Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is a unit of measure used to determine an individual’s estimated growth hormone secretion. It is a 70-amino acid polypeptide. IGF-1 is produced by many tissues, but the liver is the main source of circulating IGF-1.
IGF-1 is the primary intermediary of the anabolic and growth promoting effects of human growth hormone (hGH).
Low IGF-1 levels are observed in human growth hormone (hGH) deficiency or growth hormone resistance. For adults, this can be due to a number of reasons such as poor diet, poor health, pituitary tumors, or head trauma. Since good hGH levels are important in adults for tissue regeneration, it can be a major factor in one’s overall health and wellness.
Reference values for IGF-1 (hGH)
The Mayo Clinic provides updated reference ranges for IGF-1 (hGH) levels for male and female. These ranges are placed in categories by age from 1 year thru 80 years of age. Below is a table for an average male.
[title type=”special-h4-left” color=””]IGF-1 Ranges (ng/mL)[/title]
The first thing one notices is the large range between the lower end of the average range and the higher end of the average range. This is where the controversy lies. Most physicians not educated in anti-aging medicine won’t even consider treating an adult patient in the low end of the average range. What’s more, laws in the US prevent physicians from prescribing hGH “off-label” to raise IGF-1 levels.
hGH replacement therapy is one of the most contentious treatments surrounding bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) . Conventional medicine demonizes it; the media hypes it, and the US government threatens physicians who prescribe it. That is, except in the most severe cases of adult growth hormone deficiency (AGHD) or childhood growth problems.
This logic is hypocritical when one looks at other hormone treatments. For example, why is testosterone replacement therapy permitted for low-t? What about women after menopause? Isn’t it common practice to test for hormone levels and raise the levels so as to eliminate several negative side effects associated with hormone decline after menopause? What type of science discriminates based on type of hormone used? Perhaps it is political science that does.
So what are some of the reasons for declining hGH? Well, that is a difficult question to answer in a short blog, but there are many. In fact, there are probably an infinite number of complex physiological associations combining together causing our endocrine system to misfire on occasion. For some much more than others. With that said, we can probably use some intuitive thinking to single out some obvious influencers. Many of which are impacting other aspects of our life and other hormones as well. Let’s discuss a few key influencers.
Weight – Weight is a big influencer to IGF-1 levels. In fact, the European Journal of Endocrinology published a paper in 2010 called: Determinants of IGF-1 and Growth Hormone across the weight spectrum: from anorexia nervosa to obesity. Basically the paper notes that growth hormone is negatively influenced on both ends of the extremes. Chronic starvation will create growth hormone resistance, while obesity will result in less growth hormone secretion.
Generally speaking, we know approximately 35% of the US population is obese. That’s over one-third of the population. Since my last visit to a shopping mall in the US, I do not recall seeing any anorexic people, but I did see a lot of fat people. Suffice it to say the focus here should be on obesity and its impact to growth hormone levels.
So, how does being overweight or obese influence hGH levels? Put simply, obesity is associated with a decrease in growth hormone secretion. Elevated free fatty acids have also been demonstrated to be strong determinants of decreased growth hormone secretion. Hence, as one’s body mass index (BMI) increases, it is safe to say their growth hormone secretion will decrease.
The European study cited above (click here to download) shows that human growth hormone secretion was inversely associated with BMI. The more overweight you become, the less growth hormone you will be producing.
There are other interesting aspects of this study as it relates to testosterone levels in women and its influence over hGH secretion. We won’t get into it now, but for anyone interested in the study, please click here to download it in pdf format.
Sleep – Sleep is another hey influencer. hGH is most active at night while we sleep. Getting to bed at a good hour and sleeping approximately 7 hours is ideal. It should be noted that too much sleep is not good either. Recent studies suggest right around 7 hours is the magic number for adults.
Exercise – Exercise can be a big contributor to hGH secretion. It affects growth hormone release through neural input, direct stimulation of catecholamines, and by changes in lactic and nitric oxide within the cells. It should be noted that different types of exercise influence hGH secretion in different ways, so its always best to mix up your exercise routine.
Toxins – Environmental toxins have been shown to be endocrine disruptors. Most of the research thus far has been on other hormones and not hGH. However, it is safe to say these toxins most likely will have the same negative influence on hGH secretion. For more information, Google the “Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors” and read what you find. It will shock most people how frequently we come in contact with these endocrine disruptors in our everyday lives without even knowing it.
Alcohol – Alcohol has been shown to decrease the secretion of hGH by as much as 70%.
Back to the chart.
Now that we understand that there are a number of influencers to our hGH levels, why would anyone supplement with hGH injections?
The fact remains no matter how hard we try, it’s becoming increasing obvious we’re not living healthy, even though we think we are. 35% of us are obese, approximately 1 in 3 adult(s) have high blood pressure, over 9% of the US population is diabetic, and 1 in 4 of US deaths is due to heat disease. With these facts, it’s clear whatever we’ve been doing is not working.
Medical technology is keeping us alive longer, but we are not living healthier. hGH is a tool, albeit one of many, that can provide added value to one’s desire to fight these degenerative diseases. It won’t stop aging, but it will help with regeneration of cells, weight control, exercise endurance, sleep, and recovery.
The goal we pursue at the Anti Aging and Wellness Clinic is to raise a persons hGH levels to the upper physiological range. That’s somewhere in the upper range levels on the chart near the age of 30. Somewhere between the upper and median points on the chart is ideal. The upper physiological range is the area the body recognizes as a normal healthy range, not excessive.
Once these levels are achieved, the patient will most likely start to feel better, sleep better, and have more energy and endurance. They will also see there skin tighten and start seeing a youthful glow.
Below is a list we’ve compiled from various sources, which are commonly known as benefits from hGH replacement therapy.
- reduced body fat
- increased muscle mass
- higher energy levels
- enhanced sexual performance
- regrowth of vital organs
- restoration of youthful immune function
- stronger bones
- lower cholesterol and blood pressure
- faster wound healing
- smoother, firmer skin
- regrowth of hair
- sharper vision
- elevated mood
- improved cognition
People with age-related deficiency of HGH or human growth hormone become
- lose interest in sex
- have trouble sleeping, concentrating, and remembering things
- tire easily
- lose their zest for life
It is clear this is one of the most powerful hormones we rely on for health and wellness. The availability of hGH and hGH replacement therapy is one of the important discoveries of our generation.
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If you would like to embark on hGH replacement therapy, please email us for more information.