Bovine Colostrum and Its Potential for Human Health and Nutrition

Front Nutr. 2021 Jun 21:8:651721. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.651721. eCollection 2021.


Colostrum is the first milk produced post-partum by mammals and is compositionally distinct from mature milk. Bovine colostrum has a long history of consumption by humans, and there have been a number of studies investigating its potential for applications in human nutrition and health. Extensive characterization of the constituent fractions has identified a wealth of potentially bioactive molecules, their potential for shaping neonatal development, and the potential for their application beyond the neonatal period. Proteins, fats, glycans, minerals, and vitamins are abundant in colostrum, and advances in dairy processing technologies have enabled the advancement of bovine colostrum from relative limitations of a fresh and unprocessed food to a variety of potential applications. In these forms, clinical studies have examined bovine colostrum as having the substantial potential to improve human health. This review discusses the macro-and micronutrient composition of colostrum as well as describing well-characterized bioactives found in bovine colostrum and their potential for human health. Current gaps in knowledge are also identified and future directions are considered in order to elevate the potential for bovine colostrum as a component of a healthy diet for a variety of relevant human populations.

Keywords: bioactive proteins; bovine colostrum; human health; infants; oligosaccharides.

Publication types

  • Review