SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) -- A substance produced by certain cows is now being used as a boost for athletes.
Dr. Stephen Barnes is a dentist by day. But outside the office, he is an award-winning body builder with a secret weapon. Barnes drinks bovine colostrums, a liquid that he calls "super milk."
"This was part of my success, without a doubt," said the Sacramento dentist.
Bovine colostrums are the very first food that a mother cow will feed her newborn calves.
Barnes told CBS 5 HealthWatch that drinking colostrums boosts his immunity as well as his muscles. The stuff is packed with antibodies as well as growth factors.
Mark McAfee, who owns Organic Pastures in Fresno, said colostrums are extremely powerful food and not a drug. He said the newborn calf needs the substance to jump start its immune system but that the mother cow produces two to three times more than that newborn will ever need. McAfee sells the excess to retail stores as a dietary supplement.
"We sell it by the pint and we see thousands of these pints every few weeks. Every week loads of this stuff is going out", said McAfee.
At $8 a pint, it's not cheap. The dry variety, made by other companies and sold as dietary supplements is also pricey.
A new British study said the costs may be worth it. Researchers found colostrums may actually benefit athletes, in this case long distance runners.
But not everyone swallows the claims. Dr. John Swartzberg at UC Berkeley said the studies are just too few and too small to prove much of anything.
"I'm very skeptical that it's going to have a profound or even a significant effect on one's exercise performance", said Swartzberg.
But Dr. Barnes said it works for him. "There are a lot of naysayers", said Barnes, "All I have to say is try it and see how it does for you."
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