Colostrum is the very first milk produced by cows and all other mammalian mothers after parturition and the first nutrition for mammalian neonates. Its composition differs markedly from the mature milk produced later in lactation, as it contains large amounts of bioactive factors such as immunoglobulins, growth factors, and antimicrobial factors together with high levels of proteins and peptides, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals and ash.
It is considered essential for the initial immunological defense in the first weeks of life, as well as to the growth, development and maturation of the gastrointestinal tract in the newborn. All neonate mammals depend on the provision of colostrum to secure a safe start of life. The molecular structure of the bioactive factors are the practically the same in all mammals making colostrum bioidentical across species.
In recent years, much attention has been on the possible beneficial effects that bovine colostrum may provide to humans. Research using bovine colostrum as therapy on people with immune-deficiency syndromes, e.g. preterm infants and chemotherapy patients, NSAID-induced gastrointestinal disturbances, sport performance together with diarrhea and gut problems in general, all point to massive advantages from intake of bovine colostrum. The future prospects for using bovine colostrum as therapy against human disorders and diseases are massive and further research will establish the full potential.
On the following pages, the terms related to bioactivity indicate biological effects of nutrients beyond simple macronutrient and micronutrient supply, e.g. enhancement of nutrient absorption, growth stimulation, defense against pathogens, and modulation of the immune system.
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