The use of colostrum as a bodybuilding supplement is currently an area of active research. Many studies aimed at addressing the overall benefits of colostrum for athletes have indicated promising links between supplemental colostrum and increased athletic performance, including improved digestion, increased absorption of nutrients, and heightened immune systems that are less compromised through increased physical activity.
More recent studies focused on the role of individual colostrum components in promoting overall athletic achievement suggest benefits particularly relevant to bodybuilding, including decreased body fat, increased energy, and increased muscle mass.
Colostrum is a very concentrated type of breast milk secreted only during the first few days of an infant's life, before true lactation begins. During this time, the digestive and immune systems of newborns are changing very rapidly, and colostrum plays a crucial role in their continued development.
The form of colostrum widely available for use as a bodybuilding supplement is bovine colostrum, which is nearly identical to human colostrum in many respects. The most important components addressed by manufacturers of bovine colostrum bodybuilding supplements are growth factors immunoglobins, lactoferrin, cytokines, and vitamins.
The results of several studies now suggest that IGF-1 and IGF-2, two important growth factors present in colostrum bodybuilding supplements, may help in increasing lean muscle tissue and stimulating overall muscle growth.
Although the mechanisms for these effects are not yet fully understood, it has been hypothesized that the unique combination of proteins and IGF-1 present in colostrum bodybuilding supplements serves to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. In addition, the IGF-1 may exhibit metabolic effects that increase overall muscular endurance through an increase in free fatty acid levels in the blood.
Bodybuilding supplements containing colostrum have also been linked to reduced blood levels of creatine kinase, an enzyme released by muscle cells when they are damaged. Since serum creatine kinase levels are often used as an indicator of muscular damage incurred through excessive exercise and bodybuilding, their reduction in these studies seems to indicate that colostrum bodybuilding supplements also serve to decrease the severity of muscle trauma usually associated with these activities.