Testosterone supplements are typically used by men who want to increase the level of the male hormone testosterone that controls functions such as sexual desire and muscle gain. There are several types of over-the-counter testosterone supplements available in nutritional supply stores. You should speak to your doctor before using any type of testosterone supplement since none of the effects advertised have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, there are prescription-based testosterone therapies that produce better results.
The testicles produce an enzyme called 11ßHSD-1 which protects your testosterone molecules from the effects cortisol. During times of prolonged stress and chronically elevated cortisol, there simply is too much cortisol for 11ßHSD-1 to handle. This results in testosterone molecules being destroyed inside the gonads before they even enter the bloodstream (8, 9).
Decreased testosterone production in men with rheumatoid arthritis is a common finding (Stafford et al 2000), and it is now generally recognized that androgens have the capacity to suppress both the hormonal and cellular immune response and so act as one of the body’s natural anti-inflammatory agents (Cutolo et al 2002). This known anti-inflammatory action of testosterone has led to studying the effect of testosterone therapy in men with rheumatoid disease. Although not all studies have reported positive effects of testosterone treatment (Hall et al 1996), some studies do demonstrate an improvement in both clinical and chemical markers of the immune response (Cutolo et al 1991; Cutolo 2000). This observation would go along with more recent evidence that testosterone or its metabolites protects immunity by preserving the number of regulatory T cells and the activation of CD8+ T cells (Page et al 2006).
Zinc is little more of a nice-to-have ingredient than a must-have. It’s on our radar as an ingredient that possibly boosts testosterone levels, and while we couldn’t find enough supporting evidence that taking zinc would increase natural testosterone, low zinc levels have been connected to infertility. A low zinc level is also possibly a sign of hypogonadism. The closest support we found is in a study which found that people recovered from nutritional deficiency-related problems more quickly if they took a zinc supplement than those who did not. Zinc is available in many foods, such as oysters, fortified breakfast cereals, and red meat.
Now you know I prefer studies conducted on human participants instead of rodents, but often there is no choice. A Japanese study on rats that you can read here: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/131/8/2150.short has demonstrated pretty convincingly that garlic supplementation significantly increases testosterone. I wish there were more tests on humans but it turns out garlic isn’t patentable (sorry Monsanto) which means there isn’t enough financial interest to warrant human studies. Maybe I’ll conduct one. Any volunteers?
In summary it’s important to know that this topic is still hotly debated, and there are a lot of inconsistencies in the data. We do know that soy contains phytoestrogens and does seem to have a lot of affects on the body, including some studies that show decreased Testosterone levels. For that reason (and the fact that it tastes like ass) I avoid it, and I recommend you also avoid it (in particular soy isolates!) if you’re seeking higher testosterone.
Testosterone has several positive effects on sexual function, but its most significant effect is on libido, sexual interest and arousal. Boys going through puberty develop an enhanced interest in sex (thoughts, fantasies, masturbation, intercourse) as a consequence of rising levels of testosterone. Hypogonadal men usually have a significant improvement in libido when TRT is initiated (Wang et al 2000; Morley and Perry 2003).
Exercise boosts testosterone in two important ways. First, specific types of exercise actually cause our body to produce more testosterone. We’ll talk more about those in a bit. Second, exercise helps to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. As we’ve discussed previously, adipose tissue converts testosterone into estrogen. The less fat we get, the more T we have.
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^ Southren AL, Gordon GG, Tochimoto S, Pinzon G, Lane DR, Stypulkowski W (May 1967). "Mean plasma concentration, metabolic clearance and basal plasma production rates of testosterone in normal young men and women using a constant infusion procedure: effect of time of day and plasma concentration on the metabolic clearance rate of testosterone". The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 27 (5): 686–94. doi:10.1210/jcem-27-5-686. PMID 6025472.
Total levels of testosterone in the body are 264 to 916 ng/dL in men age 19 to 39 years, while mean testosterone levels in adult men have been reported as 630 ng/dL. Levels of testosterone in men decline with age. In women, mean levels of total testosterone have been reported to be 32.6 ng/dL. In women with hyperandrogenism, mean levels of total testosterone have been reported to be 62.1 ng/dL.
Although some men believe that taking testosterone medications may help them feel younger and more vigorous as they age, few rigorous studies have examined testosterone therapy in men who have healthy testosterone levels. And some small studies have revealed mixed results. For example, in one study healthy men who took testosterone medications increased muscle mass but didn't gain strength.