How to choose colostrum?

With the growth in popularity, many colostrum products have emerged on the market. We find there is a great deal of conflicting information or should we say misinformation, about colostrum supplements. That's why, in the course of our research, we have gone to great lengths to define which elements are the most important when selecting the best colostrum supplement for your own use. With that in mind, use the following guidelines:

What constitutes quality processing?
Bottom line: Choose a product that has been processed carefully, but not “OVER-PROCESSED.”

We say repeatedly that nature created a perfect food in colostrum. Of course it isn’t practical to get colostrum fresh from the cow, so how do we find colostrum that remains as close as possible to it’s “perfect” state? Look for colostrum that has been minimally processed at the lowest temperature possible. High temperatures can destroy some of colostrum’s vital components and denature the product. Colostrum that has been flash pasteurized and freeze-dried or spray-dried using low temperatures is the best choice. This is the simplest, most effective way of preserving all of colostrum’s vital components without over-processing it.

A note on freeze-drying: In general, colostrum is usually frozen for storage. Dairies have used frozen colostrum to supplement newborn calves for years. Freezing colostrum isn't actually the problem- thawing is. Colostrum must be thawed at very low temperatures to avoid any bacterial growth and maintain all of the biological components that benefit health. Therefore, companies that freeze colostrum would either have to spend an unreasonable amount of money in monitoring and regulating the thawing process, or find a better way to preserve colostrum’s vital components. This just isn’t probable for a company that mass produces colostrum from a milk production plant. A process like this could only be done by a company devoted to natural products that specializes in colostrum manufacturing. To produce the highest quality product requires a state of the art process that takes the colostrum straight from freezing to freeze-drying; so the product is never subjected to the thawing process and therefore retains all of its valuable benefits. Freeze-drying is an effective process used for many components supplied to the medical industry. This technique allows the colostrum to be processed with minimal heat, keeping it as close to the way nature intended it as possible.

New Zealand or U.S?
Bottom Line: New Zealand purity wins by a hoof.

Bovine Colostrum is effective for humans- whether it comes from New Zealand or the United States. What makes high-quality colostrum is high-quality cattle and high-quality processing. We favor New Zealand colostrum because of its dairies stringent standards of quality. Also, New Zealand colostrum comes from cows mostly pasture-fed or even 100% pasture fed, which may create a broader spectrum of immune factors in the colostrum. Colostrum from certified New Zealand Dairies an even better choice.

What's all the fuss about Immunoglobulins?
Bottom line: Important to calves, but much over-emphasized for humans.

While immunoglobulin (IG) level has been the most common measurement used to determine colostrum quality for calves, it is often over-emphasized as the measurement of quality for humans. Nature created a perfect food in colostrum and all colostrum contains the same basic components including IG, lactoferrin and growth factors. For calves, IG may be the most important factor as it is their sole source of immune protection at birth. For humans who choose colostrum as a supplement however, superiority in collection and processing should be the benchmarks of quality. The true quality of colostrum for human use can be determined by choosing a product that has been:
  • Pooled from 100% pasture-fed cows.
  • Low heat processed.
  • Flash pasteurized.
  • Certified free from hormones, pesticides and antibiotics.
  • If possible, collected from certified organic dairies.

First, milking, second milking, or what milking?
Bottom line: The calves' needs MUST be met first!

The first colostrum that comes from the cow must be given to the calf- it is essential to the health and vitality of the newborn and the preservation of the entire herd. Ideally, the calf will be given 3 quarts of first milking colostrum within the first 6 hours and then 2 quarts within the next 12 hours. Companies that claim "6-hour" or "First milking" colostrum products are simply not telling the truth. While a cow produces a substantial amount of colostrum, the initial colostrum or "first milking" contains a significant amount of fat and proteins that must be received by the calf right away for proper absorption. These factors are most beneficial to the newborn calf, but not necessarily as important to humans. Colostrum collected after the first 6 hours still contains all of the beneficial factors that we value. After about 48 hours, the colostrum becomes transitional milk and finally full milk at about 72 hours.

Good fat, bad fat, or no fat?
Bottom line: Mother Nature has it right.

Lipids (fats) help colostrum disperse and dissolve, and are therefore an important component in colostrum. The problem is that fats also become rancid quickly. So colostrum with its full fat content intact will spoil quicker.
Defatted colostrum has the advantage of having a much longer shelf life. However, there's nothing to indicate that defatted colostrum is missing any vital components as some manufacturers of American colostrum have suggested. Check with the manufacturer to find out what you are getting and how long it sits on the shelf. The ideal colostrum is one that is processed with the fat left intact, and delivered quickly to you. Colostrum from certified New Zealand Dairies generally has the fat left intact.

Pasture-fed or "Lot-fed"?
Bottom Line: Pasture fed.

It stands to reason that pasture-fed cattle are more natural cattle. At the same time, practicality dictates that cattle are not always pasture-fed. We do know that New Zealand cattle can be pasture-fed nearly year-round because the weather is so temperate. Some New Zealand dairy cattle are actually 100% pasture-fed. Pasture feeding exposes cows to the live enzymes and nutrients found in the soil. When cows are pasture fed, they produce more antibodies to disease-causing pathogens in their colostrum, which can help support our immune system when taken as a supplement. Cows that are lot-fed may be exposed to something called offal (ironically pronounced "awful"). Offal is the one of the "lot feed" products that's fed to livestock along with corn and other grains. Offal is made from animal parts left over after slaughter, including the bones and spines. Now that's awful. We favor pasture-feeding.

Encapsulation, gelatin or vegetable?
Bottom-line: Vegetable capsules are superior

Unlike standard gelatin capsules, vegetable capsules have a very low moisture content. This can provide better protection and will not compromise the integrity of the delicate, bio-active, components found in colostrum. Although vegetable caps are about twice the cost of gelatin caps, the additional cost will be well worth the investment in terms of the freshness and purity, not to mention the fact that you won't be ingesting bovine and pig hoofs as part of your health regime, which is what gelatin capsules are from.

Tested for safety?
Bottom Line: Accept no foreign agents or pathogens.

Colostrum should be tested by a certified laboratory to be free of pesticides, heavy metals, antibiotics, and disease-causing pathogens. Use of antibiotics and hormones like rBST with cattle is illegal in New Zealand.
Please Note: New Zealand is the only country with a major dairy industry that has never had a recorded case of scrapie or mad cow disease in their cattle herds or other livestock.

How to select the most suitable colostrum product from a various types and categories:

There are 3 main forms of colostrum products: pure powders, compound powders and tablets and capsules. Consumers can identify the most suited type according to their personal needs. Under the same colostrum type however, consumers need to be aware of the IgG content. The critical information and thus the value of every can/bottle/box of product is the total IgG content. Another point to note is that whether pure colostrum or compound colostrum, there is different packaging: full canning or partial canning [contains different numbers of small sachets at 1g, 2g, 2.5g, 5g, 10g, and 25g]. Partial canning have an additional packing step compared with full canning, this cause a higher packing cost thus, a higher overall product cost. Therefore consumers can chose the packaging type depending on individual preference.


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