This study aimed to determine changes in oxidative stress levels, inflammation, and iron metabolism biomarkers after intense exercise in highly trained female athletes who consumed bovine colostrum supplements for six months (3.2 g; four capsules/day).

According to the research findings published thus far, an increase in metabolism, which determines the energy supply for physical effort, leads to an increase in reactive oxygen species, which can also disrupt the body’s hemopoietic system.

Reducing oxidative stress is especially essential for high-intensity or long-duration physical activity. However, the mechanism of this process is not fully understood. 

It is assumed that excessive production of ROS, among other factors, leads to the damage of erythrocyte membranes, thus increasing their sensitivity to disintegration. As a result of increased hemolysis of erythrocytes, there is a significant increase in redox-active iron in circulation.

It has been found that female athletes have more problems with iron homeostasis in their bodies than male peers who do not practice sports. In addition, post-exercise changes in iron metabolism parameters may increase the frequency of pathogenic infections in female athletes and decrease their capacity to perform intense exercise.

Studies indicate that bovine colostrum (BC) contains bioactive compounds, particularly enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants, that reduce the negative effects of oxidative stress. BC may also enhance this positive interactive effect because lactoferrin, casein, and whey proteins chelate iron.

What is Bovine Colostrum?

In the first few days following birth, cows produce a milky fluid called bovine colostrum from their udders before they release true milk. This fluid contains proteins called antibodies. As much as 100 times more antibodies are found in bovine colostrum than in regular cow’s milk. These antibodies are useful in fighting diseases caused by bacteria and viruses.

There is a special type of bovine colostrum containing high levels of antibodies created by researchers, called hyperimmune bovine colostrum, that is produced by cows who were vaccinated against specific disease-causing organisms.

Results of the Study

Twenty trained female athletes participated in this study and were divided into two groups: 11 were given bovine colostrum (6-month supplementation), and 9 were given placebo (6-month supplementation).

All participants completed an intense exercise test in the beginning and after six months of treatment. Blood samples were taken before, after, and 3 hours after exercise.

It was observed that the colostrum group showed a significant reduction in TBARS (Human Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substance) levels at all time points compared to the placebo group. In contrast, IL-6, SOD, transferrin (rest period), and lactoferrin (post-exercise) increased markedly.

According to the study’s results, six months of bovine colostrum supplementation reduces the harmful effects of free radicals, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Consequently, female athletes may benefit from reducing the inflammatory response caused by bovine colostrum supplementation by improving iron homeostasis.

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