
    • GMP-certified facility
    • Free of any fillers
  • Cons:
    • Not grass-fed or grass-finished (important!)
  • Did not respond to my multiple request for their COA/heavy metal test results.
  • ~$50/30 servings (~$1.67/serving)
  • About 800 mg of colostrum per serving
  • Pros:
    • Lab-tested
    • Free of any fillers
  • Cons:
    • Smaller quantity of colostrum per serving – there are better options with a higher quantity.
    • Doesn’t show IgG levels on the label

  • They sent me their June and September 2022 heavy metal test reports. Has higher heavy metal count than some other brands that I like (0.08 ppm Lead).
  • ~$40/45 servings (~$0.89/serving)
  • About 900 mg of colostrum per serving
  • Pros:
    • 40% IgG
    • Pure Encapsulations focuses a lot on product testing
  • Cons:
    • Brand is owned by Nestle
    • Not from grass-fed or grass-finished cows
Pure Encapsulations Colostrum
  • Did not respond to my multiple request for their COA/heavy metal test results.
  • ~$72/120 servings (~$0.6/serving)
  • About 1500 mg of colostrum per serving
  • Pros:
    • Made from grass-fed, Grade A dairy cows
    • USA-made
    • Claims to be 100% organic
    • Third-party tested
    • Free of any fillers
  • Cons:
    • Reviews say that it can be clumpy
    • Doesn’t establish if the cows are grass-finished
  • While they’re not necessarily prioritizing pasture-raised farming, I applaude them for sending over their most recent heavy metal test results from May 2023.
  • ~$29/30 servings (~$0.97/serving)
  • About 4000 mg of colostrum per serving
Brain Basics COA
  • Pros:
    • Made from grass-fed cows
    • USA-made
    • Third-party tested
    • Minimum 25% IgG (1000 mg)
    • Free of any fillers
  • Cons:
    • Doesn’t establish if the cows are grass-finished

Final Thoughts - Bovine Colostrum Supplements

While bovine colostrum supplements can certainly have health benefits, there’s an even better alternative: IgG. IgG supplements offer a more concentrated and standardized form of immunoglobulins, ensuring consistent dosage and potency, making them a convenient and reliable option for individuals seeking immune enhancement or gut support. Check them out!

⬇ Pin this “Is bovine colostrum healthy?” pic on Pinterest for future reference! ⬇

Are Bovine Colostrum Supplements Safe?

Have you tried Colostrum supplements?

Let me know your thoughts and key takeaways in the comments below!

xoxo,

In On Around Signature

Want to read more? Check out our other articles

Check out my other articles here!

Other references on Colostrum Supplements: Illuminate Labs, Zuma, Sovereign Laboratories, BioQuad, Insider, Sloan Kettering, Biodane Pharma, Mountain Life

Copyright In On Around LLC 2024 ©. The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided by this website should not be used as individual medical advice and you should always consult your doctor for individual recommendations and treatment. The information contained in this site is provided on an “as is” basis. Related to this site, there are no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness. In On Around LLC assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this site.

Frequently Asked Questions – Bovine Colostrum Supplements

Click on the below FAQs to learn more about: Immunoglobulin G (IgG) supplements, natural immune boosters, colostrum-derived immunoglobulins, and choosing high-quality bovine colostrum supplements.

When looking for a bovine colostrum supplement, opt for brands that source from 100% grass-fed and grass-finished dairy cows. They should have high levels of IgG and all products should be third-party tested for purity.

Yes, high-quality IgG supplements can be a better option than bovine colostrum supplements since they are a higher dosage and more ethical.

Children, breastfeeding mothers, pregnant women, and those taking certain medications should avoid bovine colostrum supplements. As always, speak with your doctor before starting a new supplement routine.

There is certainly an ethical issue surrounding the sourcing of bovine colostrum. The process of extracting colostrum from cows often involves separating newborn calves from their mothers shortly after birth, which deprives them of vital nourishment and bonding time. This practice raises concerns about the emotional well-being and welfare of the animals involved, as maternal separation can cause distress and long-term negative effects.

About Catherine Power

Catherine Power is the Founder and CEO of In On Around. She is a Harvard-educated Ingredient Safety and Environmental Toxins expert. Catherine has a background in Food Science, Personal Care Quality, and Regulatory Compliance.

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