Testing the Milk of Life

Published 20 May 2003

Could the first milk of life make older peoples' lives better? Southern Cross University intends to find out by testing the benefits of colostrum on older people.

Colostrum is the milk produced by a mammal in the first few days after giving birth. In the search for natural performance-enhancing supplements for athletes, colostrum may produce fast muscle recovery in sport's elites but so far any benefits have not been tested on the general population.

Graduates from the School of Exercise Science and Sport Management, Lauren O'Leary and Roxanne Sample, are looking for volunteers who are retired and between the ages of 60 to 70 to take part in a colostrum trial. The colostrum they are using comes from cows and has a higher percentage of growth factors than ordinary milk.

"Colostrum contains growth hormones that have anabolic qualities which promote protein synthesis in muscles. So far, studies show that colostrum boosts muscle recovery after exercise, which makes us wonder what positive effects this could have on older bodies," said Lauren O'Leary.

Ordinarily colostrum tastes like a bit like vomit, but after a pilot study with different flavourings, Roxanne and Lauren found vanilla honeycomb flavouring made it palatable.

"The beauty of colostrum is that it is a natural substance, so we can expect no adverse effects in anyone except those with a lactose intolerance. This could be groundbreaking if it boosts the flexibility and comfort of older people. If it means they can walk further, be more active, and go about their everyday activities with greater ease, this could be really important," said Roxanne Sample.

"Volunteers will gain important information about their current health status, increased knowledge of their body's functional status, exercise performance, and the satisfaction of participating in what may possibly be a very significant breakthrough for improving the general health of older people," said the colostrum study supervisor, Dr Robert Weatherby.

Volunteers need to be within driving distance of Southern Cross University's Lismore Campus.

The colostrum will be taken over a period of 8 weeks and a number of functional capacity tests will be undertaken at the start and finish of the project.

If you are interested in volunteering or would like further information, please call Lauren O'Leary or Roxanne Sample on (02) 6620 3654 or Dr. Robert Weatherby (02) 6620 3671.