Assertions that colostrum consumption is of human benefit are questionable because most ingredients undergo digestion in the adult stomach, including antibodies and all other proteins. But so do all whole foods that we consume.
Bovine colostrum and its components are safe for human consumption, except in the context of intolerance or allergy to lactose or other components. It shows promise in the treatment or prevention of a variety of disease states.
Roy Osborn et al. (2010) found colostrum to have positive effects in recovery and lean muscle production in elite athletes.
Bovine colostrum from pasture-fed cows contains immunoglobulins specific to many human pathogens, including Escherichia coli, Cryptosporidium parvum, Shigella flexneri, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and rotavirus (which causes diarrhea in infants). Before the development of antibiotics, colostrum was the main source of immunoglobulins used to fight infections. In fact, when Albert Sabin made his first oral vaccine against polio, the immunoglobulin he used came from bovine colostrum. When antibiotics began to appear, interest in colostrum waned, but, now that antibiotic-resistant strains of pathogens have developed, interest is once again returning to natural alternatives to antibiotics, namely, colostrum.
Some athletes have used colostrum in an attempt to improve their performance decrease recovery time, and prevent sickness during peak performance levels. Research fails to show a conclusive effect of colostrum on lean body mass.
Low IGF-1 levels may be associated with dementia in the very elderly, although causation has not been established. People with eating disorders also have low levels of IGF-1 due to malnutrition, as do obese individuals. Supplementation with colostrum, which is rich in IGF-1, can be a useful part of a weight reduction program. Although IGF-1 is not absorbed intact by the body, it does stimulate the production of IGF-1 when taken as a supplement.
Colostrum also has antioxidant components, such as lactoferrin and hemopexin, which binds free heme in the body.