A notable study out of Wayne State University in Indiana found that older men who had a mild zinc deficiency significantly increased their testosterone from 8.3 to 16.0 nmol/L—a 93 percent increase—following six months of zinc supplementation. Researchers of the study concluded that zinc may play an important role in modulating serum testosterone levels in normal healthy men.6
Testosterone is considered to be the "male hormone" that's produced in men by the testes. Although women's ovaries produce some testosterone, the hormone is produced in much higher concentrations in men and it is responsible for many of the secondary sex characteristics seen in men such as a deeper voice and hair on the chest, in addition to contributing to a healthy libido, building muscle mass, and maintaining energy levels.
1. Go Mediterranean. Keeping up with specific types of food that you should or should not eat can be hard, especially if you don’t have a general guide. There are a number of studies that have concluded that the Mediterranean diet can indeed boost the amount of testosterone in the body, and enhance the strength of an erection as well. The Mediterranean diet contains a lot of healthy fat, like polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat. Aside from being pro-testosterone, the Mediterranean diet is also the only diet that is certified to help decrease the chances of developing cancer and heart conditions. Those who are taking erection enhancement supplements can also benefit from the Mediterranean diet. This type of diet originated from the Southern part of Greece, and is composed of food groups such as nuts, whole grains, fruits, extra virgin olive oil, red wine, fats and vegetables.
Finally, we looked at the proprietary blends of our remaining boosters, and dug into their ingredient lists. Supplements frequently include ingredients known for their “folk-lore” value; they’re believed to work, even when there isn’t any scientific background to prove it. Though we didn’t ding points if an ingredient wasn’t proven to be good (just so long as it wasn’t proven to be bad), we didn’t want to include any ingredient with evidence of causing harm.
If you’re a frequent reader here in AM, you already know that increased dietary fat intake is directly correlated with increased testosterone production. And not only that, but the types of fat that increase T seem to be saturated fats (SFAs) and monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), while polyunsaturated (PUFAs) actually tend to lower testosterone (more here).
If you're a man who's experiencing symptoms such as decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, and difficulties with concentration and memory, and you think low testosterone may be to blame, you can have your levels tested. Since testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day, you'll probably need more than a blood test to get a true picture of your levels.
Men can experience a range of symptoms if testosterone decreases more than it should. Low testosterone, or low T, is diagnosed when levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). A normal range is typically 300–1000 ng/dL, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A blood test called a serum testosterone test is used to determine your level of circulating testosterone.
Bottom line: testosterone boosters aren’t right for a lot of people. We dive deep into ingredient research below, but typically, testosterone boosters contain at least one (and often three or more) different ingredients that each impact your circulatory system — both the heart and blood. If you’re taking any kind of blood-thinner medication, or you have a history of heart disease, these supplements can get really dangerous, really quickly. The simple fact of the matter is that hormones are tricky things to mess with, and a doctor should be your first port of call to help you safely achieve your goals — whether they’re related to fitness, weight, or libido.
The natural production of DHEA is also age-dependent. Prior to puberty, the body produces very little DHEA. Production of this prohormone peaks during your late 20’s or early 30’s. With age, DHEA production begins to decline. The adrenal glands also manufacture the stress hormone cortisol, which is in direct competition with DHEA for production because they use the same hormonal substrate known as pregnenolone. Chronic stress basically causes excessive cortisol levels and impairs DHEA production, which is why stress is another factor for low testosterone levels.
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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.
I recommend using a trans-mucosal DHEA cream. Applying it to the rectum or if you are a a woman, your vagina, will allow the mucous epithelial membranes that line your mucosa to perform effective absorption. These membranes regulate absorption and inhibit the production of unwanted metabolites of DHEA. I personally apply 50 milligrams of trans-rectal DHEA cream twice a day – this has improved my own testosterone levels significantly. However, please note that I do NOT recommend prolonged supplementation of hormones. Doing so can trick your body into halting its own DHEA production and may cause your adrenals to become seriously impaired down.
Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, russets, red potatoes, purple potatoes, etc. If it’s a potato, you should be eating it. Potatoes are excellent no-gluten source of testosterone boosting carbohydrates, and also very dense in nutrients. Stock pile your pantry full of them, and make potatoes your main carbohydrate source. Heck, if you can find potato chips that haven’t been laden with polyunsaturated fats, go for those too.
In order to discuss the biochemical diagnosis of hypogonadism it is necessary to outline the usual carriage of testosterone in the blood. Total serum testosterone consists of free testosterone (2%–3%), testosterone bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) (45%) and testosterone bound to other proteins (mainly albumin −50%) (Dunn et al 1981). Testosterone binds only loosely to albumin and so this testosterone as well as free testosterone is available to tissues and is termed bioavailable testosterone. Testosterone bound to SHBG is tightly bound and is biologically inactive. Bioavailable and free testosterone are known to correlate better than total testosterone with clinical sequelae of androgenization such as bone mineral density and muscle strength (Khosla et al 1998; Roy et al 2002). There is diurnal variation in serum testosterone levels with peak levels seen in the morning following sleep, which can be maintained into the seventh decade (Diver et al 2003). Samples should always be taken in the morning before 11 am to allow for standardization.
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Fatherhood decreases testosterone levels in men, suggesting that the emotions and behavior tied to decreased testosterone promote paternal care. In humans and other species that utilize allomaternal care, paternal investment in offspring is beneficial to said offspring's survival because it allows the parental dyad to raise multiple children simultaneously. This increases the reproductive fitness of the parents, because their offspring are more likely to survive and reproduce. Paternal care increases offspring survival due to increased access to higher quality food and reduced physical and immunological threats. This is particularly beneficial for humans since offspring are dependent on parents for extended periods of time and mothers have relatively short inter-birth intervals. While extent of paternal care varies between cultures, higher investment in direct child care has been seen to be correlated with lower average testosterone levels as well as temporary fluctuations. For instance, fluctuation in testosterone levels when a child is in distress has been found to be indicative of fathering styles. If a father's testosterone levels decrease in response to hearing their baby cry, it is an indication of empathizing with the baby. This is associated with increased nurturing behavior and better outcomes for the infant.
Intramuscular testosterone injections were first used around fifty years ago. Commercially available preparations contain testosterone esters in an oily vehicle. Esterification is designed to retard the release of testosterone from the depot site into the blood because the half life of unmodified testosterone would be very short. For many years intramuscular preparations were the most commonly used testosterone therapy and this is still the case in some centers. Pain can occur at injection sites, but the injections are generally well tolerated and free of major side effects. Until recently, the available intramuscular injections were designed for use at a frequency of between weekly and once every four weeks. These preparations are the cheapest mode of testosterone treatment available, but often cause supraphysiological testosterone levels in the days immediately following injection and/or low trough levels prior to the next injection during which time the symptoms of hypogonadism may return (Nieschlag et al 1976). More recently, a commercial preparation of testosterone undecanoate for intramuscular injection has become available. This has a much longer half life and produces testosterone levels in the physiological range throughout each treatment cycle (Schubert et al 2004). The usual dose frequency is once every three months. This is much more convenient for patients but does not allow prompt cessation of treatment if a contraindication to testosterone develops. The most common example of this would be prostate cancer and it has therefore been suggested that shorter acting testosterone preparations should preferably used for treating older patients (Nieschlag et al 2005). Similar considerations apply to the use of subcutaneous implants which take the form of cylindrical pellets injected under the skin of the abdominal wall and steadily release testosterone to provide physiological testosterone levels for up to six months. Problems also include pellet extrusion and infection (Handelsman et al 1997).
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).
It's important to understand that your body requires saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources (such as meat, dairy, certain oils, and tropical plants like coconut) for optimal functioning, and if you neglect this important food group in favor of sugar, grains and other starchy carbs, your health and weight are almost guaranteed to suffer. Examples of healthy fats you can eat more of to give your testosterone levels a boost include:
"I went from 230 pounds down to 192. When my son got married, I went for the suit fitting, and I was a size 48. When I went back to do the final fitting, I was a 44! I want to keep getting it for the weight loss; I lost 4 inches around my belly, and I want to get rid of the rest of the weight around my belly. I’m 57, and my wife says I look like I’m back in my 30s. I have more energy for sure, and I’m going to participate in one of those Savage races where they have the obstacle courses with one of our kids."
What you really need to worry about is the level of triglycerides in your blood. High triglycerides are a big warning sign for potential cardiovascular problems and disease. Again, to keep your triglycerides low while on a high cholesterol diet, take in a lot of veggies, limit your carb intake (especially sugars), supplement with omega 3 fish oil (more fat to make your cholesterol better – ironic right?), and exercise regularly.
You should also know that a lot of people are deficient in Vitamin D. In the USA & many other western regions in the world, vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions. The best way to increase your D levels is sun exposure. You only need 20-30 minutes of exposure to a large amount of skin (i.e., take your shirt off and go for a walk during the day).
Intracoronary artery infusion of testosterone causes significant coronary artery dilatation and not constriction as previously thought (Webb et al 1999). When degree of coronary obstruction is assessed by angiography, there is a direct relationship between degree of coronary artery narrowing and reduced testosterone levels (Phillips et al 1994). Men with low testosterone levels have been observed to have: premature atherosclerosis, increased visceral adipose tissue, hyperinsulinemia, and other risk factors for myocardial infarction (Phillips 2005). Insulin resistance has been shown to be associated with a decrease in Leydig cell secretion of testosterone (Pitteloud et al 2005). Muller and colleagues suggest that low endogenous total testosterone and SHBG levels increase the risk of metabolic syndrome in aging and aged men. They demonstrated that low levels of testosterone are related to lower insulin sensitivity and higher fasting insulin levels (Muller et al 2005). These authors speculate that testosterone might play a protective role in the development of metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease in aging men.
Testosterone treatment is unequivocally needed in classical hypogonadism for reasons discussed in subsequent subsections. In classical hypogonadism, testosterone production is usually clearly below the lower limit of normal and patients are highly symptomatic; the various symptoms are easily related to the deficiencies in various bodily systems where testosterone action is important. Symptoms of testosterone deficiency are listed in Table 2. A few prominent causes of classical hypogonadism are listed in Table 3.
We scoured the database of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (part of the U.S. National Library of Science) for articles. Of the many ingredients marketed as boosting testosterone levels, we only found four backed by multiple articles based on human testing. For the best chance of boosting testosterone levels, a supplement needs to contain magnesium, fenugreek, and longjack — and some zinc wouldn’t go astray, either.
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?
One study looking at alcohol consumption found that increasing alcohol consumption led to a higher level of free & total testosterone compared to a non-drinking control group (20). Drinking did however lower SHBG testosterone levels, though this type of testosterone is bound to a protein meaning our bodies cannot use it to build muscle or increase our mood.
Why the difference? The discrepancy in findings between these studies is likely due to the initial training status and base testosterone levels of the subjects. While more research is warranted on this ingredient, D-AA is one of several ingredients suggested to be effective in boosting test levels, especially for older men whose natural testosterone levels have declined due to the natural course of aging.
There are several supplements on the market claiming to be natural testosterone boosters. I get these sorts of things in the mail all time. The companies that produce these products claim that the herbs (typically stinging nettle and tribulus) in their pills increase free testosterone by reducing SHBG. They also throw in some B vitamins for “increased energy and vitality.”
The production of the stress hormone cortisol blocks the production and effects of testosterone. From a biological perspective, cortisol increases your “fight or flight” response, thereby lowering testosterone-associated functions such as mating, competing, and aggression. Chronic stress can take a toll on testosterone production, as well as your overall health. Therefore, stress management is equally important to a healthy diet and regular exercise. Tools you can use to stay stress-free include prayer, meditation, laughter, and yoga. Relaxation skills, such as deep breathing and visualization, can also promote your emotional health.
Overall, few patients have a compelling contraindication to testosterone treatment. The majority of men with late onset hypogonadism can be safely treated with testosterone but all will require monitoring of prostate parameters HDL cholesterol, hematocrit and psychological state. It is also wise to monitor symptoms of sleep apnea. Other specific concerns may be raised by the mode of delivery such as local side effects from transdermal testosterone.
Studies have demonstrated reduced testosterone levels in men with heart failure as well as other endocrine changes (Tappler and Katz 1979; Kontoleon et al 2003). Treatment of cardiac failure with chronic mechanical circulatory support normalizes many of these changes, including testosterone levels (Noirhomme et al 1999). More recently, two double-blind randomized controlled trials of testosterone treatment for men with low or low-normal serum testosterone levels and heart failure have shown improvements in exercise capacity and symptoms (Pugh et al 2004; Malkin et al 2006). The mechanism of these benefits is currently unclear, although a study of the acute effects of buccal testosterone given to men with chronic cardiac failure under invasive monitoring showed that testosterone increased cardiac index and reduced systemic vascular resistance (Pugh et al 2003). Testosterone may prove useful in the management of cardiac failure but further research is needed.
The aim of treatment for hypogonadism is to normalize serum testosterone levels and abolish symptoms or pathological states that are due to low testosterone levels. The exact target testosterone level is a matter of debate, but current recommendations advocate levels in the mid-lower normal adult range (Nieschlag et al 2005). Truly physiological testosterone replacement would require replication of the diurnal rhythm of serum testosterone levels, but there is no current evidence that this is beneficial (Nieschlag et al 2005).
Epidemiological studies have also assessed links between serum testosterone and non-coronary atherosclerosis. A study of over 1000 people aged 55 years and over found an inverse correlation between serum total and bioavailable testosterone and the amount of aortic atherosclerosis in men, as assessed by radiological methods (Hak et al 2002). Increased intima-media thickness (IMT) is an early sign of atherosclerosis and has also been shown to predict cardiovascular mortality (Murakami et al 2005). Cross-sectional studies have found that testosterone levels are negatively correlated with carotid IMT in independently living men aged 74–93 years (van den Beld et al 2003), diabetic men (Fukui et al 2003) and young obese men (De Pergola et al 2003). A 4-year follow up study of the latter population showed that free testosterone was also inversely correlated with the rate of increase of IMT (Muller et al 2004).
If a young man's low testosterone is a problem for a couple trying to get pregnant, gonadotropin injections may be an option in some cases. These are hormones that signal the body to produce more testosterone. This may increase the sperm count. Hedges also describes implantable testosterone pellets, a relatively new form of treatment in which several pellets are placed under the skin of the buttocks, where they release testosterone over the course of about three to four months. Injections and nasal gels may be other options for some men.