Ancient remedy revives athletes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Velvet antler extract could enhance athletic performance according
to a recent study. Used for over 2000 years in China, Russia and
Korea, a US company is hoping to introduce consumers to its many
nutritional benefits.

Recent research has uncovered that velvet antler contains a number of important nutrients, including Native Type II Collagen, Insulin-like growth factors (IGF's), Essential Fatty Acids, Chondroitin Sulfate, amino acids, minerals, trace minerals and other proteins.

Numerous health benefits of velvet antler have been reported through history by traditional healers and contemporary medical practitioners, including immune support, enhanced athletic and sexual performance, joint support, circulatory function and hypertension treatment.

Antlers are made of cartilage that contains nutrient-rich blood. They are covered with soft velvety fur from which the name is derived. Extensive analysis has shown that velvet contains a rich source of essential minerals for maintaining healthy bodies and small amounts of male and female hormones and natural steroids have also been found.

Human clinical trials at New Zealand's Otago University indicate a link between the velvet extract and improved strength and endurance. Scientists at Otago University Human Performance Center compared the development of muscle strength and endurance in male athletes taking a velvet supplement and others taking a placebo.

Writing in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism​ (vol 13, issue 3), they conclude that the group taking the powdered form of New Zealand deer velvet showed greater improvements in isokinetic strength and muscular endurance as a result of training than the control group. The ground-up velvet was also thought to help in the recovery of muscle tissue damage.

Used in the Eastern world for centuries, velvet antler has gone largely unnoticed in the western nutritional supplements market until now. US firm Nutragenesis​ has recently introduced the antler ingredient Imperial Velvet, extracted from New Zealand Red Deer, to the US dietary supplements market.

Available as a freeze dried powder, Imperial Velvet is sold in tablets or capsules as stand-alone supplements or as a nutritional ingredient for condition-specific formulations. Also claimed to provide anti-aging and anti-cancer effects, the ingredient is undergoing continued clinical testing.

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