Colostrum and IGF-1

By | October 9, 2008

Colostrum may be a cheap but reliable answer to increasing the amount of available growth factors for use by our bodies. For those who don’t know what colostrum is, it is a substance secreted by mammals for their newborn babies during the first few days after their birth. Soon afterwards, the mother’s mammary glands stop producing colostrum and it soon disappears from the diet of the newborns. This also explains why babies need mother’s milk, and those deprived of it tend to grow up weaker and with lesser immunity compared to their breast fed counterparts. And being the “first milk,” colostrum is the most valuable mother’s milk of all.

Assuming we could have colostrum on a daily basis, what would be its long term effects on our health? This was something I was curious to find out. So just recently, I began on a colostrum program of my own, in addition to what I was already taking, in order to determine if colostrum really could make a difference both in the way I felt, and my overall health. All colostrum being sold are derived from cows (bovine colostrum), which fortunately, has many similarities to human colostrum, and is relatively low cost to “produce.”

So far, I can’t describe colostrum as being a miracle worker, but I am aware that colostrum is said to have high concentrations of cytokines and growth factors, which as I mentioned, perform many important tasks in the overall framework of cellular health, and has vital roles in keeping aging at bay.

bovine colostrum

Many doctors unanimously agree that colostrum has many benefits for people of all ages, due to its unique composition. My personal view for now, is that colostrum may help to supplement the body with an additional supply of growth factors, transfer factors, and possibly increase IGF-1 levels, although medical tests have so far not been 100% conclusive.

Since many healthcare professionals concur that colostrum is highly useful in promoting better overall health, let’s examine some of the claims made with regards to colostrum. Colostrum reportedly:

  • Increases immune function
  • Promotes growth in infants
  • Is a rich source of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals
  • Contains transfer factors that raise immune response among all cells
  • Helps in some bowel problems like short bowel syndrome

Among the growth factors that are reportedly found in colostrum include IGF-1 and IGF-2, plus other growth factors like Fibroblast Growth Factor (EGF), Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), and Transforming Growth Factor (TGF), including various cytokines that help the cells coordinate and increase their immune response to pathogens.

As we know, IGF-1 is the main biomarker for HGH; the liver manufactures it from HGH, which is then used by the cells for their growing needs. If colostrum can help supply more IGF-1 to the body, then to me, its value is high, as there are only a few kinds of natural foods that can do this. Colostrum reportedly contains high levels of this vital growth factor, although there is still some doubt regarding its bioavailability in the body, as some tests imply.

For example, this oft quoted test done on a group of men in Australia implies that plasma IGF-1 levels did NOT increase following heavy administration of colostrum over 8 weeks, but that colostrum did improve anaerobic performance. Another test also bore the same results.

On the other hand, a Finnish study showed an increase of serum IGF-1 levels along with increased colostrum intake, which seems to contradict the two tests mentioned earlier. Also, tests done on lab animals have always demonstrated increased IGF-1 levels along with an intake of colostrum. Which makes sense, as to me, the only purpose in Nature’s plan of having growth factors in colostrum is to help the young animal to grow even more!

So, colostrum may raise IGF-1 levels, but there is still a need for more conclusive test results to confirm this. Due to its easy availability and relatively low cost, colostrum is very likely to be beneficial in virtually any anti aging program.

When buying colostrum, make sure that it is pasteurized, and has been processed using low heat methods. Also the environment in which the cows live, influence the quality of the colostrum they produce. A healthy environment helps in producing healthier cows with subsequently – better quality colostrum. You may also want to check to see if the colostrum you buy contains unnecessary additives which may hinder absorption of any nutrients or substances from the colostrum. Good quality colostrum whether in the form of pills or powder should contain all its nutrients in as intact a state as possible.