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.

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.


A. Failure to Thrive

A1. 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.


B1. 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.

C. Immunoglobulin A Deficiency

C1. 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.

D. Low Birth Weight

D1. 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.

D2. 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.

E. Preterm infants

E1. Lee J, Kim HS, et al. Oropharyngeal colostrum administration in extremely premature infants: an RCT. Pediatrics. 2015 Feb;135(2):e357-66.

E2. 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.

E3. Nasuf AWA, Ojha S, et al. Oropharyngeal colostrum in preventing mortality and morbidity in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;9:CD0011921.

F. Necrotizing Enterocolitis

F1. 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.

G. Respiratory Tract Infections and Diarrhea

G1. 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.

Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 6/17/2020

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.