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Quick IGF1 Summary Points

  • IGF1 is a peptide hormone produced in the liver which has a wide range of anabolic effects.
  • IGF1 affects growth with many athletes and trainers attempting to use it to boost lean muscle mass and performance. 
  • However, using actual IGF1 also comes with some negative side effects. One of the major ones is that it also promotes the growth of fat mass as well as muscle mass.
  • IGF1 is NOT legal for over the counter sale in Australia
  • There are natural growth hormone and IGF1 support supplements that help to boost natural levels of IGF1.

What is IGF1?

Insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF1) is also sometimes referred to as somatomedin C and sulfation factor. It is a peptide hormone produced in the liver under the influence of growth hormone (Balhara et al, 2012) and is structurally similar to the insulin hormone. IGF1 is best known for its anabolic effects during the growth of a child, but its actions are active well into adulthood.

Why use IGF1

IGF1 and synthetic IGF1 analogues have therapeutic medical applications in the medical field. Because of the role of IGF1 in the regulation of growth, it has been investigated by the scientific community for treating growth disorders. However, its efficacy has been intensively debated (Balhara et al, 2012). Since IGF1 has anabolic properties, it is no surprise that some bodybuilders and athletes are interested in the IGF1 hormone as a means to increase lean mass and performance.

IGF1 Negatives & Side Effects

Unlike growth hormone, the benefits of IGF1 in the medical field are far less clear cut. The first downside of IGF1 is that the anabolic effects are not only for lean mass, but also for fat mass (Balhara et al, 2012). In cases where IGF1 therapy has been administered to those that need it, several side effects have been reported. One clinical trial reported that 60% of the test subjects experienced temporary adverse effects. The most frequently reported were headache, vomiting, and hypoglycaemia, that is, low blood sugar (Midyett et al, 2010). Trials involving long periods of IGF1 treatment have also reported individuals developing anti IGF1 antibodies, and hence developing a tolerance to the hormone (Chernausek et al, 2007). This may result in in requiring higher doses of this drug in the future, after extended use.

One major concern for IGF1 therapy is that high doses of IGF1 increases cell proliferation and survival. This may increase the risk of cancer among certain individuals, and experts warrant caution in cases where IGF1 therapy is being considered (Balhara et al, 2012).

IGF1 Legal Status

Being a hormone with potential for severe side effects, IGF1 is not available over the counter. It can only be prescribed by medical doctors and even then, it rarely is done so. Use of IGF1 without medical supervision is not legal in Australia and many other countries.

Legal IGF1 Alternatives

If you are looking for ways to increase your level of IGF1 production, there are some legal and safe alternatives. Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG), found in some intra workout supplements and pre workout supplements, is one ingredient within supplements that is known to & may increase IGF1 release. Humanofort has IGF1-like properties, however, its use has also been correlated to slightly reduced levels of "natural" IGF1 production. A better established alternative to IGF1 boosting supplements would actually be natural growth hormone supplements. Growth hormone is another peptide hormone, but it is better known for its ability to increase lean mass in the absence of fat mass. To learn more about this, please read our article on “Natural Growth Hormone Supplements Guide”.

Recommended IGF-1 Supplement

A favourite legal IGF-1 supplement to recently become popular has been a product called Elemental Nutrition IGF-1. This naturally supplement contains lactoferrin, which may assist in naturally increasing the body's IGF-1 levels.

Balhara et al (2012), Recombin ant Human IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor) Therapy: Where Do We Stand Today? Indian J Pediatr, 79: 244-249
Chernausek et al (2007), Long-term treatment with recombinant insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I in children with severe IGF-I deficiency due to growth hormone insensitivity. J Clin Endocrinol Metab., 92: 902-910.
Midyett et al (2010), Recombinant insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I treatment in short children with low IGF-I levels: first-year results from a randomized clinical trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab., 95: 611-619
Mihaescu et al (2005), Significant modification of lipid metabolism in aged persons following the treatment with a nutritive supplement containing embryonary peptides--preliminary results. Rom J Intern Med, 43: 133-13
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