Decoding Colostrum Supplements: 7 Factors You Can't Ignore

Decoding Colostrum Supplements: 7 Factors You Can't Ignore

Purchasing high-quality colostrum can feel like navigating the wild west, so we've created a comprehensive guide outlining the five essential factors to consider when selecting a colostrum supplement.

1. The Source 

There can be large differences between colostrum quality depending on its country of origin.

For example, one study found that almost 60% of colostrum produced on US farms did not meet the minimum immunolgiocal criteria (1). Alarmingly however, the majority of the worlds colostrum is sourced from the US given it is much cheaper per/kg.

Given the majority of US cattle are mostly grain-fed and factory raised, this is not surprising the majority of colostrum does not meet the requirements.

Although Australia isn't a bad source of colostrum, we were surpised to discover that, in comparison to beef-producing cattle, many dairy cattle in Australia are fed a bit too much grain, which doesn't align with our sourcing requirements.

When it comes to sourcing colostrum, we believe the gold standard is New Zealand. Here it is common practice for cattle to be grass-fed and pasture raised. Lands are also often untouched making the soil nutrient dense. NZ based colostrum can sometimes be double the price per/kg when compared to the US.

2. Drying Method Used

While more advanced drying methods do a good job of maintaining colostrums bio-active nutrients, other methods using harsher processing temperatures can destroy the amazing bio-active compounds colostrum has to offer. Look for a supplement that specifies it uses low thermal processing or freeze drying.

One of the hall marks of a high quality colostrum supplement is that it contains an IgG (immunoglobulin) minimum of 20%. IgGs are known for their amazing immune and gut boosting benefits. However, they can be sensitive to heat.

When harsher processing methods are used to dry colostrum into a powder, this process can lead to the presence of aggregated and denatured IgG. This means that the IgG may possess minimal to no immune activity.

The presense of aggregated or denatured IgG can then affect the accuracy of the most commonly used HPLC testing method, which is turn can lead to inflated IgG counts on supplements

Simply put, a product claiming 20% IgG might be closer to 15% IgG if the processing method used is harsh. Likewise, the higher the percentage claimed the more likely it will contained denatured IgG if the drying process is harsh. That is why products claiming 25-30% IgG content are often closer to 20% and contain more denated material.

Low thermal processing ensure more active IgG and more accurate reporting of IgG counts. On appearance, if the colostrum does not look cream coloured or off white, it most likely was processed too harshly.

3. Dosage of Colostrum

The next thing to look out for is dosage. 

The majority of companies selling colostrum either provide a dose which is too small or a dose which is too large.

While studies show that as little as 500mg of colostrum can help reduce intestinal permeability, it is most likely not enough to attain all the other amazing benefits associated with colostrum.

Unfortunately, most colostrum supplements are 500mg to 1g servings.

In contrast, doses above 5g start to become a bit of a concern in terms of quality and source. Given how expensive high quality NZ colostrum is as a raw ingredient, larger serving sizes above 5g will often be sourced from the US and are typically of lower quality. They could also be cut with things like milk powder to add bulk.

Therefore, a serving size around 2-4 grams is most likely the sweet spot as this is typically a high enough dose to experience the full spectrum of benefits while also a smaller enough dose not to be concerned about quality.

4. Form of Colostrum

Colostrum supplements often come in 3 different forms which are powder, capsules and sometimes tablet.

Powder form is what you want to look for. This is because the loose powder has benefits for the oral mucosa. Colostrum also tastes pretty good and can be added to smoothies, yoghurt or water.

Capsules and tablets are slightly redundant as you will need to take 6-8 capsules to just get a 3g serving size. You will also miss out on the benefits of having colostrum nourish your oral mucosa.

Companies selling colostrum in capsule or tablet form will likely be selling them as 500mg-1g serving size meaning you will only get 10-15 serves if you want to use colostrum at a larger and more effective dose.

5. Testing of Colostrum

The last thing is often difficult to find when it comes to colostrum supplements but try and look for a supplement which has had some testing done.

At a bare minimum make sure that the IgG has been tested.

The very top tier companies will also test for IgA, IgM, IGF-I, IGF-II, TGF-β1, TGF-β2 as well as vitamin and mineral content in rare circumstances.

Testing ensures that you know you are getting what you paid for. Companies who provide testing results are often more expensive but it is definitely worth the assurances you are getting.

6. The Cost

When it comes to colostrum, you get what you pay for.

Colostrum is a scare resource and is only collected during calving season. It cannot be collected at just any time. As a result, the raw material is incredibly expensive when it comes from a high quality source.

Companies will also have to source colostrum from multiple different farms given not all farms will be able to provide the quantity needed to produce the supplemental form.

You will be typically looking to spend $69-$109 on a high quality colostrum supplement. For many companies, it is simply is not viable to sell it below with price point. For example, per kg - colostrum sourced from New Zealand is almost double the price of that sourced from the US.

7. Animal Welfare

When it comes to colostrum, animal welfare is incredibly important.

You want to ensure that any colostrum supplement you buy gets their colostrum from suppliers who treat their cattle with kindness and puts animal welfare first.

Surplus colostrum should be the only type of colostrum collected. This means that the calf gets all the colostrum it needs to develop and only then does the remainder get collected and used for supplementation.

Similarly, colostrum should only ever collected during calving season. Avoid colostrum which comes from farmed dairy or where the cows may get artificially birthed.


1. Morrill KM, Conrad E, Lago A, Campbell J, Quigley J, Tyler H. Nationwide evaluation of quality and composition of colostrum on dairy farms in the United States. J Dairy Sci. 2012;95(7):3997-4005

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