Colostrum is a milk-derived protein that mammals (like cows and humans) produced shortly after giving birth.
Basically, it’s super milk, milk in its healthiest form. 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.
However, there are many benefits local to the digestive tract.
Athletes often supplement colostrum in an effort to increase fat burning, add lean mass, or increase strength. Since their digestive systems are fully developed, these effects do not occur, and the body breaks down the growth factors and enzymes that colostrum provides before they can be transported to muscle cells.
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, a bacteria that contaminates 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.
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.
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, 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).
*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.
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 per for it than the CA Gold product.
Nonetheless, this is still a great option.
Cost per gram: $0.45
If you’re looking for a dairy-free option, Mt. Capra’s goat milk colostrum is the best option 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 healthier for you, the goats, and the environment.
That makes this product ideal for those avoiding dairy and for the carbon footprint-conscious among us (like me).
120, 400mg capsules
Cost per gram: $0.34
If you prefer capsules, then Jarrow Formulas has a colostrum product that’s standardized to 30% immunoglobulins. Even though it’s a little more expensive then some other capsule options, you’ll get more immunoglobulins per capsule.
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.
So for the lactose intolerant, this is your best 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.