A new trial from Poland has found that bovine colostrum can reduce risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) in young adults working in situations that subject them to “a heightened risk of infection.”
The study, conducted on non-athlete medical students, adds to a body of research that had previously concentrated on athletes.
The researchers concluded that the same properties that were found to protect active athletes extended to other young adults. In this case, the “other young adults” were not only non-athletes, but were also at increased risk of developing URTIs due to their long work hours, stress level, and exposure to infections in their work environment.
The double-blind clinical trial was conducted at Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Poland, and was published in Nutrients in March 2023.
What is bovine colostrum?
Colostrum is the first milk produced post-partum by mammals and is compositionally distinct from mature milk. Since it is produced during the first few days after giving birth, it has a unique composition of essential nutrients, growth factors, antibodies and oligosaccharides that benefit the newborn.
Because of these extra-potent nutrients, especially in regards to immune support, bovine colostrum has a long history of consumption by humans. There have been a number of studies investigating its potential for applications in human health, and it has been used as an immune-building nutritional supplement for decades.
Since previous studies had already proven colostrum an effective immune boosting agent in athletic populations, the researchers involved in the new study specifically wanted to investigate effectiveness in non-athlete test subjects.
To this end the trial was conducted on a “homogenous population of medical students,” which the researchers categorized as high-risk. The high risk status was due to the group’s heavy workload and increased contact with infectious agents and persons.
The symptom measured in the study was upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs).
URTIs were chosen because they are not only a common medical condition, but because they also affect people of all ages and can cause numerous types of inflammation: rhinitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis.
Also, despite their common occurrence, URTIs can cause serious disruptions to the lives of affected individuals and present a challenge for healthcare systems.
“Our trial is the first ever attempt to test the relationship between colostrum supplementation and URTI occurrence in the relatively uniform adult population of a non-athletic background,” the researchers wrote in the study introduction.
To conduct the study, participants were supplemented with a low dose of bovine colostrum or placebo over a period of 107 days.
The amount of colostrum (or placebo in the placebo group) that participants received each day was 0.5–1.0 gram, depending on which period of the study they were in.
For the first 15 days, participants took two doses of the supplement with water per day; for the next 30 days, they took one dose per day. At the end of the two periods (45 days) the supplementation was suspended. Then, if participants observed symptoms of a URTI, they were instructed to take four consecutive doses of the supplement.
Test subjects were then monitored through daily online questionnaires about URTI symptoms, well-being, and potential gastrointestinal side effects.
Results showed that colostrum supplementation significantly reduced the frequency and severity of URTI symptoms in the high-risk group, and improved the subjects’ overall well-being perception.
The authors concluded: “Our trial brings new insight to the issue of colostrum effectiveness by providing evidence that, in contrast to the general healthy population of young adults, the subpopulation of those exposed to certain challenges which increase the risk of developing URTIs, can significantly benefit from using colostrum supplementation.”
Another recent study of bovine colostrum found the nutrient was able to overcome leaky gut syndrome by strengthening gut cells and maintaining their natural cell-contact proteins. This action prevented excessive leakage of luminal contents through the layer of the gut lining that acts as a natural barrier.
That study, conducted at Barts and The London School of Medicine, was published in Nutrients in March 2021.
Find colostrum in the following Optimal Health Systems products:
• Optimal Defense
• Natural Z Pak
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Sources: Nutrients (2023 study), Nutrients (2021 study), Food & Agricultural Immunology.