The latest and greatest performance enhancer, if you've been living under a rock, is deer antler velvet. On the surface, it seems like it could make sense. The coating on the antlers of young male deer that contribute to the growth of that part of their body could help athletes. First, the NFL prohibited Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson from endorsing it. Now, according to SI.com, Major League Baseball is warning players about using it.
Deer antler velvet can play a pivotal role in helping to not only relieve the symptoms of diseases that affect joints, such as osteoarthritis, they can possibly eliminate them entirely. The way it may do this is through the introduction of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate into the body. Both of these compounds are abundant in deer antler velvet.
The product smells like lemon-scented cleaner and bears a resemblance to murky pond water. I hesitantly tried the stuff and found it surprisingly palatable, with a lemon taste, but not too sour and slightly sweet. The directions say to take 14 drops under the tongue, three times a day, but I stopped after one dose — so I probably don't have a good chance of reaping the benefits, if there are any.
The first question to ask, is why? Why are you considering this supplement? A supplement is not intended to fix a crappy diet or poor exercise program. A supplement is intended to be just that, a supplement to your existing good diet/good exercise program. And if you’re eating a well-rounded diet, then there’s really no need for supplementation at all.
“I've been taking deer antler since 2012 so I've been taking it for years and I definitely believe in it. And for recovery after hard, intense workouts, deer antler is a must. Go to AntlerFarms.com, definitely get the [deer antler velvet extract tablets] and the [deer antler velvet capsules]. Take those two in combination and you will feel great.”*
Elk velvet antlers have been shown to contain chondroitin sulfate. This has a growth-promoting effect on cells throughout the body, which helps with recovery. This includes cells in the gut. It is believed that cartilage proteoglycans regulate water retention and differentiation and proliferation of chondrocytes inside cartilage tissue. Four types of collagen (I, II, III, and X) have also been identified in deer antlers. The collagen may provide benefits including rebuilding damaged parts of the GI tract, skin and joints. This might be beneficial for preventing or helping to treat leaky gut syndrome, which contributes to widespread symptoms.
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All groups experienced a significant improvement in strength. But the deer antler powder group showed the greatest increase in isokinetic knee extensor strength and endurance. However, it’s possible that this was due to exercise program rather than using the deer antler powder. None of the men in any group showed evidence of endocrine, red cell mass or VO2max changes. Therefore, researchers concluded that the “findings do not support an erythropoetic or aerobic ergogenic effect of deer antler velvet.” (12) On the other hand, this was a small study, with only 12-13 men in each group. This means that further testing is needed to confirm the validity of the results.
Velvet antler has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that classifies many similar substances from a variety of species under the simplified Chinese name 鹿茸; (pinyin Lu Rong) and the commercial name Cervi Cornu Pantorichum. The two common species used within the TCM system are sika deer and red deer which are thought to be useful for treating yang deficiency syndromes.
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