Components of Colostrum
Colostrum, the first food we receive as infants through maternal milk, contains biologically active properties and molecules essential for life functions.
Two primary categories of colostral components include immune factors and growth promoters. However, colostrum has a multitude of bioactive molecules that are essential for specific functions.
Colostrum, a natural bioactive ingredient, can provide a perfect combination of vital components to assist our bodies in the biological processes of dealing with health-related issues.
Some of the major components of colostrum include:
Immunoglobulins (Ig): also known as antibodies are used by the immune system to identify, attack and neutralize foreign objects such as bacteria and viruses. Absorption of immunoglobulins is essential for the passive immunity of neonatal mammals after birth.
IgG: bovine colostrum has more IgG than all the other immunoglobulins found in colostrum. It provides a large portion of immunity against invading pathogens. IgG also helps to initiate the cascade of other immune functions.
IgA: strategically resides in areas like the gastrointestinal, respiratory and urogenital tracts to play a critical role in mucosal immunity by preventing specific pathogens from colonizing.
IgM: the first responder to pathogens entering the body. Attacks bacteria, rendering them inactive.
IgE: plays an important role in allergenic reactions and aids in the response to parasites in the digestive system.
IgD: functions closely with IgM to send a signal to B cells, initiating them into action. IgD participate with other immunoglobulins to bolster the body’s immune system. Also help in creating specificity to antigens.
Cytokines: colostrum contains many of these biological response modifiers. These can be protein, peptide or glycoprotein signaling molecules that are used in cellular communications. Cytokines have a specific role as regulators of epithelial cell growth and development, including intestinal inflammation and epithelial restoration following mucosal damage. They are also important mediators in the regulation of immune and inflammatory responses.
Lactoferrin: iron-binding glycoprotein. One of the antimicrobial components of the immune system that fights bacteria and fungi in the body. It binds metal ions which are necessary bacterial metabolites, making them unavailable for bacterial development. This anti-inflammatory glycoprotein binds free iron ions in biological fluids, transporting the iron to blood cells. Lactoferrin has been shown to inhibit the growth of specific microbes, like E. coli and Salmonella. Lactoferrin has additionally demonstrated antiviral effects.
Lysozyme: antibacterial enzymes that help to support the immune system by disrupting the cell walls of harmful bacteria. A special attribute of lysozyme is its interaction with other colostral components. It has been shown to work in a synergistic effect with lactoperoxidase, IgA and lactoferrin. With lactoperoxidase, lysozyme partly activates it by forming a complex. With IgA, it works in synergy to combat E. coli. And in the presence of lactoferrin, the antimicrobial effects of lysozyme is also enhanced.
Lactalbumin: important nutrient and water-soluble protein found in milk which contains essential amino acids necessary for body growth and development.
Lactoperoxidase: a major antibacterial enzyme found in colostrum. Protects the lactating mammary gland from infections. Partly activated by forming a complex with lysozyme. Also shown to work with lactoferrin for some antibacterial effects. Some viruses, like polioviruses, are sensitive to lactoperoxidase’s toxic effects to viruses.
Proline Rich Polypeptides (PRPs): small chains of amino acids that have a powerful effect in initiating and balancing immune responses. Functions include modulating the immune system, acting as molecular signaling devices, promoting growth and the differentiation of B-cells, stimulating Natural Kill cell (NK cell) activity and promoting the proliferation of leukocytes (white blood cells).
Growth Factors: help stimulate cell growth, cellular differentiation and cell maturation. Growth factors act as signaling molecules from one cell to another as well as regulating a variety of cellular processes.
Epidermal Growth Factors (EGF): plays an important role in the regulation of cell growth, proliferation and differentiation. The EGF family of growth factors can help modulate development of the epidermis, mammary gland, and gut.
Fibroblast Growth Factors (FGFs): involved in the growth of new blood vessels and wound healing.
Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1): the most abundant growth factors of bovine colostrum. These proteins are single chain polypeptides with amino acids. They play an important role in childhood growth and have an anabolic effect in adults.
Platelet-derived Growth Factor (PDGF): one of numerous proteins that regulate cell growth and division, playing a significant role in blood vessel formation.
Transforming Growth Factors (TGF-alpha & TGF-beta): TGF-alpha induces epithelial tissue development. TGF-beta plays a crucial role in tissue regeneration, cell differentiation, formation of bone cartilage, and regulation of the immune system.
Essential Nutrients: colostrum provides energy and nutrients. It is rich in energy-giving ingredients like carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. Carbohydrates are naturally available in colostrum, along with vitamins and minerals like calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Vitamins: included are vitamins A, B2, B9, B12, and D. Vitamins are essential organic nutrients that, like minerals, work as catalysts or co-factors in biological functions. They are important for such processes as retinol development, transportation of important matter across cellular walls, and processing other nutrients.
Essential Minerals & Ions: include calcium, chloride, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. Minerals act as catalysts in body functions such as metabolism and ATP formation. Minerals are also important building blocks of bone and teeth.
Carbohydrates: from simple sugars to complex oligosaccharides, carbohydrates are an important energy source and used in cellular recognition.
Amino Acids: consist of a large number of compounds that are the building blocks of proteins through the linking of peptide bonds. Amino acids are important for nutrition and muscle development.
Proteins: colostral protein provides essential nutritional components for muscle and tissue development. Help to provide energy.
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