Monday, June 4, 2018

Probiotics and Colostrum - Naturally

Why Colostrum and Probiotics? Look to Nature

R.H. Bennett Ph.D.
Applied Life Sciences LLC

It was from a hands-on experience many decades ago, that I came to appreciate probiotics and colostrum was Nature’s way.  The birth of a calf or foal was an experience I had many times as a young person, and so when I was present to this miracle as a scientist, I saw it with familiar yet trained eyes.

Within minutes of its first breath, a foal or a calf is up and nosing around mom looking for food.  At birth, the youngʻen gets inoculated with the microflora of the birth canal, and minutes later the baby gets more microbes from the nipple.  This occurs when each time the baby nurses.   One the first day or so, the liquid from the udder is colostrum.

Colostrum is an amazing soup.  It has high-energy milk fat, vitamin A and more.  It has a high concentration of antibodies critical for powerful passive immune protection.  It has immune factors that engage the neonatal immune system to empower active cellular immunity.   The transfer of momʻs immune memory occurs here.  We call these specific information peptides, transfer factors.  All colostrum of all species contains all these factors and more.


There is so much more to tell of colostrum and will do so in the future.  However, for now, let's look at the role of colostrum constituents with the microbiome.

Immune Globulin G or IgG and other immune factors (4,5)

IgG in colostrum is targeted to bind up specific microbes that may be harmful to the microbiome and the newborn.  Once bound up the microbe cannot attach and persist and is swept out.  In short, it helps the balance of the ecosystem.

Lactoferrin (5,6)

Lactoferrin is an iron-binding peptide that also has broad immune modulating functions in the gut.  In the gut, it binds up any free iron and thus deprives specific harmful microbes of the iron they need for enzymes that produce energy substrates needed for growth.


These are complex carbohydrates that the animal cannot digest but a certain member of the microbiome, specifically the Bifidobacteria actively consume as they proliferate in the gut.  These are in effect prebiotics (3). 


This milk sugar is also food for the microbiome, and many species of bacteria use lactose very efficiently.  In this regard, it is a prebiotic too.   Microbes use lactose and produce Latic Acid.  This lowers the pH of the gut, and that helps regulate the microbiome too.

Immune peptides (2,4,6)

There are quite many immune peptides, glycopeptides, and cytokines in colostrum.  All of these have a considerable role in maturing and activating the immune system of the neonate.   Many members of the microbiome have similar and symbiotic roles in the regulation of the immune system.

            Grow Factors

There are many growth factors in colostrum. They have a wide range of functions, including establishing gut integrity (1).

Note:  There clearly appears to be an increase in the research on milk and colostrum bioactive compounds.  Of the citations in the above section, all were published since 2000. As this trend continues we will keep the readers apprised and we should all promote the necessity of breastfeeding for the vitality of all children.

Combining Colostrum with Probiotics

From my experience and training, it made perfect sense to me to combine colostrum and or colostrum components in any probiotic product.  The synergy is undeniable.  However, our first formulation did not contain colostrum, more than likely for market economic reasons.

The second formulation some many years later, it was my view was a combination prebiotic-probiotic indeed must contain colostrum too.  After all, it had many factors that are there in nature needed for the microbiome.  To make a long story short, people who were not immunologists or microbiologists, could not appreciate the good a probiotic with colostrum could bring to people with “troubled microbiomes."  Who are those people?  Just about anyone on a traditional high carbohydrate, high fat, high sugar, Western Diet.

What is on the Market?

Well, it should not be too surprising to find at least four companies are making a probiotic that contains colostrum or colostrum components.   In the last 10 years, the world’s colostrum production shifted from New Zealand to the Western United States.  With industry consolidation, most all colostrum collection, processing, and production is controlled by an Arizona company.

  According to the US Dairy Export Council, the APS Biogroup is the world’s largest colostrum processor.  Their website reveals they do custom colostrum and colostrum containing products for a number of international and US companies.  There is a reasonable likelihood that the Arizona firm produces the colostrum found in most commercial retail products.

 Figure 1. Probiotic products containing colostrum currently on the market

Table 1.  A comparison of probiotic products containing colostrum/fractions
Probiotics – HATS*
4Life Research
Five Typed Strains – Yes
100 mg 1
Three Species - ?
Rice sols, FOS 200mg
1400 mg2
Five Typed Strains some HATS
800 mg2
Six Species -?
One Species-?

*HATS Human Adapted Targeted Symbiotic, 1 Ultrafiltrate of colostrum with defatted colostrum added dried, 2 Defatted colostrum dried, Strains: genus and species with strain ID, Species: Genus species only, no strain ID, therefore, HATS indeterminable

The data in Table 1 is from the product labels, and it shows some very distinct differences between the products.  While the ChildLife product contains the most colostrum, it has un-typed strains and a low concentration of prebiotics.  The Symbiotics product has typed strains some or all of which maybe HATS.   As a synbiotic, the 4Life products are the best combination of HATS strains and prebiotic type and dose.  These prebiotics are known from in vitro research[3] to facilitate the growth of the strains in the product[4]. The dosage of colostrum or one of its components is low compared to the others.

In many situations, it may be advantageous to add additional colostrum/components to the daily dietary supplement regimen.  Many companies in the West sell such colostrum supplements. The rationale to do so arises from the components in colostrum that synergize with the microbes of the microbiome.  In particular the 4Life synbiotic can be augmented by the addition of one or more of their colostrum containing products. One recommended product for this purpose is Transfer Factor Classic; it contains 600 mg of colostrum and colostrum components, in the daily dosage.

Take Home Message

Probiotics, prebiotics, and colostrum are nature’s way to jump-start the microbiome.  It may well be going back to nature in this simple way the microbiome can be rejuvenated and restored at a time we not so young folks need it the most.
1.     Blum, J. W., and C. R. Baumrucker. "Colostral and milk insulin-like growth factors and related substances: mammary gland and neonatal (intestinal and systemic) targets." Domestic animal endocrinology 23.1-2 (2002): 101-110.

2.     German, J. Bruce, Cora J. Dillard, and Robert E. Ward. "Bioactive components in milk." Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 5.6 (2002): 653-658.

3.     Gopal, Pramod K., and H. S. Gill. "Oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates in bovine milk and colostrum." British Journal of Nutrition 84.S1 (2000): 69-74.

4.     Jørgensen, Ann Louise Worsøe, Helle Risdahl JuulMadsen, and Jan Stagsted. "Colostrum and bioactive, colostral peptides differentially modulate the innate immune response of intestinal epithelial cells." Journal of Peptide Science 16.1 (2010): 21-30.

5.     Stelwagen, K., et al. "Immune components of bovine colostrum and milk." Journal of animal science 87.suppl_13 (2009): 3-9.

6.     Van Hooijdonk, Antonius CM, K. D. Kussendrager, and J. M. Steijns. "In vivo antimicrobial and antiviral activity of components in bovine milk and colostrum involved in non-specific defence." British Journal of Nutrition 84.S1 (2000): 127-134.

[3] Dr. C. Oberg Weber State University in vitro (lab culture methods) unpublished research
[4] Disclaimer. In a former position, the author was part of the research and development team for the product.

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