- by Nils Osmar. June 28, 2023
- This post is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice.
- See full Medical Disclaimer
In recent weeks, we’ve seen colostrum being promoted as both a super-food and anti-aging food, as advertisers have “rediscovered it” and tried to link it to the anti-aging movement. The ads point out that it’s rich in compounds that promote various growth factors, and allude to some studies showing that it may support improved immunity, better collagen production, smoother skin, and telomere health.
The ads for colostrum tend to be steeped in hype, and if anything, they make it a little harder to write about it seriously. One ad that I saw on Facebook even tried to imply that colostrum is “neither animal based nor plant based”, calling it “a miracle third path to longevity” – which is obviously a little silly. It’s from a cow. That means it’s animal based. Of course that doesn’t disqualify it; both plant-based and animal-based foods and supplements can contain compounds that support health and longevity.
Setting the advertising aside, several studies suggest that colostrum does have some compounds in it with anti-aging benefits.
A 2021 study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, called “Bovine Colostrum, Telomeres, and Skin Aging” , for example, found that one particular form, liposomal colostrum, when applied topically to the skin, does protect against telomere length erosion. According to the study,
Under normal culture conditions and after both 4 weeks and 8 weeks of treatment, liposomal bovine colostrum appears to exert a protective effect on telomere length erosion. These results suggest that topical treatment of the liposomal bovine colostrum formulation would enhance skin health as the skin ages.
So in that sense, it is anti-aging – when used topically; the study didn’t address internal consumption.
According to another study, colostrum repairs UV damage to the skin (preventing the the type of skin aging driven by sun exposure). The study is entitled “The Potential of Bovine Colostrum-Derived Exosomes to Repair Aged and Damaged Skin Cells” Here’s a quote from it:
Taken together, our findings indicate that bovine colostrum-derived exosomes having excellent structural and functional stability offer great potential as natural therapeutic agents to repair UV-irradiated skin aging and damage.
So again, I would say it’s valid to call it an anti-aging compound.
A third study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and outlined in an article in LifeExtension magazine, found that the combination of peptides found in colostrum and low-dose lithium are protective against Alzheimer’s and slow brain aging.
Do these studies mean that use of colostrum will extend lifespan? It may, but there’s no strong evidence to suggest that this is true. But remember that aging is a specific collection of metabolic changes. Compounds that reverse any of those changes are considered anti-aging.
Broadly speaking, there are two paths to anti-aging. One is to support the growth pathway by activating mTOR. An example would be, increasing hGH levels, which has the result of rejuvenating the thymus gland and improving immune health, as was done in the TRIIM trial.
The other is to support the longevity pathway by triggering AMPK. To do this, we might try fasting or eating foods low in protein, low in calories, or low in leucine.
Collagen is created in the mammalian mothers to trigger growth pathways in baby animals. Bovine collagen is designed to help calves grow rapidly. So it’s definitely associated with mTOR and the growth pathways. This doesn’t make it bad, from my point of view, it just means that we should use it carefully, if we’re going to take it.
So it would be important to not take it, for example, when you’re fasting, but instead, if you want to try collagen, to take it along with a meal in which you’re deliberately activating those pathways, such as a high protein meal rich in leucine.
Not medical advice
This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplement(s), just reporting on what I’m doing. Supplements, like medications and other interventions, can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen, and consult with a medical professional about any issues which might have a medical component. See full Medical Disclaimer
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