Colostrum – Advanced Nutrition

Brian Rowley

Q: What is bovine colostrum? I’ve heard that it’s good for bodybuilders.

A: As a bodybuilding supplement, we think the jury is still out on colostrum simply because of its cost. However, interest in colostrum is building, as five recent studies performed on elite athletes have shown promising results. As the first milk that comes from a cow’s udder, colostrum is rich in growth factors, antibodies and high-quality protein, making it a potentially valuable supplement for bodybuilders. Although adults can’t absorb colostrum’s anabolic peptides intact (because they’re digested), our guess is that colostrum might be slightly superior to whey for bodybuilders.

That said, the supplement outperforms whey only slightly and not always consistently. For example, 60 grams (g) per day of bovine colostrum for nine weeks improved acid-buffering ability in elite rowers. Improved buffering of acid ions during intense exercise means improved resistance to fatigue during “burn” activities such as bodybuilding, potentially helping you bang out a few more reps.

Some studies have found small increases in the anabolic peptide insulinlike growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which is a potent muscle builder. In elite cyclists, 20 g and 60 g of colostrum had the same impact on high-intensity performance as whey protein, while offering a small increase in IGF-1 levels as well. Although colostrum’s own IGF-1 peptides did not make it to the bloodstream intact, digested IGF-1 fragments and remnants of other colostrum proteins may have increased IGF-1 production in the liver of the athletes. And that could help in the muscle-building department.

Just the same, because colostrum’s effects are marginal, only well-heeled bodybuilders will get the most out of it, as it costs about $10 per day to get the active dose of 20-60 g. As with any dairy product, don’t give colostrum to an infant, and avoid it if you are allergic to dairy products. Because manufacturers remove lactose (as well as fat) during processing, it won’t bother lactose-intolerant bodybuilders.


* Consider increasing your omega-3 supplementation by eating fatty fish two or three times a week. Adding salmon to an omelet or scrambled eggs is an easy way to do this.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Weider Publications

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group