Growth factors are a group of bioactive compounds that may play a role in developing and supporting healthy tissues and organs.* They are produced by a variety of cells in the body and act as signaling molecules that may help regulate cellular growth and differentiation.*
Colostrum as a source of growth factors
One of the richest natural sources of growth factors is colostrum, the first milk produced by mammals after giving birth. Certain types of colostrum may contain a variety of growth factors, including insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), and epidermal growth factor (EGF).
IGF-1 is a growth factor that may play a role in promoting tissue growth and repair. It can be involved in a variety of processes, including the development of muscle and bone tissue, as well as the repair of damaged tissues.*
TGF-beta is a multifunctional growth factor that may play a role in a variety of biological processes, including supporting tissue repair and growth support, as well as the immune system. TGF-beta may have anti-inflammatory properties and is involved in the regulation of immune responses.*
EGF is a growth factor that may play a role in the growth and differentiation of cells in the skin and other epithelial tissues. It has been studied for its potential effects on wound healing and skin health.*
In addition to promoting tissue growth and repair, growth factors present in colostrum might have a variety of other beneficial effects on wellness. For example, IGF-1 may have specific healthy aging properties and might help support certain cognitive functions in some populations.* EGF might help support skin health and positively support the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.*
Supplementation with colostrum-derived growth factors might support various contexts, including muscles, athletic performance, and immune system function for some populations.*
While colostrum is one of the richest natural sources of growth factors, there are other foods and supplements that may contain these bioactive compounds.
Other sources of growth factors
One source of growth factors may be bone broth, which is made by simmering bones and connective tissue for an extended period. Bone broth contains a variety of nutrients, including collagen, which is a precursor to several growth factors, including TGF-beta and IGF-1.
Certain plant-based foods, such as spirulina and chlorella, may also contain growth factors. Spirulina, for example, has been shown to contain IGF-1, while chlorella has been shown to contain TGF-beta.
In addition to these dietary sources, supplements containing growth factors derived from grass-fed colostrum and other sources may be available. These supplements typically contain a combination of growth factors and other bioactive compounds, such as immunoglobulins and cytokines, that might help support immune system function, tissues, and overall health and wellness.*
However, it's important to note that not all growth factor supplements are created equal. Quality can vary depending on the source and manufacturing process, and it's important to choose a supplement from a high-quality source.
Foods that are sources of growth factors
There is also variety of foods that might be rich in growth factors or that may help stimulate the production of growth factors in the body. Some examples include:
- Colostrum: As explained, colostrum is the milk produced by mammals in the first few days after giving birth, and is usually rich in growth factors and immune-boosting compounds.
- Eggs: Eggs are a good source of choline.
- Fatty fish: Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Berries: Berries like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are high in antioxidants and other compounds.
- Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
- Leafy greens: Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens are rich in vitamins and minerals and might help to stimulate the production of growth factors in the body.*
- Bone broth: Bone broth is a rich source of collagen and other compounds that can help support joint and bone health.*
- Avocado: Avocado is a good source of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that can support overall health.*
- Beef liver: Beef liver is a rich source of iron and other nutrients.
- Beans and legumes: Beans and legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and black beans are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can support overall health and wellness.
As always, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. Get professional advice if you think you might need a colostrum and/or growth factors supplement or are already taking one to ensure you're not exceeding the amounts you may need.