How to Increase IGF-1 Levels

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IGF-1 can build muscle and slow down aging.
IGF-1 can build muscle and slow down aging. (Image: muscle fitness image by Leticia Wilson from Fotolia.com)

IGF-1 stands for insulin-like growth factor I and is an important endogenous molecule in the human body. IGF-1 is synthesized primarily in the liver with the use of growth hormone and insulin. Athletes pay particular attention to IGF-1 since this molecule has been shown to impart significant gains in muscular mass and strength. In addition, IGF-1 has the ability to repair damaged cells and is therefore considered an anti-aging molecule, although the long-term effects of increased IGF-1 levels in humans remain somewhat unclear as of August 2010.

Supplement with 100 mg of DHEA every day. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology in October 1998, 100 mg of DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, increased IGF-1 levels by 16 percent in men and 31 percent in women. Although DHEA is an over-the-counter supplement, it is always wise to discuss the addition of any supplement with your health care professional.

Consume more whey protein and dairy. In addition to whey protein and milk products, creatine is also known to increase IGF-1 levels. Creatine is widely used by athletes, and the recommended dose is 5 g per day. Like DHEA, creatine is available without a prescription, but you should thoroughly study label directions and consult your physician.

Exercise briefly but intensely. Another study published in the same publication, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, in October 1996, shows that short-duration, high-intensity exercise increases IGF-1 levels more than exercise that lasts longer but carried out at a lower level of intensity. Short sprints, intense weight training sessions and other forms of exercise that are challenging but brief will increase IGF-1 levels. Such exercise must be suited to your age and physical condition, of course, and you should remember that "intense" and "challenging" are relative terms; what may be easy for a 21-year-old male may be very challenging for an elderly individual with reduced mobility and strength.

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