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Lipotropin is an amino acid created naturally by the human pituitary gland that functions as a growth hormone. In particular, it stimulates the growth of soft muscle fibers, and can also play a role in proper metabolic functioning. Most healthy people produce the right amounts to facilitate normal growth and development, but the hormone has been synthesized and extracted for use in medications as well, and is often a part of treatment for various developmental and growth issues. People sometimes also take supplements or synthetic versions in order to intentionally grow healthy muscles larger. This practice is perhaps most popular amongst athletes and bodybuilders. Since the hormone is natural it doesn’t usually show up on steroid screens or other doping tests, but excessive use has nevertheless been banned by many professional sporting associations. People sometimes also choose this supplement as a means of countering the natural effects of aging, but results in these cases tend to be mixed.
The hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland, which is the hormonal center in healthy humans, and its synthesis can be somewhat complex. In most cases the pituitary gland begins by secreting a substance known as pro-opiomelanocortin, which then splits, or “cleaves,” to form to separate substances: lipotropin and the related hormone adrenocorticotropin. Both are important to human growth, though they perform different roles and in different places.
Lipotropin takes the form of a polypeptide amino acid, and it has 90 different amino strains. Its main role is muscle building and strength retention, though it also plays a role in proper metabolic functioning. It can help trigger proper nutrient processing and efficient energy usage, and is considered one of the wider category of human growth hormones (hGH).
Human growth hormones are responsible for optimizing the performance of glands and organs. As people age, hGH depletes. Lipotropin stimulates hGH and thus slows the aging process; in some people, this is more pronounced than in others, depending on individual production levels.
It is sometimes the case that people will choose to take extra, or supplemental, hormones in order to reduce visible signs of aging. Anti-aging properties are said to include fat loss, boosted energy levels, enhanced immune system, and wrinkle reduction. The hormone is frequently offered in liquid form to be sprayed under the tongue for immediate, effective absorption into the bloodstream. It is usually recommended that the spray be used morning and night. Supplements are also offered in capsule form.
In addition, the hormone might also be combined with other body-building supplements such as mucopolysaccharides complex, a vitamin used to improve joint health. Ascorbic acid, otherwise known as vitamin C, may be added as well to enhance the immune system. Niacin helps control cholesterol levels and metabolizing fat. Vitamin E, or d-alpha tocopheryl, may also be added to protect cells from damaging free radicals.
While people often see results when using this hormone, there are also a number of risks associated with taking it. In the US, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations are not enforced in the vitamin and dietary supplement market. What this means is that manufacturers aren’t required to submit to testing, produce reports of efficacy, or certify their products in any way. They are not held to the same standards as pharmaceutical companies so there may be little or no clinical, scientific evidence supporting their claims or their products.
In most countries, though, the US included, manufacturers are required to provide clear information on product labels. This includes facts about what is contained in each "serving," and a list of inactive ingredients or fillers. The responsibility is on the manufacturer to monitor and maintain appropriate practices when producing these substances, but the onus is usually on the customer to find the right product for a given condition or issue.
It is important to remember that there is currently no "miracle" spray or capsule that can make people quickly lose weight, gain muscle mass, lose wrinkles, and improve immune function. While the science of aging is continually advancing, living a well-rounded, healthy life is still the best way to increase one's chances of living a long and productively. Anyone who wants to get in shape and feel and look younger should eat right, exercise, and follow a healthy lifestyle. Adding hormonal supplements can be helpful, but it isn’t normally a solution in and of itself.
The Essendon Football Club, who are an Australian Rules Football team, is under investigation for their alleged use of lipotropin. The club is under investigation for allegedly administering lipotropin, under its alternate name AOD-9604, to their players in the 2012 season.