Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is one of those substances that have increasingly become center of attention in recent years. Professional bodybuilders seem to know a lot about it, so do those with great interest on reversing aging. One thing that the observant would have noticed whenever the peptide is mentioned is that there is also usually talk of growth hormone. What exactly is the relationship between the two? And in what ways does IGF-1 benefits the body? We discuss these and more in this article.
About insulin-like growth factor-1
Also known as somatomedin C, IGF-1 is a polypeptide that is naturally produced in the body. It shares similar molecular structure as insulin, which informed the inclusion of “insulin-like” in the name. The protein-based hormone hasn’t always been known by the current name. It was described, along with IGF-2, by researchers Salmon and Daughaday in 1957. But the term “sulphation factor” was used to describe the substances at the time. The name was changed to “somatomedin” in the early 1970s before being replaced with “insulin like growth factor 1 and 2” few years later.
IGF-1 belongs to a family of peptides that are related to insulin, such as relaxin. It is made up of 70 amino acids and has a molecular weight of 7,649 Da. The amino acid sequence form a single change featuring three intra-molecular disulfide bridges. This substance contributes to growth and development. It also boasts anabolic properties.
Numerous tissues in the body see to secretion of IGF-1. However, the most amounts are produced by the liver, from where it moves to other tissues. It functions as an endocrine hormone. IGF-1 can also act as a paracrine or autocrine substance. Cartilaginous cells are among the sources of the peptide. The effects produced by the substance depend on the point of secretion.
IGF-1 and growth hormone
So what links insulin-growth factor-1 to human growth hormone? It is simple. Growth hormone drives the secretion of IGF-1 by the liver. This explains why the latter’s levels are usually also low when those of HGH are low. As you probably know already, growth hormone is produced by the anterior pituitary gland in the head. It is secreted into the blood and travels to the liver to stimulate production of IGF-1.
This 70 amino acid chain is the main mediator of growth hormone. In other words, it is through it that GH delivers majority of its amazing benefits. IGF-1 finds its way to different parts of the body once secreted and binds to its specific receptor in tissue cells. It thus promotes the function of these cells and tissues. The protein is regarded a highly powerful natural AKT signaling pathway activator.
It is the fact that growth hormone does most of its work through IGF-1 that often makes it impossible to talk about one without mentioning the other. The substance produces effects on virtually all cells in the body, including cartilage, skeletal muscle, nerves, skin and kidney.
What benefits does IGF-1 offer?
The benefits you can expect from insulin-like growth factor 1 are practically the same ones that are associated to growth hormone. They include the ones discussed below.
Promotion of growth
This is the most obvious benefit of IGF-1 since the growth-inducing effect of growth hormone is delivered through it. Adequate amount is needed for children to reach normal adult height; otherwise, their growth is stunted.
Certain diseases that result in growth failure occur due to low levels of the substance. One of these is the disorder known as Laron Syndrome, a kind of dwarfism. These issues can be prevented by ensuring adequate amount of IGF-1 and good response.
Growth hormone is revered for its ability to help reverse the aging clock. And you will recall that IGF-1 is the main mediator of GH effects. Several studies have shown that low levels in older individuals are a reason for appearance of aging signs. The amount of the protein you have in your body may serve as an indication of how long you are likely to live and maybe how well.
The length of DNA telomeres is considered a good indicator of how long a person may live. The longer these structures are the better. But they are known to get shorter with successive years, thereby causing aging. Researchers have observed a correlation between telomere length and IGF-1 in healthy individuals. The substance may also help fight cognitive decline linked to aging. Lower levels increase the likelihood of dying earlier, according to research. All these mean you may be able to slow effects of aging by ensuring adequate amount in your body.
IGF-1 has anabolic effects. It is useful to people interested in growing bigger muscles. This is why many professional bodybuilders take it direct or indirectly via growth hormone. It is also thought to be beneficial for creating new muscle cells. Older people and those with muscle-wasting conditions may find it useful for dealing with muscle loss.
Bone density enhancement
An individual with low growth hormone and IGF-F levels is likely to suffer from brittle bones. A study revealed that older women with high amount of the 70 amino acid chain had greater bone density. You may also find IGF-1 useful if you are interested in promoting bone growth.
Brain health boost
This substance can also be useful for enhancing the health of your brain. In a variety of animal studies, researchers have observed its diverse mental benefits. It improves memory and learning. A study with 25 elderly men as subjects revealed that the protein boosts mental processing. Lower levels have been linked to anxiety, depression, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Sufficient amount of the hormone can help to ward off health issues that are associated to inflammation. Individuals with low levels are at a greater risk of suffering from inflammation, according to research. IGF-1 is thought useful for management of autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. It may help fight autoimmunity as a result of how it increases T regulatory cells.
It is further believed that IGF-1 may help safeguard your heart health. Lower amount in the body is connected to a variety of cardiovascular issues, including congestive heart failure, ischemic stroke and fatal ischemic heart disease. But availability of sufficient amount can help to control plaque accumulation in blood vessels. The hormone contains powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
IGF-1 offers a number of other benefits, including promotion of blood sugar balance and stomach health. It boosts your immunity, helps clear infections, and promotes healthy looking skin.
How do you increase IGF-1 levels?
Considering connection to growth hormone, it is clear that anything that will increase the amount of that polypeptide will also cause IGF-1 levels to rise. HGH injections offer a very effective means of boosting the levels of both hormones substantially and rapidly. Powerful HGH and IGF-1 supplements may also be beneficial.
You can get a boost through regular exercise via increased growth hormone production. Consumption of the right foods and usage of supplements may also prove helpful. DHEA, vitamin C, calcium, leucine, resveratrol and zinc are a few of the nutrients that you can consider.
Precautions To Take With IGF-1
Be careful with how you go about increasing IGF-1 levels. Very high amount may be more of a problem than a benefit. The growth-inducing effect of the substance can cause tumors to become bigger at those levels. This is thought capable of contributing to cancer development, especially breast cancer. It could also be a factor in lung and prostate cancers.
IGF-1 can be seen to serve as the vehicle through which growth hormone delivers most of its benefits. Insufficient amount can lead to growth and general health issues. Thankfully, there are ways to improve levels. But caution needs to be exercised when boosting amount. Just as low is bad, very high levels are not any better. Research suggests either raises risk of dying from all causes.