Colostrum Research

Athletic Performance


Antonio J, Can Bovine Colostrum Enhance Levels of IGF-1? Muscle & Fitness (1998). Studies indicate that bovine colostrum supplementation can increase levels of IGF-1.

Antonio, J, Sanders, M and Van Gammeren, D. The Effects of Bovine Colostrum Supplementation on Body Composition and Exercise Performance in Active Men and Women. Nutrition 17(3):243-247 (2001). Supplementation with bovine colostrum (20 g/day) in combination with exercise training may increase bone-free lean body mass in active men and women. Study participants taking colostrum for eight weeks experienced a significant increase in lean body mass.

PubMed Reference    PMID:11312068

Bak JF, Moller N, Schmitz O. Effects of growth hormone on fuel utilization and muscle glycogen synthase activity in normal humans. American Journal of Physiology 260(5 pt 1):E736-E742 (1991).  Growth hormone increases energy expenditures and inhibits glucose oxidation in favor of increased lipid (fat) oxidation. GH also inhibits insulin-mediated activation of the glycogen synthase in skeletal muscle biopsies.

PubMed Reference    PMID:1903598

Berk LS, Nieman DC, Youngberg WS, Arabatzis K, Simpson-Westerberg M, Lee JW, Tan SA, Eby WC. The effect of long endurance running on natural killer cells in marathoners. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 22(2):207-212 (1989). Natural killer cells are lymphocytes which are specialized to seek out and kill foreign cells or infected host cells in a nonspecific manner.  They are important in both immunity and the body’s ability to eliminate cancerous cells before they become dangerous.  Studies were done on ten experienced marathon runners to see the effects of exercise on natural killer cell activity.  Natural killer cells were identified by means of surface markers characteristic of these cells.  Following three hours of exercise, natural killer cell activity was found to be markedly decreased at 1.5 and 6 hours post-exercise (as compared to pre-exercise levels), but at 21 hours the levels had returned to the pre-exercise levels.  This could indicate an increased susceptibility to infection following strenuous exercise.

PubMed Reference    PMID:90286868

Brinkworth GD, Buckley JD, Slavotinek JP, Kurmis AP. Effect of bovine colostrum supplementation on the composition of resistance trained and untrained limbs in healthy young men.  European Journal or Applied Physiology 91(1):53-60 (2004).  The tissue composition of resistance-trained limbs experienced a significantly greater increase in circumference and cross-sectional area in subjects taking colostrum (60 g/day for 8 weeks) than those taking whey protein.

PubMed Reference    PMID:14504943

Brinkworth GD, Buckley JD. Concentrated bovine colostrum supplementation reduces the incidence of self-reported symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection in adult males. European Journal of Nutrition 42(4):228-232 (2004).  This study provides preliminary evidence that concentrated bovine colostrum protein may enhance resistance to the development of symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections (URI).

PubMed Reference    PMID:12923655

Buckley JD, Abbott MJ, Brinkworth GD, Whyte PB. Bovine colostrum supplementation during endurance running training improves recovery, but not performance. Journal of Science, Medicine and Sport 5(2):65-79 (2002). Supplementation with colostrum did not increase plasma IGF-1 levels or improve performance during an initial bout of running. However, performance during a second bout of exercise may be improved by as much as 5.2% in the average subject after 8 weeks of colostrum supplementation, possibly due to an enhancement of recovery.

PubMed Reference    PMID:12188088

Buckley JD, Brinkworth GD, Abbott MJ. Effect of bovine colostrum on anaerobic exercise performance and plasma insulin-like growth factor I.  Journal of Sports Science 21(7):57-88 (2003).  Bovine colostrum supplementation during training significantly increased peak anaerobic power, but had no significant effect on alactic anaerobic work capacity, 1RM or plasma IGF-1.

PubMed Reference    PMID:12848392

Buckley JD, Abbott M, Martin S, Brinkworth G, Whyte P. Effect of An Oral Bovine Colostrum Supplement on Running Performance. 1998 Australian Conference of Science and Medicine in Sport, Adelaide, South Australia.  Double-blind, placebo controlled study to determine effect of supplementation with a low fat, low lactose, concentrated bovine colostrum powder on plasma IgF-1 concentrations and endurance running performance. Supplementation with bovine colostrum improves the ability to perform a second bout of maximal exercise following a relatively short period of recovery from a prior bout of maximal exercise.

Buckley, JD, et al. Bovine colostrum supplementation during training increases vertical jump performance.  2000 Pre-Olympic Congress, Sports Medicine and Physical Education, International Congress on Sport Science, Brisbane, Australia.  In a randomized, double-blind placebo study, 51 active males received 8 weeks of training while consuming 60 grams/day of colostrum (experimental group) or 60 grams/day of  whey protein powder (control group).  IGF-1 levels in both groups remained unchanged from baseline, but vertical jump performance in the experimental increased 3.0 ±0.6 cm and only 1.3 ±0.7 cm in the control group.

Burke ER.  Colostrum as an Athletic Enhancer and Help for AIDS.  Nutrition Science News, May, 1996.  A review article which discusses the role of colostrum in athletics as well as its benefits for AIDS patients.  With regard to athletics, the article focuses on the roles of growth hormones, specifically insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), as well as epidermal growth factor (EGF), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), in relation to muscle development in athletes.  It also discusses colostrum’s effect on leaky gut syndrome, a common problem in the general population, but of particular concern to athletes who perform at their best when they can utilize all the nutrients they take in.  It is hypothesized that “sealing” the leaky gut would increase energy levels and smooth out performance, especially for those athletes who experience irritable bowel syndrome as a result of incomplete digestion due to protein supplementation.

Clark J.F. Creatine and Phosphocreatine: A Review of Their Use in Exercise and Sport. Journal of Athletic Training 32(1):45-51 (1997).  Creatine and phosphocreatine are important compounds in the normal energy metabolism of muscle.  Supplementation with creatine or phosphocreatine can enhance anaerobic exercise performance in athletes.

PubMed Reference    PMID:16558432

Coombs JS, Conacher M, Austen SK, Marshall PA. Dose effects of oral bovine colostrum on physical work capacity in cyclists. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 34(7):1184-1188 (2002).  Oral bovine colostrum supplementation at 20 grams or 60 grams per day provided an improvement in time trial performance in cyclists after a 2 hour ride at 65% VO2 max. Improvements in performance times were: 37 seconds faster for placebo group, 158 seconds faster for 60 g/d colostrum group and 134 seconds faster for 60 g/d colostrum group.

PubMed Reference    PMID:12131260

Crooks CV, Wall CR, Cross ML, Rutherfurd-Markwick KJ. The effect of bovine colostrum supplementation on salivary IgA in distance runners.  International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 16(1):47-64 (2006).  Secretory Immunoglobulin A (s-IgA) is a possible indicator of upper respiratory infection (URI) status.  35 runners, both male and female, aged 35-58 years, received either bovine colostrum or placebo supplementation for 12 weeks.  Saliva samples were taken prior to training, monthly during supplementation, and 2 weeks post-supplementation.  Median levels of s-IgA increased 79% in the colostrum group after the 12 weeks of supplementation.

PubMed Reference    PMID:16676703

Hofman Z, Smeets R, Verlaan G, Lugt R, Verstappen PA. The effect of bovine colostrum supplementation on exercise performance in elite field hockey players.  International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 12(4):461-469 (2002).  A double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled study on the effects of colostrum supplementation compared to milk whey on body composition and exercise performance of 17 female and 18 male elite field hockey players.  Results showed a significant increase in sprint test performance while vertical jump performance, body composition and endurance tests were similar in both experimental and test groups.

PubMed Reference    PMID:12500989

Kersick CM, Rasmussen C, Lancaster S, Starks M, Smith P, Melton C, Greenwood M, Almada A, Kreider R. Impact of differing protein sources and a creatine containing nutritional formula after 12 weeks of resistance training.  Nutrition 23(9):647-656 (2007).  Various combinations of colostrum (Col), a casein/whey protein control (Pro), and creatine (Cr) were given to 49 resistance-trained subjects for 12 weeks.  Supplements provided 60 grams per day of Pro or Col.  Subjects were weighed, had body composition determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and did one repetition maximum on bench press, leg press and 30 second anaerobic sprint capacity tests.  Resistance training increased one repetition maximum, and muscle endurance and sprint capacity increased equally for all groups.  Subjects receiving Pro/Col, Pro/Cr, and Col/Cr showed greater gains in body mass and DXA total scanned mass compared to Pro alone.  Those receiving Pro/Cr and Col/Cr had greater increases in fat-free mass during training in comparison to Pro/Col.

PubMed Reference    PMID:17679046

Kuipers H, van Breda E, Verlaan G, Smeets R. Effects of oral bovine colostrum supplementation on serum insulin-like growth factor-I levels. Nutrition 18(7-8):566-567 (2002).  Daily supplementation with 60 grams of bovine colostrum for 4 weeks does not change blood IGF-I level and does not elicit positive results on drug tests.

PubMed Reference    PMID:12093430

Leppäluoto, A, et al. Bovine colostrum supplementation enhances physical performance on maximal exercise tests2000 Pre-Olympic Congress Sports Medicine and Physical Education, International Congress on Sport Science, Brisbane, Australia.  The effect of colostrum supplementation on maximal oxygen uptake and flight times in jump tests was studied in 10 young athletes in a double-blind placebo study.  After 12 days, oxygen uptake in the placebo group declined 7% while remaining steady in the colostrum group.  Flight times declined for the placebo group in the counter movement and squat jumps while remaining the same or only slightly less for the colostrum group.  The results indicate that colostrum supplementation improves running and jumping performance in young athletes.

Liang L, Ding YQ. [Effect of cytokines on repair of tendon injury.] Zhongguo Xiu Fu Chong Jian Wai Ke Za Zhi (Chinese) 14(5):283-285 (2000).  Cytokines possibly can accelerate tendon repair and show great potentials in future clinical application.

PubMed Reference    PMID:12516476

Lycholat, T. Dairy colostrum: the new creatine?  FitPro Magazine, August/September, 2003. Despite limited research on the benefits of colostrum supplementation, enough evidence has been produced by various independent laboratories to support the hypothesis that colostrum can promote small but significant and lasting improvement in work capacity and faster recovery as well as the ability to increase non-fat body mass coupled with the lack of doping results make colostrum a very attractive choice for the serious athlete.

Mero A, Miikkulainen H, Riski J, Pakkanen R, Aalto J, Takala T. Effects of bovine colostrum supplementation on serum IGF-1, IgG, hormone, and saliva IgA during training.  Journal of Applied Physiology 83(4):1144-1151 (1997).  Bovine colostrum supplement may increase serum IGF-1 concentration in athletes during strength and speed training.

PubMed Reference     PMID:97479511

Mero A, Kahkonen J, Nykanen T, Parviainen T, Jokinen I, Takala T, Nikula T, Rasi S, Leppaluoto J. IGF-I, IgA, and IgG responses to bovine colostrum supplementation during training.  Journal of Applied Physiology 93(2):732-739 (2002). Significant increases were noticed in serum IGF-1 and saliva IgA after bovine colostrum supplementation (20 g daily) during a 2 week training period.

PubMed Reference    PMID:12133885

Mero A, Nykanen T, Keinanen O, Knuutinen J, Lahti K, Alen M, Rasi S, Leppaluoto J. Protein metabolism and strength performance after bovine colostrum supplementation.  Amino Acids 28(3):327-335 (2005). The study was designed to determine the response of muscle protein, serum amino acids and strength performance to supplementation with bovine colostrum.  A rest group and an exercise group were further broken down into experimental and control subjects.  Experimental groups received 20 grams of colostrum per day for two weeks, while the control groups received 20 grams of maltodextrin per day as a placebo.  In the exercise experimental group, serum amino acid levels increased as did muscle protein synthesis and breakdown (compared to placebo), but no difference in strength performance, indicating that while colostrum supplementation did not lead to greater strength performance, it did promote recovery after exercise.

PubMed Reference    PMID:15789141

Molloy T, Wang Y, Murrell G. The roles of growth factors in tendon and ligament healing. Sports Medicine 33(5):381-394 (2003). Growth factors represent one of the most important of the molecular families involved in healing, and this review elucidates their many functions. This review covers IGF-1, TGF-b, VEGF, PDGF and FGF.

PubMed Reference    PMID:12696985

Nieman DC, Berk LS, Simpson-Westerberg M, Arabatzis K, Youngberg S, Tan SA, Lee JW, Eby WC. Effects of long-endurance running on immune system parameters and lymphocyte function in experienced marathoners. International Journal of Sports Medicine 10(5):317-323 (1989). Marathon runners showed significant changes in white blood cell counts after a 3 hour run, but most returned to normal levels after 21 hours (post-exercise).

PubMed Reference    PMID:2599719

Sato K, Li Y, Foster W, Fukushima K, Badlani N, Adachi N, Usas A, Fu FH, Huard J. Improvement of muscle healing through enhancement of muscle regeneration and prevention of fibrosis. Muscle Nerve 28(3):365-372 (2003).  Skeletal muscle is able to repair itself through regeneration. However, an injured muscle often does not fully recover its strength because the process is hindered. IGF-1 can improve muscle healing and regeneration.

PubMed Reference    PMID:12929198

Schwade, S. Insulin-like growth factors.  Muscle & Fitness (1992). This potent growth stimulant found in mother’s milk may help big boys grow bigger.  Human muscle cells have a high affinity for IGF-1.

Shawn, D. Ironman, August, 1992.  Article on positive effects of growth factors in bovine colostrum with weight lifting and athletic endurance.

Shing CM, Jenkins DG, Stevenson L, Coombes JS. The influence of bovine colostrum supplementation on exercise performance in highly trained cyclists.  British Journal of Sports Medicine 40(9):797-801 (2006).  29 highly trained male road cyclists underwent preliminary testing for 7 days, including a VO(2max) test to determine ventilation threshold, a time to fatigue test at 110% of ventilation threshold, and a 40 km time trial.  The group was then divided into an experimental group which received 10 grams of bovine colostrum protein concentrate (CPC) per day and a placebo group which received 10 grams of whey protein concentrate per day.  Both groups resumed their normal training regimen for 5 weeks.  They were then retested and underwent 5 days of high intensity training and again retested.  The effect of CPC supplementation during normal training showed no significant difference compared to placebo, but after the period of high intensity training there was a significant increase in all performance measurements, time trial performance, time trial intensity (% VO(2 max)), and heart rate during the time trial.  CPC supplementation also prevented a decrease in ventilatory threshold during the high intensity training period.

PubMed Reference    PMID:16825268

Shing CM, Peake J, Suzuki K, Okutsu M, Pereira R, Stevenson L, Jenkins DG, Coombes JS. Effects of bovine colostrum supplementation on immune variables in highly trained cyclists.  Journal of Applied Physiology 102(3):1113-1122 (2007). 29 highly trained road cyclists completed a 40 km time trial and then were separated in experimental and placebo test groups.  The experimental group was given 10 grams of  bovine colostrum protein concentrate (CPC) per day, and the placebo group received 10 grams of whey protein concentrate per day.   After 5 weeks of supplementation, the riders were retested on the 40 km course.  Then they received 5 days of high intensity training and completed a final 40 km time trial.  Blood samples were collected before and after each time trial and tested for various immune variables.  Upper respiratory illness (URI) symptoms were recorded over the entire experimental period.  Compared to the placebo group, the experimental group which received the CPC significantly increased pre-exercise tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor 1.  Supplementation with CPC also significantly suppressed the decrease in cytotoxic/suppressor T cells commonly seen in athletes post-exercise.  Those in the experimental group also demonstrated a trend towards a reduced incidence of URI symptoms.  In summary, CPC supplementation modulates immune parameters during normal training and after an acute period of intense exercise, which may contribute to lower URI incidence.

PubMed Reference    PMID:17095643

Smeets R, et al.    Oral supplementation with bovine colostrum improves sprint performance in elite field hockey players.  Presented at 23rd NSCA National Conference and Exhibition, Orlando (2000).  After 8 weeks of colostrum supplementation, elite field hockey players improved significantly in the 5 x 10 metres sprint compared to the whey group.

Sparling PB, Nieman DC, O'Connor PJ. Selected scientific aspects of marathon racing : an update on fluid replacement, immune function, psychological factors and the gender difference. Sports Medicine. 15(2):116-132 (1993).  A review article examining four aspects of marathon racing: fluid replacement, immune function, psychological factors and gender difference.  Of interest is data which indicate that marathon runners have increased susceptibility to infectious disease following training and races.  This susceptibility can be reduced through proper nutrition, adequate sleep, sufficient recovery between workouts, and avoidance of exposure to sick people during periods of heavy training and competition.  Colostrum supplementation decreases recovery time as well as increases immune functioning, thus reducing this susceptibility for marathon runners and other athletes involved in strenuous exercise.

PubMed Reference    PMID:93189945

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