What is Deer Antler Velvet?
Deer antler velvet refers to antler in its growing, pre-calcified state.
Deer antlers are used primarily for mating purposes, to battle other male deer for mating rights. Male deer grow their first set of antlers when they hit puberty, at approximately one year of age.
When the antlers are growing, they are soft to the touch or spongy. Unlike horns, which are keratinized tissue, antlers are organs. They have blood vessels, nerves, skin, cartilage and bone. The outermost layer of skin covering a growing antler is hair-like in appearance and texture, and is simply called ‘velvet.’ Deer antler velvet is also commonly referred to as deer velvet, deer velvet antler, and lu rong (in Traditional Chinese Medicine).
Growth Cycle of Deer Antler Velvet
Testosterone plays an important part of the antler cycle. The seasonal changes in the amount of daylight ultimately control the secretion of the reproductive hormone testosterone in males. Growth of antlers typically begins in spring, as testosterone levels increase in response to increasing day light. A deer’s antlers can grow at a rate of ¼ inch per day. In just four months, deer antlers are fully developed.
Antler growth is one of the fastest known types of tissue growth in mammals, and the only example of an organ that is shed and regrown each year.
Towards the middle of summer, the antlers reach their full size and the cartilage in the antler begins to calcify. By late summer, when testosterone levels are at their peak, the blood vessels shut down around the base of the antlers and the antlers harden into bone.
Hard antlers remain on the deer through the peak until late fall or early winter. As the deer’s testosterone levels drop off, the antlers are shed. Antlers are grown and shed every year.
Deer antlers require a great deal of nutrients and energy to grow. Only the healthiest deer can grow large antlers. Hard antlers are comprised mostly out of calcium and phosphorus. Because deer do not consume much calcium as part of their diet, and the calcium in the antlers is produced by chemical reactions in their bodies, which draws heavily on the animal’s mineral reserves. Therefore, the size of antlers is an external demonstration of a deer’s fitness.
OUR COMPETITORS DON'T KNOW WHAT DEER ANTLER VELVET IS
"Deer antler velvet" is commonly described as the fuzzy, hair-like layer of skin on a growing antler. This is completely inaccurate. Deer antler velvet refers to the entire growing antler, NOT the outer covering. The outer covering is actually removed before processing and does not make its way into our product in any shape or form.
Some competitors erroneously state that their deer antler velvet and deer antler spray products are made from the outer covering of antlers. This glaring mistake demonstrates that these companies know nothing about deer antler velvet- what it is, how it is collected, and how it is processed. These "companies" simply put a label on a pre-made product in a rushed attempt to capitalize on the rising use of deer antler velvet. These companies have no real interest in selling a good product. Their representatives have likely never stepped foot in New Zealand, nor have they ever even seen a deer farm in their lifetime.
What is the Composition of Deer Antler Velvet?
The chemical composition of deer antler velvet is highly complex, containing nearly 40 key compounds and 400 active ingredients.
Deer antler velvet is a truly unique superfood, containing the most concentrated source of widely-diversified nutritional substances ever found in the plant or animal kingdom.
Although the ingredients are generally known, it is believed that the combination of ingredients as a whole contributes significantly to the efficacy of deer antler velvet. Specific substances rarely perform alone, and consuming a whole food as provided by nature, are superior to using isolated elements, whether synthetic or natural.
Deer antler velvet, in "whole-stick" form from tip to base, is composed of approximately: 53% proteins, 34% minerals, 3% lipids and 10% water. It contains 13 growth factors, 21 amino acids, 20 glycosaminoglycans and many minerals and trace elements.
Deer Antler Velvet Segments
Deer velvet antler can be divided into five segments: tips, uppers, middles, bottoms and bases. The top part, usually the last two inches of each branch of an antler, is called the tip. The segment from the beginning of the tip to the forks of the antler is called the upper. The segment between the upper and lower forks is called the middle. The segment between the lower forks and the base is called the bottom. The base is the last few inches of antler.
The concentration of nutrients in each of the five segments vary. Generally, moving from the base of the antler toward the tip, the protein and growth factor content increases, the lipid content increases and the mineral and ash content decreases. Also, as an antler hardens, the mineral content increases and the moisture content decreases.
The tips and upper parts of deer antler velvet are rich in protein, growth factors and lipids, and are thus more valued due to their high efficacy. The tips of deer antler velvet are particularly expensive, due to its rich source of growth factors including insulin growth factor, or IGF-1.
The base and bottom segments of deer antler velvet, on the other hand, are less effective, deficient parts of the antler. They have a high mineral content (15% calcium) and a high mineral ash content (40%). In appearance, the base and the bottom segments have porous centers, some white coloration, and narrow, dark rings around the outside. These segments are the least active part of the antler, and therefore are the least expensive.
Antler Farms® uses only the best components - tips, uppers and middles - to produce the strongest deer antler velvet products.
By excluding the low yielding parts of antler, Antler Farms® produces a nutrient rich deer antler velvet that is superior to any other product on the market.
The Effects of IGF-1
IGF-1 is a hormone that is produced naturally in the human body and circulates in the blood. It contains seventy amino acid polypeptides that are produced by the liver as an endocrine hormone.
IGF-1 has many effects on the body. In childhood, it is important for growth (the highest levels in humans occur during puberty). In adults, it has anabolic effects. IGF-1 aids growth and stops cell death in normal ranges. The hormone stimulates growth in most cells of the body, including skeletal muscle, cartilage, bone, nerves and skin. It increases the number and size of cells.
IGF-1 plays a role in cell repair to the brain, heart and muscles. It speeds recovery and muscle regeneration. In addition, IGF-1 reduces body fat by stopping insulin from moving glucose through the body, resulting in the body using fat as a source of energy instead of glucose. Increasing the levels of IGF-1 in the body can increase the body’s ability to build muscle, recover from injury or workouts, and burn fat.
Deer antler velvet is composed of:
Proteins and Growth Factors