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Increased Usage By Pro Athletes Drives Deer Antler Supplement Popularity Among Amateur Athletes

Increased media coverage has driven interest in deer antler velvet, previously used only by professional athletes, in amateur athletes and fitness enthusiasts as well.


Performance enhancing scandals among professional athletes are not a new phenomenon.  Sports fans can hardly tune their TV to their favorite sports coverage without seeing another well-known athlete caught up in accusations of performance enhancing drugs, blood doping, or some other substance usage that gives them a perceived physical edge over the competition.

Most people presume that professional athletes, being richly compensated for their physical feats, are the people most likely to use (and have access to) any substance that would enhance athletic performance. In most cases that would be true, but an unusual exception to that rule is deer antler velvet. Because of its popular usage as a performance enhancing alternative to steroids among professional athletes, several governing bodies (most notably the NFL and PGA), have banned its usage. At one time Major League Baseball also banned it, but then later reversed course. The NCAA currently allows it, as does professional hockey. While some organizations technically “ban” its usage by their players, no test exists for a natural substance like antler velvet, so any ban would be largely unenforceable. Professional athletes know this, so their usage continues.

Deer antler velvet’s alleged effects on performance stem from it being a potent natural source of IGF-1, or Insulin-like Growth Factor. Found naturally in the body, IGF-1 is a chemical “cousin” to the body’s own human growth hormone. It spikes during periods of high anabolic activity, and is a key part of the body’s ability to regenerate after exhaustive physical activity, such as lifting weights or sports. The IGF-1 in deer antler velvet (along with other micro-nutrients and minerals found in the velvet) is primarily responsible for the rapid growth of new antler racks in the horns of male deer each year. This same form is easily absorbed by the human body, and these nutrients can be utilized by muscle tissue to rebuild, grow, and repair itself according to one Deer antler velvet spokesperson, Gabe Uris.

“The effects of deer antler velvet are well-documented both in clinical studies out of New Zealand, and in anecdotal evidence from pro-caliber athletes who swear by it” says Mr. Uris, a long-time proponent of deer antler velvet supplementation. “Most of our athletes see an effect literally within an hour of their first dose, 60 minutes after taking it they feel better recovered after strenuous workouts, and the science performed by researchers in New Zealand backs that.” While some researchers discount the effects of deer antler velvet, or doubt its ability to provide more than a negligible amount of IGF-1 to muscle tissue in a spray dosage, there is no indication that any negative side effects have occurred from its usage by either pro or amateur athletes.

For many amateurs, the attractiveness of no side effects, usage by professional athletes at the pinnacle of their sports, and the relative low cost (a 6-month cycle of one of the most popular products, AntlerX, retails online for less than forty dollars a bottle) of antler velvet usage may prove to alluring to resist. Until science finds the holy grail of inexpensive and safe “performance enhancers” to promote muscle gain and athletic performance, products like deer antler velvet spray will have a place in the sports world.

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