Important future developments will include selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). These drugs will be able to produce isolated effects of testosterone at androgen receptors. They are likely to become useful clinical drugs, but their initial worth may lie in facilitating research into the relative importance of testosterone’s action at the androgen receptor compared to at other sites or after conversion to other hormones. Testosterone will remain the treatment of choice for late onset hypogonadism for some time to come.
Here’s a scary thought: You may be less of a man than your father was—at least hormonally. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that, on average, testosterone levels were higher in men of the same age in the ’80s than they were in the 2000s (due, researchers speculate, to higher rates of obesity and the wider use of medication these days).
The effects of testosterone in humans and other vertebrates occur by way of two main mechanisms: by activation of the androgen receptor (directly or as DHT), and by conversion to estradiol and activation of certain estrogen receptors. Free testosterone (T) is transported into the cytoplasm of target tissue cells, where it can bind to the androgen receptor, or can be reduced to 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the cytoplasmic enzyme 5α-reductase. DHT binds to the same androgen receptor even more strongly than T, so that its androgenic potency is about 2.5 times that of T. The T-receptor or DHT-receptor complex undergoes a structural change that allows it to move into the cell nucleus and bind directly to specific nucleotide sequences of the chromosomal DNA. The areas of binding are called hormone response elements (HREs), and influence transcriptional activity of certain genes, producing the androgen effects.
In many of the studies we found, those who saw the most improvement in health, testosterone, or muscle gain were those with existing nutrient or vitamin deficiencies. This means that some gains may be due more to dietary changes and generally restoring nutrient and vitamin levels than any one magic ingredient, but also that making sure your diet includes healthy amounts of nutrients should be your first step.
Before assessing the evidence of testosterone’s action in the aging male it is important to note certain methodological considerations which are common to the interpretation of any clinical trial of testosterone replacement. Many interventional trials of the effects of testosterone on human health and disease have been conducted. There is considerable heterogenicity in terms of study design and these differences have a potential to significantly affect the results seen in various studies. Gonadal status at baseline and the testosterone level produced by testosterone treatment in the study are of particular importance because the effects of altering testosterone from subphysiological to physiological levels may be different from those of altering physiological levels to supraphysiological. Another important factor is the length of treatment. Randomised controlled trials of testosterone have ranged from one to thirty-six months in duration (Isidori et al 2005) although some uncontrolled studies have lasted up to 42 months. Many effects of testosterone are thought to fully develop in the first few months of treatment but effects on bone, for example, have been shown to continue over two years or more (Snyder et al 2000; Wang, Cunningham et al 2004).
If you’re already taking your tongkat ali, your maca, your fenugreek, and your tribulus, good job! Your testicles might be bursting at the seams. However, there is more you can do, another effective natural method. Consider adding foods that increase testosterone levels to your diet. If you are skeptical that it can really make a difference, eating these types of foods can increase testosterone by about 20%-30%. Or, if you’re like me and a huge Tim Ferriss fan, you actually believe his almost preposterous claim to having doubled his testosterone through diet alone. Read my article, Tim Ferriss’s testosterone diet, if you’re curious.
A number of epidemiological studies have found that bone mineral density in the aging male population is positively associated with endogenous androgen levels (Murphy et al 1993; Ongphiphadhanakul et al 1995; Rucker et al 2004). Testosterone levels in young men have been shown to correlate with bone size, indicating a role in determination of peak bone mass and protection from future osteoporosis (Lorentzon et al 2005). Male hypogonadism has been shown to be a risk factor for hip fracture (Jackson et al 1992) and a recent study showed a high prevalence of hypogonadism in a group of male patients with average age 75 years presenting with minimal trauma fractures compared to stroke victims who acted as controls (Leifke et al 2005). Estrogen is a well known determinant of bone density in women and some investigators have found serum estrogen to be a strong determinant of male bone density (Khosla et al 1998; Khosla et al 2001). Serum estrogen was also found to correlate better than testosterone with peak bone mass (Khosla et al 2001) but this is in contradiction of a more recent study showing a negative correlation of estrogen with peak bone size (Lorentzon et al 2005). Men with aromatase deficiency (Carani et al 1997) or defunctioning estrogen receptor mutations (Smith et al 1994) have been found to have abnormally low bone density despite normal or high testosterone levels which further emphasizes the important influence of estrogen on male bone density.
Stored food in glassware and never, ever, ever heated food in plastic containers. Most modern plastics contain phthalates. Phthalates are what give plastic their flexibility, durability, and longevity. But they also screw with hormones by imitating estrogen. Because I didn’t want any of those T-draining molecules in my food, I kept all my food in glassware. I also made sure to never heat food in plastic containers, as heat increases the transfer of phthalates into food.
"The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism" published that males who switched from a high-fat diet to a low-fat diet also saw a decrease in their testosterone levels. If you want to put some fat back into your diet without fearing cardiac implications, plant-based saturated fat like coconut is just the ticket. Meat-based fat is also acceptable if kept to less than 10% of your dietary fat intake.
Testosterone is significantly correlated with aggression and competitive behaviour and is directly facilitated by the latter. There are two theories on the role of testosterone in aggression and competition. The first one is the challenge hypothesis which states that testosterone would increase during puberty thus facilitating reproductive and competitive behaviour which would include aggression. Thus it is the challenge of competition among males of the species that facilitates aggression and violence. Studies conducted have found direct correlation between testosterone and dominance especially among the most violent criminals in prison who had the highest testosterone levels. The same research also found fathers (those outside competitive environments) had the lowest testosterone levels compared to other males.
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.