What's the deal with Deer Antler Extract? Are people really using it in the NFL? It seems totally bogus and the PR around it is very interesting in the NFL. Reminds me of Creatine back in the 90's. But Creatine has actually been studied and shows it actually is beneficial for the weight trainer.
At first glance, Deer Antler Extract could be interesting, as increased IGF-1 levels translate into increased size and strength.
What is IGF-1? And how does it work?
IGF-1 is a hormone similar in molecular structure to insulin and is known as a growth factor. It is a highly anabolic hormone produced primarily by the liver as an endocrine hormone. It is responsible for much of the anabolic activity of GH, including nitrogen retention and protein synthesis. There are studies claiming that IGF-1 can aid in hyperplasia, an increase in number of muscle cells, and growth of new muscle fibers. IGF-1 can induce skeletal muscle hypertrophy by activating the phosphatidlylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt pathway. We know IGF-1 and GH are inter-related, and can have various effects on tissue. GH and IGF-1 levels elevate after exercise and during sleep, and are a primary factor in recovery. IGF-1 is both anabolic and highly anti-catabolic, but is limited by the protein (amino acid) supply within the body. In rat experiments the amount of IGF-1 mRNA in the liver was positively associated with dietary casein and negatively associated with a protein free diet.
Now the big question...can IGF-1 be taken orally?
There are conflicting opinions, many believe IGF-1 to be similar to growth hormone, which cannot be ingested orally, as it gets destroyed in the stomach. This is why you can only get GH in injectable form and cannot be taken in a pill.
But we knew differently..didn't we?
To increase milk production in cows, farmers will treat milk cows with rBGH. Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) results in a 10% increase in milk production. This increase in milk is a result of elevated hormone levels in the cows. The milk coming from cows treated with rBGH will have higher IGF-1 levels, which translate into increased IGF-1 levels for the milk drinker.
How else do you explain the muscle and strength gains associated with drinking whole milk.
A TTMJ reader linked an article on SuppVersity by Dr. Andro (I know what you are going to say, he is a world renowned doctor who is hiding his identity out of fear of FDA repercussions) that made everything quite clear.
Oral IGF-1 works better with a peptidase inhibitor like casein. And we already stated in the first paragraph, "In rat experiments the amount of IGF-1 mRNA in the liver was positively associated with dietary casein and negatively associated with a protein free diet."
Would it make sense to take Deer Antler Extract to boost IGF-1?
We know IGF-1 can be taken orally. But it is really unclear how much Deer Antler Extract is absorbed with each serving. Or what the potency of each Deer Antler supplement is.
We know that oral IGF-1 uptake works better in with a peptidase inhibitor and a high protein diet (amino acids). Now add a hefty caloric surplus...
Wouldn't it make more sense to consume something we already know to be high in IGF-1?
With 80% of its protein coming from casein? And enough calories from fat to create a caloric surplus?
Add to it a heavy dose of lactose for insulin production?
How about whole milk from cows treated with rBGH?
Yes. The milk already contains the peptidase inhibitor (casein) necessary for oral IGF-1 absorption and is high in protein to begin with.
Now for the negative effects.
IGF-1 increases the rate of aging.
Yes, signaling through the insulin/IGF-1 pathway is a significant contributor to aging in organisms ranging from round worms to fruit flies to humans. And we know IGF-1 triggers cellular growth. This can be positive for hypertrophy and skeletal muscle, but detrimental to longevity or tumor growth and proliferation.
*Thanks to Dr. Mat Lalonde for his assistance.