top of page


Colostrum is also rich in oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are undigestible starches that pass through the intestinal tract and serve as a source of energy for healthy bacteria. Beneficial gut bacteria ferment these starches and flourish. More than 60 different oligosaccharides have been identified in bovine colostrum, and they have been shown to be effective in supporting digestive health in humans

Oligosaccharides are chains of carbohydrates made up of three to 10 simple sugars, which are also known as monosaccharides that can act as prebiotics in the body, feeding your gut bacteria. The large majority of oligosaccharides cannot be broken down by the human digestive tract. Instead, they travel through your gut all the way to the colon, where they feed and support the growth of beneficial bacteria. Because of this, oligosaccharides are considered prebiotics and a source of prebiotic fiber.

Bovine colostrum is a rich source of complex and highly selective oligosaccharides and glycans. The concentration of oligosaccharides in colostrum is the majority of these structures are acidic oligosaccharides which are lower in mature bovine milk.

There has been significant interest in utilizing milk and colostrum as a source of BMOs for human nutrition and health to modulate the GI microbiome. In contrast to HMOs, BMOs are predominantly sialylated (i.e., acidic) oligosaccharides, with a low propensity for fucosylation and a lower structural diversity. Recent advancements in enzymatic glycosylation have provided opportunities for the structural enhancement of BMOs to alter their structure to resemble HMOs. Several complexities in milk processing have thus far limited the ability of BMOs to be separated from lactose found at high concentrations in milk, though solutions have begun to emerge which complicates their utility for human nutrition and health. Further, though pilot experiments with purified BMOs in adults have not yet demonstrated generalizable changes to GI microbial populations, future work in infants may be more promising as recent in vitro experiments with BMOs are more promising. 

bottom of page