What is Human Growth Hormone?
Human Growth Hormone is an essential hormone produced by the pituitary gland. HGH stimulates growth, cellular reproduction, and cell regeneration in humans. It is crucial for children and adolescents for their physical growth and development. Apart from this, it also has an important role in adults. HGH increases protein synthesis, muscle mass, and promotes lipolysis.
Does HGH deficiency affect adults?
It is a common misconception that growth hormones are only required during the growing phases of our life. People assume that the only disease caused by Growth Hormone Deficiency is stunted growth as a child. However, due to its role in muscle growth and fat loss throughout life, it also has important functions in adulthood. Based on the theory, it seems that a person who has HGH deficiency could potentially gain weight because a lack of HGH could inhibit lipolysis and thus promote fat deposition. For answers to this frequently asked question, you can find tons of information online which might confuse you further. But careful research from scientific papers is required to truly answer this question. Therefore, after much study and research, we have information that actually shows the relationship between GH levels and weight loss.
Although HGH deficiency effects in children have been well researched and documented, its effect on adults has only been recently studied. According to findings from recent research, HGH deficiency has clear connections with changes in body structure. People who lack HGH suffer from weight gain, increased fat deposits, and reduced muscle mass.
Research on HGH deficiency and weight loss
A recent study revealed an increase in total body fat by 7 percent and a decrease in muscle mass in a truncal distribution, which resulted in an increase in the ratio of waist to hip. Additionally, the results reported abnormal lipid levels, with a decrease in HDL levels and an increase in LDL levels. LDL enhances plaque formation in the arteries while HDL inhibits this process. Plaque formation can eventually lead to myocardial infarction. An overall increase in vascular wall thickness, as well as plaque formation, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease-related mortality. Thus, patients with HGH deficiency are associated with higher mortality due to the resultant abnormality in lipid levels.
Blockage in the arteries means reduced oxygen supply to the muscles and shortness of breath with mild exercise. Not only does plaque formation increase the risk of death from an infarction, but it also severely limits exercise capacity, which in turn reduces the ability to lose weight.
HGH deficiency results in reduced muscle mass. As we all know, our heart is a muscular blood-pumping organ. GH deficiency also affects the muscle mass in our heart resulting in reduced left ventricular mass and a subsequent decrease in cardiac output. The reduced cardiac output means reduced blood supply and easy fatigue with breathlessness from simple exercises. Thus reduced exercise capacity again results in difficulty losing weight.
A recent study proved that exercise capacity is reduced by 20 to 25 percent in growth hormone-deficient people in comparison to people with normal levels.
What can you do about it?
Does this mean that if you suffer from a growth hormone deficiency, you have to remain obese all your life? Thanks to new developments in medicine, there is no need for despair. Many treatment modalities are available now that can help you address this issue.
HGH Injections (Recombinant HGH Therapy)
Currently, some small studies have been conducted showing that raising GH levels with Somatropin injections results in fat loss and muscle gain. HGH injections are not recommended for use as a weight-loss regimen as the risks outweigh the benefits. It should only be used in people who have proven HGH deficiency.
HGH can be found in the injectable form with weekly or daily dosage but it can only be bought with a doctor’s prescription. It has been approved for use in adults and children who have a growth hormone deficiency, for organ transplant patients, and for muscle wasting in AIDS patients. In patients with HGH deficiency, HGH therapy can result in significant improvement with changes in body composition. An overall reduction in fat mass with an associated increase in muscle mass has been observed in research studies. In a study of 24 adults with HGH deficiency, low dose HGH injections were found to normalized lean body mass over a 6 month period.
Although many companies claim that HGH is equally effective in powder or pill form, clinical trials have found it to be effective only in injectable forms.
HGH supplements (HGH Releasers)
Many companies have manufactured products, which claim to raise HGH levels by stimulating the pituitary gland into making more somatotropin. They obviously have fewer side effects in comparison to the injectable forms however, their efficacy is debatable in comparison to injectable HGH.
For people who do not have a life-threatening HGH deficiency, HGH releasers may be sufficient though.
Salomon F, Cuneo RC, Hesp R et al. The Effects of Treatment with Recombinant Human Growth Hormone on Body Composition and Metabolism in Adults with Growth Hormone Deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine 1989;321:1797-1803.
Cuneo RC, Salomon F, Wiles CM et al. Growth Hormone Treatment in Growth Hormone Deficient Adults. II. Effects on Exercise Performance. Journal of Applied Physiology 1991;70:695-700.