How To Choose An Organic Bovine Colostrum Supplement

As new information continues to emerge regarding the health benefits of organic bovine colostrum, interest in this natural dietary supplement continues to grow. In response, many manufacturers now offer both non-organic and organic bovine colostrum supplements that are obtained from a variety of different colostrum sources and processed using a variety of different techniques.

Since there can be a correspondingly wide variation in the safety and overall effectiveness of these supplements, further consideration of both their colostrum sources and processing techniques has become increasingly important for choosing the most beneficial among them.

Choosing organic bovine colostrum is good in the same way that choosing organic foods is good. Although it has been difficult to determine with scientific certainty the overall effects of pesticides on human health, it is believed that organic foods are more nutritious largely because organically grown plants are more healthy.

In a similar way, the quality of bovine colostrum depends largely on the health of the cow that manufactures it. Cows that have been fed diets based on pesticide-laden plants, or have been subjected to drugs like growth hormones or antibiotics, are in general less healthy than their organically raised counterparts. This reduces the quality of the colostrum they produce, and increases their potential for harm through the transmission of the toxins these cows ingest.

Choosing organic bovine colostrum that is taken immediately after calves are born and harvested from very large source herds is even better. Colostrum taken within 24 hours after calving will have higher concentrations of beneficial components and greater immunotherapeutic potential, and larger source herds produce colostrum having a higher degree of uniformity from batch to batch.

Another issue that may be important to consider has to do with the diet of the source cows. Because pasture-fed cows are exposed by grazing to the complete spectrum of antigens in their natural habitat, they must develop a stronger natural immunity.

It is suggested that this may make organic bovine colostrum from pasture-fed sources more effective through the adoptive transfer of this enhanced immunity to humans. Since organic herds in the US are in general not pasture fed, many manufacturers now source their colostrum from New Zealand and Australia, where pasture feeding is common.

Choosing an organic bovine colostrum supplement that is processed fresh, and uses a low-heat drying technique will ensure that its beneficial components retain their maximum activity and health benefits. Many manufacturers require freezing of their source colostrum for transport, and some require the application of heat for the processing of their colostrum supplements.

Previously frozen products are limited in how they can be processed, and alternate processing techniques can yield colostrum supplements that are insoluble in water and therefore less biologically active in the body.

Finally, the application of heat in the manufacturing process can denature many of the protein components of the source colostrum, and colostrum supplements manufactured using excessive heat in general contain lower levels of important colostrum components and decreased biological activity.

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Supplement Use Associated With Positive Health Status And Health-related Behaviors

Researchers at Cambridge University evaluated data from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development, a longitudinal study of 5,362 individuals born in Great Britain in 1946. Information from the year 1999 was used for the current study, during which the participants were 53 years old. Subjects were interviewed concerning alcohol consumption, physical activity, and smoking, and five day food diaries completed by the participants provided information on dietary and supplement intake. Waist circumference, height, weight, and blood pressure were ascertained during physical examinations, and blood samples were measured for cholesterol, folate, iron and vitamin B12.

Forty-five percent of the women and 25 percent of the men in the study reported using supplements. Women were more likely to consume multinutrient supplements, vitamin E, GLA and vitamin B6, while a greater percentage of men than women reported using fish oil supplements. Men who reported participating in vigorous exercise were 50 percent more likely, and women 60 percent more likely to be supplement users than those who did who did not report this level of exercise. Female nonsmokers were 50 percent more likely to use supplements than those who smoked. Women who used supplements also had a lower body mass index, lower waist circumference, and greater plasma folate and vitamin B12 status than those who did not report using supplements. Individuals with healthier diets that included cereals, fruit, yogurt, oily fish and olive oil were more often supplement users than those who did not consume these foods.

The results of the study show that there is a clustering of healthy behaviors and positive cardiovascular risk factors among some individuals, particularly women. It also shows that those who could benefit the most from supplements may be the least likely to use them.

In the last 25 years, the incidence of coronary fatalities has decreased 33%. This is due largely to avoiding the traditional risk factors. Dr. Paul M. Ridker, M.D., M.P.H. (director of cardiovascular research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston), speculates that an auxiliary list of newer predictive factors may significantly increase the numbers benefiting from 21st century diagnostics and treatment (Ridker 1999a).

For the past 20 years, eclectic physicians have judged Syndrome X to be a powerful indicator of an eventual heart attack. For clarity, let it be understood that a syndrome represents clusters of symptoms. In Syndrome X, the symptoms are an inability to fully metabolize carbohydrates; hypertriglyceridemia; reduced HDL levels; smaller, denser LDL particles; increased blood pressure; visceral adiposity; disrupted coagulation factors; insulin resistance; hyperinsulinemia; and, often, increased levels of uric acid.

Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain flexible cell membranes (Igal et al. 1997). This is important, for healthy membranes contain large numbers of insulin receptors, increasing the surface areas available for insulin binding. This is extremely important in diabetes and Syndrome X.

A number of studies have shown the protective value of fish consumption in regard to averting coronary heart disease and the incidence of sudden cardiac death. For example, a recent study reported data collected from the Physicians’ Health Study involving more than 22,000 men followed over a 17-year time frame. Researchers tested the blood of 94 male study volunteers who experienced an episode of sudden cardiac death (but in whom there was no prior history of heart disease) against 184 matched control study participants who did not experience a cardiac event.

On an average, men who died suddenly had lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Among the men with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood, there was a 72% reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death when compared to the men with the lowest levels of these substances in their blood (Albert et al. 2002; Wascher 2002).