Colostrum vs collagen, which is better?
Read on to learn more about these dietary supplements and how they may uniquely support your wellness goals!
What is Colostrum?
You may be familiar with colostrum, especially if you have some experience with breastfeeding.
Colostrum is the nutrient-packed milk produced by mammals, including humans, in the early stages of lactation.
It is often referred to as “liquid gold”. Colostrum is produced only in the first few days after birth and offers the newborn concentrated nutrients, including immune-boosting antibodies.
In addition, it supports the development of the newborn’s digestive system.
Colostrum’s nutrients also may offer benefits to adults via a dietary supplement.
Bovine Colostrum Supplements
Bovine colostrum (BC) comes from the initial milky secretions obtained from a cow after giving birth.
Manufacturers say there is extra colostrum in the mother’s first milk, leaving plenty for the baby calf.
BC is pasteurized to improve its safety and quality. It is then dried into pills or powders for use in dietary supplements.
Bovine colostrum is similar to human colostrum in that it is nutrient dense. It is rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammation agents, and growth-promoting factors.
Benefits of Colostrum Supplements
- Immune system support: Colostrum contains high levels of immunoglobulins, which help strengthen the immune system. These antibodies fight bacteria and viruses.
- Improved gut health: The immunoglobulins discussed above promote a healthy gut. Colostrum improves the beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. This can contribute to improved digestion and absorption of nutrients.
- Wound healing: Growth factors found in colostrum, such as transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), epidermal growth factor (EGF), and fibroblast growth factor (FGF), can promote tissue repair and regeneration.
Research is promising in the above benefits. However, well-designed, placebo-controlled, and randomized clinical trials are needed to determine the long-term safety, effectiveness, and optimal doses of BC supplements.
Colostrum for Skin
There isn’t sufficient evidence to say that colostrum supplements improve skin health.
Bovine colostrum has been gaining popularity as a skincare ingredient.
There is some preliminary research to support topical treatment of the liposomal bovine colostrum for skin.
Colostrum for Hair
Colostrum has been studied for hair health. However, there is limited scientific evidence at this time.
Supporters of colostrum say it may help to reduce wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, and even treat acne.
While there is no scientific evidence to support these claims, many people swear by the benefits of using bovine colostrum for their skin.
Downsides of Colostrum Supplements
Potential downsides of colostrum include:
- May contain pesticides, synthetic hormones, and antibiotics
- Ethical concerns related to animal welfare
- Potential food safety issues
- Colostrum is expensive
Avoid the above by purchasing bovine colostrum supplements from a reputable source (more on this below).
Possible Side Effects
Bovine colostrum appears to be safe for most individuals. Potential side effects include nausea and flatulence.
Who should avoid bovine colostrum?
You should avoid bovine colostrum if you are allergic to cow’s milk.
In addition, pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should not consume colostrum supplements.
How to Choose the Best Colostrum Supplement
Consider the following when purchasing colostrum:
- Colostrum should be obtained from the first milking, after the baby calf.
- Cows should be grass-fed and pasture-raised.
- Look for independent third-party testing seals on the label (NSF, USP).
- Ensure your supplement has a good manufacturing practices (cGMP facilities) seal.
Below are colostrum supplements that meet the requirements above:
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body.
It is one of the main building blocks for our bones, skin, hair, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
When it comes to your skin, collagen provides its structure and elasticity.
Collagen supplements come in 2 main varieties, bovine and marine.
Supplements containing bovine collagen come from the connective tissue of cows, particularly from the hides and bones of the animal.
Marine collagen comes from fish skin and scales.
You can learn more about these 2 types of supplements in this Age-Defying Dietitian blog post “Marine Collagen vs Bovine Collagen – Which One is Right for You?”.
Benefits of Collagen Supplements
Below are some of the benefits of supplemental collagen:
- Glowing Skin: Chances are you associate collagen with healthy skin. Collagen improves skin elasticity and firmness. It may also reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
- Joint Health: Collagen provides a cushion for our joints. We make less collagen as we age which increases joint pain, stiffness, and movement. A collagen supplement may decrease these symptoms of aging.
- Strong Bones: Collagen provides strength and structure to our bones. Supplemental collagen may increase bone density and decrease the risk of fractures.
- Gut Health: Collagen may strengthen the lining of the gut. This protects the gut from inflammation. In addition, collagen stimulates the growth of good bacteria in our gut, promoting immunity and healthy digestion.
- Muscle Mass & Strength: Collagen provides structural support to our muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Therefore, it can be helpful in injury prevention and recovery. In addition, collagen provides specific amino acids that may promote muscle growth and reduce inflammation.
Recommended Collagen Supplements
Colostrum vs Collagen Supplements
Colostrum and collagen are two different nutritional supplements with unique characteristics and benefits. Which one you take depends on your specific health goals and needs.
Choose collagen for improving your skin or joint health.
Colostrum is the better choice for immune support and gut health.
Can you take colostrum & collagen together?
You can take these 2 supplements together. There are no known interactions between colostrum and collagen.
Talk to your healthcare provider before adding these supplements to your wellness routine. Your provider can help you determine what supplements are best for you.
Takeaways: Colostrum vs Collagen
In conclusion, you should consider your individual health goals when evaluating collagen vs colostrum. Both have unique benefits.
Collagen is best for the skin and joints. Colostrum is the better option for immunity and digestive health.
If you are considering taking collagen or colostrum supplements, it is important to talk to your doctor first.
More studies are needed to understand the full benefits and risks of both collagen and colostrum.
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Kathryn is a Registered Dietitian and a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach. She is also Certified through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Weight Management. She has 20+ years of nutrition experience working in a variety of healthcare settings. Her passion is to provide evidence-based nutrition information that supports vitality and longevity!