Bovine Colostrum: Can it improve athletic performance?

Colostrum has been around since mammals inhabited the earth, and has been used for centuries to treat infection. The ancient Egyptians reportedly used colostrum to treat eye infections; While in recent times, colostrum has been used to treat viral infections and parasitic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. More recently, scientists have proposed that colostrum could enhance athletic performance.

Colostrum contains growth factors (naturally occurring substances that stimulate growth) which can stimulate protein synthesis (formation of protein) and growth in skeletal muscle (the muscle we can see and feel through our skin). An increase in protein synthesis and growth of skeletal muscle can enhance an athletes ability to recover from intense training, improve their endurance, reduce their production of lactic acid, and increase the growth of fast-twitch muscle fibres (fast contracting muscle fibres, specific for sprinting). For example, in 2002, a group of competitive road cyclists were administered a colostrum supplement, 2 hours prior to sub-maximal (working at 85 to 95 percent of race speed) exercise (100 km cycle). This was followed by a performance test based on the time taken to do a set amount of work (40 km time trial). The results showed that colostrum supplementation (10 grams daily for 5 weeks) improved endurance performance, in competitive road cyclists, by 2.2 percent and increased their VO2 Max (the maximum amount of oxygen that can be used during exercise-which is vital in improving athletic endurance) by 6 percent. Moreover, when colostrum supplementation (60 grams daily for 8 weeks) was administered to endurance runners their recovery time was improved by 5.2 percent. Despite being run to exhaustion, when asked to complete a second 30 minute incremental treadmill running test, runners using colostrum supplementation were shown to increase their peak running speed by 4 percent. Additional studies have also shown that 8 weeks of low dose (10 grams daily) bovine colostrum can increase the 50 metre sprint time of elite hockey players.

Although the exact mechanisms underpinning the effects of colostrum remain unknown, it is clear that colostrum supplementation can have a marked influence on athletic performance. If you have any questions relating to this topic or any other health related concerns please write to


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