IGF1 hormone, review of supplement inquiries
March 6 2017 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Insulin-like growth factors I and II ( IGF-I and IGF-II ) are potent growth factors involved in development. IGF-I stimulates proliferation of erythropoietic progenitors and parenteral IGF-I administration stimulates in vivo erythropoiesis in animals. IGF-I and IGF-II are both present in mammalian milks and when milk-borne, are resistant to neonatal gastrointestinal degradation.

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor receptors in the brain: Physiological and pathological aspects. The involvement of insulin, the insulin-like growth factors (IGF1, IGF2) and their receptors in central nervous system development and function has been the focus of scientific interest for more than 30 years. The insulin-like peptides, both locally-produced proteins as well as those transported from the circulation into the brain via the blood-brain barrier, are involved in a myriad of biological activities. These actions include, among others, neuronal survival, neurogenes, angiogenesis, excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission, regulation of food intake, and cognition. In recent years, a linkage between brain insulin/IGF1 and certain neuropathologies has been identified. Epidemiological studies have demonstrated a correlation between diabetes (mainly type 2) and Alzheimer׳s disease.

Longevity, anti-aging? What is its role in aging?
Hormones (Athens). 2008.
The GH-IGF1 axis and longevity. The paradigm of IGF1 deficiency. Laron Z. Endocrinology and Diabetes Research Unit, Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel, Petah Tikva, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel.
Primary or secondary IGF1 deficiency has been implicated in shortening of lifespan. It has been shown that inactivation of the IGF1 gene or of the GH receptor in both invertebrates (C-elegans, flies-Drosphila) and rodents (mice and rats), leading to IGF1 deficiency, prolong life, particularly in females. In man, evaluation of the 2 largest cohorts of patients with Laron syndrome (inactive GH receptor resulting in IGF1 deficiency) in Israel and Ecuador revealed that despite their dwarfism and marked obesity, patients are alive at the ages of 75-78 years, with some having reached even more advanced ages. It is assumed that a major contributing factor is their protection from cancer, a major cause of death in the general population.

How to lower
Dr., I have a client with acromegaly. He had a small adenoma removed and is having problems keeping his IGF-1 down. Do you have any suggestions at all for this condition or how to keep this particular hormone level down?
   A. This is not a topic I have studied thoroughly, but I have read in animal studies that reducing caloric intake lowers levels.

I am not aware of a pure IGF1 supplement being available over the counter. There are certain companies that sell products with this name, but each of them probably has different nutrients and ingredients that can cause different benefits or side effects depending on what they have included in the product. The effects of prescription IGF-1 hormone would be very different than the effects from various "IGF-1" supplements over the counter since it is difficult to know how much of the hormone may be present in these products. Some companies claim that their products contain a specific amount, in micrograms or nanograms, of IGF-1 hormone, but it is not likely that they have done actual measurements.
   One needs to consider the fact that the other ingredients within these capsules would have their own benefits and side effects, overriding the effects of the IGF (if present), thus making the whole issue quite complicated.

   Here is one product that claims the following: Pure IGF contains a concentrated source of the growth factor matrix found in New Zealand Deer Velvet Antler. This matrix of growth factors contains as many as 13 different growth factors as well as the many co-factors necessary to assist each growth factor with their specific function. Each of the biological ingredients that make up the natural matrix of Pure IGF must be properly balanced and supplied to our body in the ratio that nature intended. The careful extraction of the proteins found in New Zealand Deer Velvet Antler results in a naturally balanced matrix of growth factors and co-factors as only nature and Pure IGF can provide. Energy levels and a general sense well-being are typically the first benefits noticed. Physiological effects vary and may occur over several months. Pure IGF May Help:

Immune system
Bone density
Joint & connective tissue
Hair, skin and nails
Endurance and energy
Muscle growth
Sexual function
Mental clarity
Stress reduction
Weight loss

Additional " IGF" supplements promoted over the counter:

IGF1-RX contains a unique proprietary blend of clinical strength natural ingredients for providing the essential nutrients needed for peak anabolic performance.

IGF Extreme utilizes the same natural extract of velvet antler imported from New Zealand as Pure IGF. IGF Extreme contains 120% more growth factors than regular Pure IGF. IGF Extreme was designed for athletes and very active people that have higher needs for growth factors. IGF Extreme can help balance energy levels during exercise and promotes overall recovery after workouts.

Life-Flo IGF-1 Plus, 1 oz., Life-Flo Physician Developed All Natural IGF-1 Plus Superior IGF-1 Sublingual Spray IGF-1 Plus contains over 3000 nanograms of IGF-1 per oz. This superior IGF-1 Plus formula also contains: IGF-2 and Epidermal Growth Hormone, Transforming Growth Factor Beta, and Neurotropin.

Is  IGF1 supplement an alternative to the usual HGH secretagogues (arginine, ornithine, OKG) for older people? If yes, which one -or both- would you consider more effective for increasing IGF1: deer velvet antler or colostrum? And - as price levels are very important for me - supposing you don't consider colostrum so effective, but as it is not so expensive as deer velvet antler, would it still be minimally acceptable as an IGF1 source? Would small portions of colostrum and deer velvet antler taken at the same time act synergistically?
   These are all interesting questions with little research to know which is healthiest option to use in the long run. Colostrum appears to be the safest one to take on a long term basis. As to IGF1, sometimes people focus too much on one hormone or neurotransmitter and don't realize the body is extremely complicated and it is medically naive to just look at one hormone. There is no evidence that taking IGF1 improves health in the long run. Plus, there is no real, pure IGF1 hormone available over the counter even if the product names include this term. Just as there is no real human growth hormone over the counter since HGH is only available by prescription.

Wondering if Dr. Sahelian has any thoughts on the use of IGF pills -- any dangers, precautions? Also whether the supplement could keep one awake at night or cause broken sleep?
   I am not aware of any IGF-1 supplements over the counter that contain a high concentration of this hormone. Many products are sold with the name of this hormone making it seem that IGF-1 is the predominant composition of the product.