As legend (or myth) would have it, 16th century explorer Juan Ponce de León came to America in search of the “fountain of youth.” While we know there’s no such “fountain” down in Florida, some would suggest that such a magic elixir can be found inside the human body. Indeed, growth hormone has been referred to as the “fountain of youth” and a key anti-aging hormone.
Growth hormone levels are high early in life, corresponding to the period of rapid growth, and they begin to decline after attainment of adult body size and full physical and reproductive maturation. This decline continues during adult life and aging, and not surprisingly, growth hormone levels in older folks are substantially lower than young adults.
The age-related decline in growth hormone (and its associated hormones) has been referred to as “somatopause” in analogy with menopause and andropause, the age- related decline in sex hormones in women and men, respectively. Somatopause is associated with several very important characteristics of aging:
There’s no question that among the most well-known functions of growth hormone are increased fat breakdown and utilization and increased protein synthesis.
Numerous studies have shown that growth hormone therapy decreases the signs of biological aging in folks who are deficient. Treatment has been shown to improve body composition (reduce body fat, increase muscle mass), increase bone density, and increase skin thickness.