About Colostrum Nature’s Perfect Food for Infants and Adults
Colostrum is nature’s perfect first food. It is the pre-milk substance that is produced by all mammals at the time of giving birth. Colostrum is a mixture of immune and growth factors as well as important nutrients, all designed to activate a newborn’s immune system, ensuring the health, vitality, and growth of the newborn. Numerous studies show that colostrum and its components continue to exert important biological activities also when given to adults, so that its beneficial effects extend well beyond the neonatal period of development.
How Colostrum Works to Improve Health
The most important components of colostrum can be broken down into three major categories: Immune Factors, Growth Factors and Nutritional Components.
Colostrum contains various immune system factors, such as immunoglobulins (Ig), proline-rich polypeptides (PRPs), lactoferrin (LF) and may others. Proline-rich polypeptides (PRPs) have the unique ability to balance the immune system and are the most important component in colostrum. The majority of immunoglobulin fraction is represented by Immunoglobulin G (IgG). Immuno-supplementation with bovine antibodies has shown to be an effective means of providing local protection to the gastro-intestinal tract. Lactoferrin has potent anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-oxidant activities to help protect the body from invading pathogens.
Proline-Rich Polypeptides (PRPs)
Proline-rich polypeptides (PRPs) act systemically, modulating the complex immune system and are therefore the most important ingredient in colostrum. They work as hormones that regulate the thymus gland (the body’s central command for the immune system), stimulating an underactive immune system or down-regulating an overactive immune system.
Peptides are short chains of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — without the complex tertiary structure of proteins. Proline-rich polypeptides (PRPs), so-called because they contain an unusually high proportion of the amino acid proline, are intercellular signaling molecules that have the unique ability to modulate the immune system, turning it up when needed or turning it down when it is overactive.
Immunomodulating colostral peptides appear under various names in literature, including transfer factor, colostrinin and Proline-rich polypeptides (PRPs).
Immunoglobulins (IgG, IgA, IgE, IgM, IgD)
The immunoglobulin fraction in bovine colostrum is composed of approximately 70-80% IgG, 10-15% IgA, 10-15% IgM, while IgE and IgD are found in small amounts.
Local protection in the form of immuno-supplementation with bovine milk antibodies has been shown to be an effective means of providing local protection to the GI tract.
The function of these immunoglobulins (antibodies) is as follows:
IgG — predominant immunoglobulin in bovine milk colostrum; primary function is to identify and help destroy invading pathogenic microbes.
IgA — predominant immunoglobulin in human milk and colostrum; primary role is as first line of defense, protects mucosal surfaces and prevents the attachment of pathogens to them.
IgM — primary role is “first to fight;” enhances phagocytosis by destroying invading pathogens.
IgE — involved with the allergic reaction and histamine-associated allergic reaction; also involved with active defense against enteric parasites.
IgD — attached to B cells; it stimulates lymphocytes to produce antibodies by presenting antigens to them.
Laboratory analyses of both immune and growth factors from bovine colostrum indicate that they are identical to those found in human colostrum except for the fact that the levels of these factors are significantly higher in the bovine version. Bovine colostrum is actually 40 times richer in immune factors than human colostrum. For example, human colostrum contains 2% of IgG (immunoglobulin G) while cow colostrum contains 86% of IgG, the most important of the immunoglobulins found in the body.
Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein that helps deprive bacteria of the iron they require to reproduce and releases iron into the red blood cells enhancing oxygenation of tissues. Lactoferrin modulates cytokine release and its receptors have been found on most immune cells including lymphocytes, monocytes, macrophages and platelets.
Cytokines are small proteins that are secreted by specific cells of the immune system. They are a category of signaling molecules that are used extensively in cellular communication. They are proteins, peptides, or glycoproteins.
Lysozymes can help support the immune system.
Lactoperidase-thiocyanate, peroxidase, and xanthine oxidase oxidize bacteria through their ability to release hydrogen peroxide.
Glycoproteins are a digestive factor that has been shown to help immune and growth factors survive the passage through the highly acidic digestive system.
Colostrum contains many growth factors, including insulin-like growth factor-1 and 2 (IGF-1 and IGF-2), Epithelial growth factor (EGF), Fibroblast growth factor (FGF), Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and Transforming growth factors (TGF-α and TGF-β).
Growth factors, are peptides that function as intercellular signaling molecules to turn on or turn off the production of specific proteins in the target cells.
Their presence in colostrum is primarily to complete the growth and development of the newborn gut, but in older children and adults they help support a healthy gut wall.
Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids, and Essential Oils
Colostrum is a combination of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are naturally occurring in a perfect combination. Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, and E are found in small amounts while traces of all other vitamins, as well as minerals such as calcium, sodium, magnesium and zinc, are also present in colostrum.
Colostrum is a rich source of both essential and non-essential amino acids, as well as essential fats, including phospholipids, which enable colostral protein protection and easy absorption in the gut by forming liposomes around them.