Will Bovine Colostrum Improve Your Exercise Efforts?

Bovine colostrum is the first milk a cow produces during the first few days after delivering a calf. Much like human colostrum (from breast milk), bovine colostrum is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and proteins (antibodies) that fight disease-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses. Its immune, growth, and antimicrobial factors promote tissue growth and cell recovery as well as a healthy digestive tract and immune system.

Although the value of bovine colostrum to human adults is not well understood, it's becoming increasingly popular with trained athletes as a way to promote exercise performance. A review of studies investigating the influence of bovine colostrum supplementation on exercise performance suggests that it may be effective for speeding recovery during periods of high-intensity training. Some athletes say it helps them burn fat, build lean muscle, and improve athletic performance. It's thought to aid in tissue recovery and muscle repair that occurs in response to strenuous exercise. It's also believed to be a rich source of a variety of growth hormones.

In addition to its athletic contributions, bovine colostrum is thought to be beneficial for treating diarrhea and diseases of the intestinal system. It's being researched for its effectiveness in treating of other diseases including infections and for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Bovine colostrum can be purchased in a powder concentrate, in pills and liquid form and is not considered to have any negative side effects or contraindications (except for people with dairy allergies). It's also not on the banned drug list of the International Olympic Committee.  That's because it's milk, which has long been considered to do a body good. Milk contains a perfect combination of proteins, natural sugars, fats and water that are easily digestible and readily available to body tissues. Bovine colostrum is considered a type of super-milk. 

Bovine colostrum is thought to be most appropriate for high-level athletes who engage in endurance sports like long-distance cycling or running or body-building, but many athletes pick plain, old low-fat milk as their after-sport drink of choice.

Not every fitness expert agrees there's any huge benefit to using colostrum supplements. Mike Ceja, certified fitness instructor at Lloyd Athletic Club says, "I think it's just one more unfortunate fitness gimmick that's probably best left for the calves.  If your workout lasts less than an hour, all you really need is water." 



Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Bovine Colostrum

Pub Med
Sports Med.
2009;39(12):1033-54. doi: 10.2165/11317860-000000000-00000.

Bovine colostrum supplementation and exercise performance: potential mechanisms.
Shing CM, Hunter DC, Stevenson LM.

School of Human Life Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. Cecilia.Shing@utas.edu.au