Colostrum supplements may reduce muscle damage and inflammation post-exercise: RCT

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/apelletr
© iStock/apelletr

Related tags World anti-doping agency C-reactive protein

A daily supplement containing bovine colostrum may reduce markers of muscle damage and blunt inflammation after exercise, says a new study with soccer players.

A dose of 3.2 grams per day of the commercially available Colostrum Compact (LR Health and Beauty Systems, Germany)​ for six weeks resulted in faster recovery from the increases in  creatine kinase and C-reactive protein (CRP) seen after the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test (LIST), compared to whey protein. LIST is a test designed to simulate the activity pattern characteristic of the game of soccer.

The colostrum supplements maintained squat jump performance compared to whey, according to findings published in the European Journal of Nutrition​.

“Our study is the first soccer-specific research that tracks EIMD [exercise-induced muscle damage] kinetics and incorporates professional and semi-professional soccer players accustomed to regular soccer eccentric training instead of amateurs and college students unaccustomed to eccentric exercise mode,”​ wrote researchers from Harokopio University (Athens, Greece) and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.


The researchers explained that bovine colostrum is the “only naturally produced multi-ingredient supplement”​, and contains multiple bioactives with antimicrobial and immunomodulatory properties, including lactoferrin, lactoperoxidases, lysozyme, insulin-like growth factors-1/2 (IGF-1/2), peptides and oligosaccharides.

The presence of the IGF-1 may cause some problems from a drug testing perspective. Colostrum is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, but its consumption is not recommended for elite athletes. According to WADA’s website:“Colostrum is not prohibited per se, however it contains certain quantities of IGF-1 and other growth factors which are prohibited and can influence the outcome of anti-doping tests. Therefore WADA does not recommend the ingestion of this product.”

However, the researchers argued that the low-dose used in the current study was unlikely to elicit a positive doping test result.

Study details

The researchers recruited 18 soccer players from the third and fourth division of the Greek National league and randomly assigned them to receive either 3.2 grams per day of whey protein or 3.2 grams per day of colostrum for six weeks. The players performed the LIST before and after the supplementation period.

Results of the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study indicated that LIST induced temporary increases in creatine kinase (a marker of muscle damage), CRP, and interleukin-6, while performance decreased. However, colostrum supplementation was found to decrease the recovery time from these changes.

Commenting on the potential mechanism(s) of action, the researchers noted that previous data has indicated that bovine colostrum may increase resting levels of essential and branched-chain amino acids, which boosts muscle synthesis and reduces muscle damage. In addition, data from animal studies indicated that colostrum may increase the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), and reduce oxidative damage. A third potential mechanism is that colostrum may induce so-called heat-shock proteins and protect against muscle damage.

“In contrast to other studies, we decided to proceed with a low-dose and relatively long-term dosage scheme which can be applied in real field settings, i.e., during the in-season soccer period,” ​they wrote.

“Larger studies are needed to confirm the ability of bovine colostrum to improve recovery after a soccer game,” ​they concluded.

Source: European Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1401-7
“A low-dose, 6-week bovine colostrum supplementation maintains performance and attenuates inflammatory indices following a Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test in soccer players”
Authors: Y. Kotsis et al. 

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