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All About Colostrum

Colostrum is one of the main ways mammals pass immunity down to their young.

Colostrum powder and capsules

Bovine colostrum has been used for hundreds of years to support health. It has been the subject of many clinical trials for everything from gut and immune health to athletic performance.

Colostrum is a great prebiotic. It contains a multitude of beneficial compounds and nutrients that support overall health. It also helps to support a healthy gut lining and microbiome. 

Properly made colostrum contains a wide array of beneficial compounds, including immunoglobulins (IGA and IGG), lactoferrin, oligosaccharides, growth factors, sialic acid, and much more.

While colostrum has many benefits, you won’t get them if it is not correctly manufactured and produced. Everything from when it is harvested and the drying process to how the cows are treated and raised makes a big difference in the quality of a colostrum product.

Over the first 24 hours after birth, a cow will produce about 8-10 liters of colostrum. For the health of the baby cow, the first five liters should be given to the calves, as this is vital for their survival and health. This first food of life provides sufficient immunity and nutrition for the calf to safeguard herd quality and life. The rest can be safely collected and used for other purposes. Many large companies take all the colostrum without leaving any for the calves. This practice is very unethical, and we recommend only getting colostrum from companies that ensure the calves have plenty for their health. That’s why it is so important to be able to trace your colostrum back to the farms it comes from. 

The cows should be 100% grass-fed and free to graze on open pastures. Ideally, they would be raised using regenerative farming to keep them and the planet healthy and to produce more nourishing food than traditional farming methods.

nursing cow

Collecting it at the right time is critical to getting the best and most effective colostrum. Many companies buy colostrum collected much later in the process because it is significantly less expensive but will not be as beneficial. Many companies have even begun producing colostrum products from milk collected many days after, which will have virtually no benefit but is very profitable.

After harvesting the colostrum, what is left after giving the calves what they need, the whole colostrum should be placed in refrigerated, sterilized stainless steel tanks. It then needs to be flash pasteurized at the lowest possible temperature for fifteen seconds to kill off any pathogenic microbes, but not long enough or at a high enough temperature to damage the fragile compounds, ideally, at about 72 degrees Celsius. Some companies use cheaper, higher heat pasteurization methods for a longer time, which can damage critical bioactive compounds.

It is not legal to sell raw colostrum capsules or powder in the United States. Any company claiming to sell raw versions is not being honest.

Then, it should be properly freeze-dried to preserve the bioactivity and nutritional value of the original colostrum. Proper drying keeps heat-sensitive proteins, vitamins, minerals, immunoglobulins, and enzymes intact. Many companies use spray drying, but this is not how colostrum should be dried because it usually involves high heat and pressure.

Spray drying leads to colostrum that is whitish in color rather than the golden yellow color it should be because this harsh processing method damages many of the fragile compounds. In addition, a white powder can often indicate that it was cut with milk powder to reduce the cost of production. Companies do not list this adulterant on the label.

At this point, the colostrum should be tested to ensure it is free of microbial pathogens. After drying, the colostrum powder should either be bottled or encapsulated and then bottled; that's it!

Colostrum powder

Many companies think that they can improve colostrum by messing with it. This could not be further from the truth. 

One of the biggest brands, which is currently spending a fortune on TV commercials and advertising, proudly claims that they remove “unnecessary” compounds like fat and casein to produce a more concentrated product that is richer in certain compounds. There are multiple problems with this. The biggest one is that the casein in colostrum plays a vital role in its effectiveness.

“Casein may also play a role in preserving the activity and aiding adsorption of other biologically active peptides by reducing their digestion by pancreatic enzymes, by means of functioning as a competitive substrate. This action is similar to that reported for bovine trypsin inhibitor, which protects IgGs, growth factors, and other biologically active proteins against proteolytic degradation within the gut. Bovine trypsin inhibitor is present in BC at about 100 times higher concentrations than mature milk. Studies have demonstrated that the co-presence of casein partially protects epidermal growth factor (EGF) from digestion in humans, and that the stability and absorption of IGF-1 is also improved. Casein also possesses other metabolic and protective effects including protective activity against experimental bacteraemia through increasing myelopoiesis. Therefore, casein should not only be considered as an energy source but also as a factor that possesses immune-regulatory, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.”

So, while some companies may view casein as “unnecessary,” they are wrong, and it should not be removed. Without it, the colostrum's effectiveness will be significantly less. Higher levels of “active” ingredients do not mean much if they are not going to survive the digestive process and be able to be utilized by the body. 

It never ends well when we mess around with whole foods, thinking we know better. The intricate relationship between nutrients and compounds is not something that is fully understood. Holism is the philosophy we should follow when it comes to food. 

Another large colostrum company claims that defatted colostrum is best. They say that the fat does not have beneficial nutrients or compounds, and you need to take the fat out to prevent it from going rancid. This is simply not true. Properly drying, manufacturing, and storage methods will prevent the fat from going rancid. In addition, colostrum fat has many nutrients, such as CLA, an important and beneficial fatty acid. CLA in dairy has been linked to a number of health benefits, Grass-fed dairy has higher levels of CLA than grain fed, another reason to opt for cows that spend their life on pasture. CLA is undoubtedly something that should not be removed.

When we alter foods, there are often unforeseen consequences. It’s best to process them as little as possible and leave them as close to their original state as possible.

holism of food

Foods are so much more than just a collection of chemical compounds.

In looking for a good colostrum, we wanted one that checked every box:

  • Cows that are treated properly and enough colostrum is saved for the calves.

  • Grass-fed and farmed using regenerative agriculture.

  • Colostrum was collected in the first 8-12 hours.

  • It was produced with gentle freeze-drying and minimal filtering.

  • Yellow in color to show that the beneficial compounds have not been damaged and the colostrum was not treated with high heat.

  • Whole colostrum - nothing removed - fats and casein left in.

  • Traceable back to the farms it came from.

  • Free of fillers, binders, excipients, artificial and “natural flavors, and sweeteners.

  • No added milk powder.

what to look for in a colostrum supplement

Thankfully, after much searching, we were able to find a colostrum that met all of those criteria without any compromises.

NXGEN produces colostrum at their facility in Australia. It comes from cows that graze freely in the Australian Outback. The pastures are not sprayed, and the cows are not given hormones.

This is where the cattle graze that produce the fantastic colostrum we recommend.

NXGEN is one of the only companies to make its own colostrum from start to finish. We strive for that kind of traceability with our Farm-To-Bottle Project, which is bringing the farm-to-table concept to supplements.

Colostrum can be a powerful tool for health, but as with other supplements, the full benefits can only be achieved if it’s made properly. 


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