Colostrum is a milk-derived protein that mammals (like cows and humans) produced shortly after giving birth.
Basically, it’s super milk. It contains enzymes, antibodies, and growth factors that improve the immune system. It also contains a potent amount of lactoferrin, which we covered in this article on the best lactoferrin supplements.
Colostrum supplements typically come from cow’s milk, but there are also goat milk colostrum products.
Okay, here’s where we have to dispel some myths.
Colostrum supplements don’t seem to increase fat burning, add lean mass, or increase strength. In adults, at least. That’s because our digestive systems are fully developed, so our body breaks down the colostrum before it gets into our muscles.
Athletes often supplement colostrum in an effort to increase fat burning, add lean mass, or increase strength. Since their digestive systems are fully developed, they don’t get these effects. The body breaks down the growth factors and enzymes in colostrum before they can be transported to muscle cells.
However, there are many benefits local to the digestive tract and gut health.
The strongest link in the research of colostrum is in improving digestive health.
More specifically, colostrum relieves diarrhea symptoms in two specific instances. First, from diarrhea caused by E. coli, bacteria that contaminate food, and what we can broadly call food poisoning.
The second is HIV-induced diarrhea from cryptosporidium parvum, another specific bacteria.
Separate from this, one study using a colostrum enema, found that it improved colitis (colon inflammation) symptoms, suggesting that its digestive benefits may be more broad.
When our gut has high “intestinal permeability” this means more things “leak through” that should otherwise be absorbed, like water and nutrients.
Some research on oral supplementation of bovine colostrum suggested that, as a simple supplement, it can reduce intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut.”
Even more, this study was done on athletes, and the potential to improve gut health in those training hard, may equate to improved athletic performance.
Any other benefits relating to muscle, anaerobic capacity, and fat loss, all come from the simple fact that colostrum is protein, and protein helps with all of these.
So if that’s your main reason for taking colostrum, focus your efforts on something like whey protein. For that, check out our list of the best lactose-free protein powders.
When looking at the research as a whole, most of the digestive benefits come at a dose of 400-3500mg of immunoglobulins. Most colostrum products are standardized to 20% immunoglobulins (igg), which means you should take a dose of at least 2 grams, all the way up to 17.5 grams.
You can get the lower end of this in capsule form in many supplements, but to get an effective dose, you’ll need more. Practically speaking, a powder is the easiest way to get the most effective dose.
That’s why the top products on our list are powders, which are tasteless and easily mix into protein shakes or smoothies, instead of capsules.
The supplement industry is unregulated by the FDA, which means it’s full of crap. Companies can (and often do) put ingredients in the products that aren’t on the label.
That’s why it’s crucial at a minimum to only get products that are GMP-approved (good manufacturing practices). Every product on our list is third-party tested.
With all of this out of the way, here are the best colostrum supplements available.
*Note: We do have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you purchase from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Best Overall: California Gold Nutrition Concentrated Colostrum Powder
Best Non-Dairy: Mt. Capra Goat Milk Colostrum
Best Lactose-Free: AOR All-Life Colostrum
Best Capsule: Jarrow Formulas Colostrum Prime Life
Cost per gram: $0.10
California Gold brings one of the best values and highest-quality colostrum products on the market. At just 10 cents per gram, it’s the best value by a lot.
The one addition to their simple formula is a lipid coating, which may help protect the colostrum as it goes through the digestive system, although its effects still likely center on the digestive tract. This may improve bioavailability.
CA Gold sources their colostrum from USDA Grade A Dairy cows and contains no rBST and no antibiotics
This product is gluten-free, non-GMO, and soy-free.
It even comes with a 100% guarantee.
For all of these reasons, California Gold Colostrum is our top pick.
Cost per gram: $0.24
Symbiotics Colostrum Plus Powder has the advantage of 25% immunoglobulin antibodies compared to the standard 20%. However, you’re still paying more for it than the CA Gold product.
Nonetheless, this is still a great option.
It’s gluten-free and non-GMO.
Cost per gram: $0.45
If you’re looking for a dairy-free option, Mt. Capra’s goat milk colostrum is the best on the market.
While it’s much more expensive per gram than the other products on our list, it’s still comparable price-wise to many capsule options. And, their goats are grass-fed, which is better for you, the goats, and the environment.
That makes this product ideal for those avoiding dairy and for the carbon footprint-conscious among us.
120, 400mg capsules
Cost per gram: $0.34
If you prefer capsules, then Jarrow Formulas has a colostrum product that’s standardized to a very high 30% immunoglobulins. Even though it’s a little more expensive than some other capsule options, you’ll get more immunoglobulins per capsule. This makes it overall a better value.
To support the bioavailability, Colostrum Prime Life® uses DRcaps® (delayed release capsules) to minimize the denaturation of the immunoglobulins.
90, 500mg capsules
Cost per gram: $0.30
NOW Food’s Super Colostrum contains additional ingredients for immune system support, like olive leaf extract, and astragalus root.
So if you prefer capsules, and are using colostrum for immune support, this is a great option.
120, 500mg capsules
Cost per gram: $0.75
While this product is more expensive, it’s probably the overall highest quality on our list, and also the only lactose-free option. They filter out the lactose in their process.
AOR also argues that it contains more immunoglobulins, but they don’t specify the percentage. They say this is because their cows get exposed to more temperatures, which results in higher immune factor concentrations, but without a percentage, we can’t verify that.
For the lactose intolerant, this is your best option. It’s has no allergens or fillers, making this a clean option.
120, 725mg capsules
Cost per gram: $0.52
Mt. Capra also has a capsule option. Each capsule contains a high dose of 725mg, so the cost per gram comes out to a reasonable price.
Again, like their powder, it’s a grass-fed goat milk product.
Most colostrum comes from cows. Even though it’s the protein, most of the time it still contains lactose.
Even goat’s milk options typically contain lactose.
However, there are lactose-free cow-derived options, where the lactose is filtered out, like AOR Colostrum.
Take it on an empty stomach, since it interplays with the gut. One of the most common minor side effects of colostrum supplementation is an upset stomach. It makes sense to take colostrum powder in the morning.
While colostrum plays a role in supporting the GI tract, it’s not a probiotic. Probiotic are live, “healthy bacteria” that may also support gut health.
With that said, it may have some similar benefits.
Colostrum is often marketed as a supplement that improves immune function. However, the story is more complicated than this. While there is a diverse scientific literature discussing the immune benefits of colostrum, most of this research is on infants. Now, if you’re an infant, and have learned how to read very young, then we do recommend your “first milk” colostrum. If you’re not an infant, then in terms of immune health benefits, it’s not clear.
Colostrum supplements that are marketed as “anti-aging” supplements stretch this even further. The research doesn’t suggest that bovine colostrum supplements will extend lifespan. If you’re interested longevity, I recommend looking into supplements like NMN and berberine.