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Researchers believe that the imbalance between cartilage erosion and regeneration in osteoarthritis suffers is caused by a lack of glycosaminoglycans. Glycosaminoglycans play a vital role in the structural integrity of cartilage. The compound appears to inhibit enzymes that deplete cartilage nutrition. Chondroitin sulfate molecules are long chains of sugars and sulfur that create tiny spaces filled with fluid. These spaces protect and cushion joints.
More recent tests (Slievert, 2003) confirm deer antler velvet’s effects on muscle strength and endurance. In a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled experiment, 18 males entered a 10 week strength training program. Those who took deer antler velvet showed an increase in maximal aerobic capacity, an increase in strength in the bench press and leg squat, and decrease in body fat relative to the placebo group.
One study in men given 1.5g Velvet Antler for 11 weeks noted that intake of Velvet Antler was associated with a greater improvement in peak torque (30+/-21% more than baseline vs. placebo increasing 13+/-15%) and average power (21+/-19% vs. 7+/-12%) as assessed by leg extension; the authors noted that other parameters suggestive of power improvement (such as endocrine improvements or erythropoesis) did not occur and noted that replication is needed. The lack of aerobic improvement noted in this study is contrasted by another study using 2,700mg of Velvet Antler (two doses of 1,350mg daily for 10 weeks) which improved VO2 max by 9.8%, although this study had a remarkably high dropout rate of 44% which precludes conclusions that can be drawn.
Most of the world's supply of velvet antler comes from Sika deer, red deer and elk or wapiti, including a large deer ranching industry in New Zealand. New Zealand is the world’s largest producer of velvet, producing 450-500 tons of red deer velvet antler annually. China produces 400 tons of predominantly Sika deer velvet antler annually. Russia produces 80 tons annually. United States and Canada each produce 20 tons annually.
In a randomized, placebo controlled test in 2004, researchers at the University of Alberta, Canada, placed 18 males from the Edmonton Police Force into a 9 week strength training program. The results showed that deer antler velvet increased the strength and endurance of the subjects relative to the control group. The researchers found that use of deer antler velvet significantly increased blood plasma testosterone levels.