HCG is a hormone that occurs naturally in the human body and has a very specific role. Some for-profit companies promote HCG supplementation, claiming such benefits as weight loss or fertility enhancement. Despite these claims, however, it is important to educate yourself about this hormone so that you can make a wise decision for your health now and in the future.
HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, which is the human pregnancy hormone. It is produced by the placenta and assists in the development of the growing fetus. HCG is only present naturally during pregnancy, and can be detected in urine and blood tests as early as 11 days past conception, notes the American Pregnancy Association. There are no foods containing HCG, and there are no methods to increase its levels in the body naturally.
HCG is present throughout pregnancy, and in a healthy pregnancy your HCG levels will increase naturally during the first trimester. According to the American Pregnancy Association, HCG levels in a normal pregnancy should double every 48 to 72 hours. During the second and third trimesters, HCG concentration level off and remain consistent until the baby is born.
HCG levels increase daily during the first trimester; however, each person’s levels are different. HCG is measured as mIU/ml, or milli-international units per milliliter of blood or urine, depending on the test you are using. A pregnancy at 5 weeks could have HCG levels as low as 18 mIU/ml or as high as 7340 mIU/ml, and a twin pregnancy produces much higher levels. It’s important to remember that, despite what the numbers are, the HCG levels should double every 48 to 72 hours.
There is no clinically proven method to naturally increase a woman's HCG level; however, there are synthetic supplements available by prescription and over-the-counter. Women undergoing fertility treatments may receive prescribed HCG injections, though it is not supplemented during pregnancy. The HCG Diet is a weight-loss plan consisting of HCG injections as well as severe calorie restriction of 500 calories per day. Its creator, Dr. Simeons, claims that injecting 125 IU of HCG can curb appetite and encourage fat loss. Few labs have repeated his results and many studies, such as one published in the "Archives of Internal Medicine," revealed HCG had no affect on weight loss.
HCG supplements are available commercially but are not regulated by the FDA, and therefore you won’t know if you are receiving the dosage written on the label. The HCG given to patients during fertility treatments, or those on the HCG Diet study, were under the care of a physician. Consult your doctor about HCG supplements for further information.