(888) 39-MERCY
Wisconsin & Illinois

Health Library

Return to Index


Supplement Forms/Alternate Names:

  • Bovine colostrum


Colostrum is the milky substance that mothers produce from the breast during the first few days after birth. It is high in nutrients. Most colostrum that is available for purchase comes from cows. Colostrum has been used to improve infant health. It has also been used to improve athletic performance in adults. It can be taken as a pill or powder.


10 to 20 grams once daily—This dose is not advised for infants.

What Research Shows

May Be Effective

Unlikely to Be Effective

  • Necrotizing enterocolitis—unlikely to ease symptoms in infants F1

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to take colostrum in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.


Failure to Thrive
Panahi Y, Falahi G, et al. Bovine colostrum in the management of nonorganic failure to thrive: a randomized clinical trial. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010 May;50(5):551-554.
Kaducu FO, Okia SA, et al. Effect of bovine colostrum-based food supplement in the treatment of HIV-associated diarrhea in Northern Uganda: a randomized controlled trial. Indian J Gastroenterol. 2011;30(6):270-276.
Immunoglobulin A Deficiency
Patıroğlu T, Kondolot M. The effect of bovine colostrum on viral upper respiratory tract infections in children with immunoglobulin A deficiency. Clin Respir J. 2013 Jan;7(1):21-26.
Low Birth Weight
Balachandran B, Dutta S, et al. Bovine Colostrum in Prevention of Necrotizing Enterocolitis and Sepsis in Very Low Birth Weight Neonates: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Pilot Trial. J Trop Pediatr. 2017 Feb;63(1):10-17.
Zhang Y, Ji F, et al. Oropharyngeal Colostrum Administration in Very Low Birth Weight Infants: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2017 Sep;18(9):869-875.
Preterm infants
Lee J, Kim HS, et al. Oropharyngeal colostrum administration in extremely premature infants: an RCT. Pediatrics. 2015 Feb;135(2):e357-66.
Romano-Keeler J, Azcarate-Peril MA, et al. Oral colostrum priming shortens hospitalization without changing the immunomicrobial milieu. J Perinatol. 2017 Jan;37(1):36-41.
Nasuf AWA, Ojha S, et al. Oropharyngeal colostrum in preventing mortality and morbidity in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;9:CD0011921.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis
Sadeghirad B, Morgan RL, et al. Human and Bovine Colostrum for Prevention of Necrotizing Enterocolitis: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2018 Aug;142(2). pii: e20180767.
Respiratory Tract Infections and Diarrhea
Saad K, Abo-Elela MG, et al. Effects of bovine colostrum on recurrent respiratory tract infections and diarrhea in children. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Sep;95(37):e4560.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
  • Review Date: 02/2020
  • Update Date: 06/17/2020