IGF-1: Overview of Insulin-like growth factor 1

Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) occurs naturally in the body, but it has grown in popularity over the last couple decades as also a synthetic hormone that can be injected. It is part of the human growth hormone (HGH) family. Think of it as the less popular younger brother that never received the recognition compared to its more well known older brother. IGF-1 has widely been used in the bodybuilding world to build muscle mass, but there are numerous other benefits to IGF-1 that can help out a person’s health. You might just be surprised at the facts about IGF-1 that you did not know before.

What is IGF-1?

For those that are unfamiliar, IGF-1 is a hormone that is very comparable to insulin. It is not a bad thing to be compared to as insulin is considered by many to be the most powerful hormone in the body. IGF-1 also works closely with growth hormone or GH to repair and reproduce cells.

It is all basically part of a chain reaction of hormones that inspire growth in cells. These hormones are termed as growth hormones or GH. The pituitary gland makes the growth hormone which then goes on to induce the liver into producing IGF-1. Then the IGF-1 takes over as it jump-starts growth in cells throughout the entire body. If your IGF-1 production is low, this is a GH deficiency and can lead to several health deficiencies. If it is extremely high, it can cause other health problems. Attaining regular levels of IGF-1 is essential for growth and development.

The Role of IGF-1

The roles of IGF-1 are simple to state, but it is a complicated hormone and one of the strongest in the body. In the womb and throughout adolescence, IGF-1 produces growth and development. However, it continues to provide much more during your life. It improves bone density, builds muscle, and promotes healing throughout the entire body.

When low levels of IGF-1 are present early on in a child’s development, it can affect the kid’s growth. A short stature that is carried on into adulthood could result from a deficiency of IGF-1 in childhood.

What Is the IGF-1 Test?

With IGF-1 being an essential component to growth and development, it might be wise to get your levels or the levels of your young children tested. However, it is not a test that most doctors will recommend unless the patient deliberately asks about it. It is not an expensive test at all and will determine the amount of IGF-1 in the blood. This could supply you the knowledge of whether you need to lower or increase your IGF-1. Plus, there is a good chance your levels are just fine and you only need to keep it the same by doing what you are already doing.

The Possible Benefits of IGF-1

There are numerous possible benefits associated with IGF-1. It certainly can play an important role in someone’s overall health and fitness, but it may be much more valuable than previously thought.


In our DNA, the length of the telomeres corresponds directly with a person’s lifespan. IGF-1 can work hand-in-hand with creating telomere length in healthy people of all ages. In addition, it can prevent cognitive decline by accelerating new cell growth in the brain. Plus, with IGF-1’s ability to increase muscle mass and bone density, it slows down the frailty that accompanies aging.

Could Help Clear Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are nothing to take lightly. Examples of such infections are Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli. Testing completed with animals showed that IGF-1 helps clear the infections and even improves survival from those suffering from sepsis. Furthermore, animals that had cystic fibrosis were shown to improve when given IGF-1 as it helped clear the bacteria from the lungs.

The Benefits of IGF-1

There are many proven benefits to IGF-1 that makes supplementing with it a real noteworthy possibility.

Helps Your Gut

Again, with tests performed on animals, it has been proven that IGF-1 can help with gut issues. It helps with the protein content and stimulates mucosal DNA which then reduces bacterial translocation. Those animals that had small bowel transplantation improved considerably when given IGF-1. There also have been many infants that showed faster healing time in the gut when supplied with the hormone. If it can be of assistance to infants experiencing gut issues, it should be considered as a possibility for adults.

Helps the Brain

There have been certain studies that have shown promising results for using IGF-1 to help the brain. Again, in animal studies, it was shown to improve memory and learning. And with studies conducted on mice, it was reported that it helped as an anti-anxiety and anti-depressant. How do you know if it helps mouse depression? Leave it up to the researchers.

In a study conducted on men that were 25 years old or older, it was said that IGF-1 helped speed up the mental process. Plus, those people battling Alzheimer’s Disease, ALS, and Dementia have lower IGF-1 levels than normal, so supplementing IGF-1 into their protocol could produce positive benefits.

Helps Bone Density

It is well known that IGF-1 increases muscle mass, so it, in turn, would improve bone density since more support would be needed to carry those extra muscles. IGF-1 directly promotes bone growth and when high IGF-1 levels are detected in older women, they always have greater bone density. As we age, a careless fall could put us on the shelf for a long time because bones become more brittle, but with IGF-1 supplementation, it does not have to be that way.

Increases Antioxidants

Antioxidants help stop and prevent cell damage that comes from oxidants, molecules that can cause destruction in cells. IGF-1 increases antioxidants so your cells are protected.

Improves Immune System

IGF-1 increases the number of white blood cells. This is important because white blood cells, also known as leukocytes, are the cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious diseases and foreign invaders.

Protects Against Heart Disease


IGF-1 is known to positively affect blood vessels, stabilizing existing plaque, and reducing other plaque from accumulating. Those experiencing cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease or congestive heart failure have reduced IGF-1 levels. Again, increasing your levels could produce several positive benefits.

Decreased Inflammation and Autoimmunity

Inflammation is usually high when IGF-1 levels are low. Adding some additional IGF-1 to your routine could lower the amount of your inflammation. In addition, dermatitis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, HIV, and inflammatory bowel diseases can be improved by combining this hormone into your schedule.

Helps Build Muscle & Fights Muscle Wasting

IGF-1 has been known in the fitness industry for years. Not only can it increase quality lean muscle mass, it can prevent loss of muscle from diseases or lack of activity by boosting production of amino acid. It really is a miracle drug for these instances where maintaining and adding muscle is needed.

Supports Metabolic Health & Fights Type-2 Diabetes

Metabolic syndrome is commonly associated with low IGF-1 levels. Plus, infusions of IGF-1 has lowered blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity in Type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, obese people have been shown to often have low IGF-1 levels. They also have been known to eat more fatty foods and calories, too, though.

What Are Some IGF-1 Side Effects?

Everything has side effects. There is no perfect supplement, drug, or hormone that is side-effect free. The advantages must be weighed against possible disadvantages when deciding to try IGF-1.

Could Contribute to Cancer Development

High IGF-1 levels could lead to the body resisting anti-cancer drugs. High GH levels are also tied to breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer. But keep in mind that low IGF-1 levels have been connected to cancer, such as prostate cancer, as well.

Increased Acne

Anytime you add a hormone to your body, whether it is testosterone, estrogen, or IGF-1, there is a chance that it will increase acne. Hormones can wreak havoc on a person’s skin, so be prepared to possibly step up your skincare to combat it.

May Decrease Lifespan

High levels of IGF-1 could result in a faster aging process and an increase in possible cancers. Because of this, it could certainly decrease your lifespan if your IGF-1 amount is just too much.

How to Increase IGF-1

There are a couple of ways to increase your IGF-1. Before you start trying to add to it, though, it might be a good idea to get your level checked out first. Increasing the amount of protein you consume could raise your level. Dairy and calcium could also help increase your IGF-1 as well. There are also several vitamins and minerals that have been shown to increase IGF-1 levels, too.

There are supplements, such as Deer Antler Velvet, are available for purchase that claims they raise the amount of IGF-1 in the body. Likewise, there are also synthetic versions that can be injected.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of workout where the person does short, but intense, bouts of cardio. It is great for burning fat and muscle cells growth. The workout can be completed in much less time than a normal endurance cardio session. HIIT workouts not only activate telomerase which keeps them longer but it also directly boosts HGH and IGF-1 over 700 percent during the workout and the following hours after it. Hardcore exercise is a great way to raise IGF-1 without having to purchase questionable supplements or take injections.

Sufficient Sleep

While you sleep, your body goes through a lot of repair and recovery. It is also a chance for muscles to grow as well. Sleep will increase growth hormone which leads to higher IGF-1 levels. Since IGF-1 is one of the most anabolic hormones in the body, it is always nice to have a quick boost through some quality sleep. If you are not receiving enough rest, your body will not produce as much IGF-1 as it could.


Who doesn’t like sweating it out in the sauna? Not all health clubs have them, but there are quality ones that you can place in your house nowadays for about a thousand dollars. You might want to consider it as sauna use increases IGF-1 levels 142 percent. There was another study performed that showed IGF-1 levels went up 500 percent after two 15-minute sessions. Plus, saunas improve overall blood flow, meaning it can allow for quicker recovery.

IGF-1 and Bodybuilding

Bodybuilders have been using IGF-1 for quite some time now as it is incredible for adding lean muscle mass. It increases the number of cells in skeletal muscle which leads to lean tissue growth. This acts as a growth-hormone-releasing-hormone, and promotes solid muscle and bone growth and is an ideal supplement for those fanatics about health and fitness. IGF-1 is one of the best hormones available for achieving ultimate fitness results.

Final Thoughts on IGF-1

With so many benefits, it might be tempting to try increasing your IGF-1 levels. Most of the time, it is probably beneficial to do so. However, it is always a good idea to get a test done to determine exactly where your IGF-1 levels are currently at before you start adding supplements or even injections.

There are side effects with having too much or too little IGF-1 in your system, so pinpointing where yours is at this moment could give you an idea on what steps to take next.

Trying to increase IGF-1 through exercise, sauna use, vitamins and minerals, and certain foods could work wonders for you. When using supplements, though, it is always a bit risky since they are not always properly corroborated to be the real deal. Plus, unless you get a prescription through a doctor and have insurance cover the costs, IGF-1 injections can get expensive quickly.

It might be best to go the natural ways to increase IGF-1 before you start exploring outside of that realm. Eating right and getting the proper amount of exercise will make you feel years younger and can also combat against aging and disease.

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Strong Health Team
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