What exactly causes low testosterone?
Before we start looking at the herbs, vitamins, and nutrients that’ll put the fire back into the smolder of your testosterone production, it’s important to look at exactly why you’re hormone levels are simmering on the background rather than exploding in the face of your significant other.
Low testosterone is an issue facing more and more men.
There are over 3 million Americans suffering from clinically low anabolic hormone levels.
And according to large reviews such as the HIM study (Mulligan, T et al. Prevalence of hypogonadism in males aged at least 45 years: the HIM study. Int J Clin Pract. 2006 Jul 1; 60(7): 762-769) , 40% of men aged 45 have low testosterone.
What’s a healthy and safe testosterone level?
It’s pretty difficult to say exactly what your blood testosterone should be because it naturally changes based on genetics, lifestyle, and age.
The standard 300-1,000 ng.dL is a benchmark that most clinicians use. And as soon as you fall below that lower threshold, your doctor will diagnose you with hypogonadism – low T.
But remember this. It’s different for everyone.
One man could feel on top of the world with a T level of 350 ng.dL. He might be able to run a fast 10 km race, lift his body weight on the bench press, and leave his lover a quivering mess from multiple orgasms after a 2-hour bedroom marathon.
Another man might have a T level of 500 ng.dL and feel lethargic, tired, weak and much more interested in watching the game than going to bed early with their partner.
The cause of your low T could be caused by different mechanisms
Because testosterone is produced as part of a complex system of communication between your brain, glands, and testes, there’s a lot that can go wrong.
However, most guys that suffer from low T find that it’s caused by one of two mechanisms;
- Primary hypogonadism – the Leydig cells of your testes can’t function well enough to directly produce androgen hormones
- Secondary hypogonadism – the ‘trigger’ that the Leydig cells need doesn’t arrive from your brain.
Regardless of the cause, the result of low T is always the same though.
What are the symptoms of low testosterone?
The specific symptoms of low T vary from one man to the next. Both in terms of type and magnitude.
If you’re lucky, you might just suffer a bit of muscle loss and a bit of belly fat. Less fortunate guys might end up depressed, feel worthless, be at risk of a range of illnesses and even die early.
Here are the common side effects of hypogonadism:
- Loss of energy, vigor and motivation
- Decreased libido, sexual performance and fertility
- Higher risk of illness and early death
- Loss of bone and muscle mass
- Increased risk of obesity, belly fat and man boobs
- Anxiety, frustration and depression – a miserable outlook on life
TRT – The Alternative to Natural Test Boosters
So we figured that there’s a good chance you are here because;
- A medical professional has diagnosed you with Low T
- You suspect you have Low T
- Your wife suspects you have Low T
And you want to look at all the options. 10 years ago there weren’t many options, but nowadays there are plenty. We’ve already covered the natural test booster angle, let’s take a quick look at the other alternatives you’ve got.
OK, we are going to transport you back in time to High School chemistry lessons here. To make it more interesting, in your mind’s eye replace your chemistry teacher with Walter White from Breaking Bad.
Free testosterone has a half life of ten minutes.
So every ten minutes the levels of effective free test halve. After one hour, levels are 1/64 of the original. This constitutes ‘perishable’. To stop it perishing they esterify the testosterone in oil, and it can then be injected into muscle using a basic hypodermic syringe. Easy.
Surgical implants sound very modern but testosterone implants have been about since Adolf Hitler was in power. 3 to 6 crystallized testosterone pellets are inserted under the skin arond the thighs and abdomen and break down over a period of 6 months releasing test into your system.
Now this one is a modern development. The testosterone is taken twice a day in tablet form, you hold it in your cheek next to the gum whilst it dissolves.
By absorbing it in this way it gets into the bloodstream very quickly, and less of the test is metabolized by muscular tissue.
Applied via a patch or gel, daily in the morning. Transdermal testosterone patches were initially developed to be applied directly to a shaved scrotum.
You can imagine how popular that was. Presumably the halfwit that came up with that plan was quickly dismissed and new more acceptable application method developed.
A very uncommon TRT method in the USA (as the FDA never approved the testosterone derivative used), but more common in Europe. Not new, been available for many years.
Low Testosterone Nutrients That Really Work
Although a large proportion of men suffer from low T as they age, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s not age itself that lowers your hormone levels – it’s just your lifestyle catching up with you .
And that means you CAN put measures in place to reverse the hole that you find yourself in. And you can DEFINITELY rediscover that young man that you once were.
Whether you’re in your early thirties, fifties or seventies, you can make a change – and that’s where testosterone-boosting nutrients come in.
Not all testosterone boosting nutrients are made the same. The unfortunate truth is that some manufacturers give you false hope. They make promises that your physiology just can’t cash in. You try the product for a few weeks and absolutely nothing, leaving you feeling disappointed and out of pocket.
But there are some that will take your low hormone levels and ramp them up faster than you could ever imagine.
Because nature has given you everything you need to get back on track. You just need to put your focus into something that actually works, rather than spending your hard-earned money and time on pipe dreams.
Here are the very best testosterone-enhancing nutrients to get you from hypogonadal to hypermasculine.
Known as the sunshine nutrient, vitamin D is a type of secosteroid hormone.
Ideally your body would make all the vitamin d you need from the UV rays of the sun. Through a complex series of chemical conversions, UV light is converted in vitamin D by your own body.
In terms of testosterone, vitamin D acts as a precursor. And various studies have found a strong association between the two.
One German research project found that when 54 overweight men were given 3,333 IU of vitamin D3 per day for 12 month, total T increased from 10.7 – 13.4 nmol.L and free T from 0.22 – 0.27 .
Unless you live on a beach in the hottest climate on earth, chances are you don’t get enough to support optimal conversion.
Even foods high in vitamin D such as oily fish, eggs and fortified cereal rarely provide enough of the nutrient to optimize hormonal health.
In fact, one study found that as many as 42% of American are deficient in the sunshine nutrient . Those that live further from the equator or have darker skin are very unlikely to get what they need from the sun.
Current guidelines suggest higher doses of vitamin D3 – the most potent version of vitamin D is best for health and performance.
It’s estimated that the body requires 3000-5000 IU of vitamin D per day to meet the needs of every tissue and cell in the body .
This includes raising and maintaining testosterone levels in men too.
However, higher doses of 6,000-8,000  IU have been linked to better athletic performance, testosterone enhancement and better muscle recovery, so premium vitamin D3 products tend to go towards the higher end.
The humble mineral zinc is found in foods such as oyster, beef and shellfish. It’s an essential nutrient meaning your body can’t make its own. You have to get it from your diet.
The problem is that with 2 billion people worldwide suffering from zinc deficiency, chances are you don’t get enough of it .
Zinc promotes overall health by regulating cell growth, controlling metabolism, maintaining brain function and making sure your prostate stays healthy. There’s also a strong link between zinc supplementation and lower risk of cardiovascular disease too.
If you’re the kind of guy that likes to hit things hard in the gym, znc is your new best friend. Heavy exercise decreases testosterone temporarily, but when volunteers used 3 mg per kg of body weight over a 4-week period, their testosterone levels didn’t decrease .
If you’re struggling with fertility zinc is your go-to nutrient. In a group of nearly 40 men, zinc supplements used as testosterone boosters helped increase both T and DHT (a type of strong androgen hormone like testosterone) .
In fact, results were so potent that 9 of those men not only regained their fertility but managed to get their partners pregnant too… so be careful out there!
Optimal dose: 30 mg
It might be the hardest nutrient on this to pronounce, but ashwagandha is one for your shopping cart if hormone optimization is your end goal.
As an adaptogen, Ayurvedic herb, ashwagandha contains several bioactive ingredients – alkaloids, fatty acids and steroidal lactones being the most common.
Its name might mean ‘smell of horse’. But don’t let that put you off. It’s been used to boost mood (which is why it’s used more and more in nootropic supplements), exercise performance and cognitive function in both young and older guys.
But what’s really of interest here is its potential to ramp up testosterone.
It’s understudied at present, but the studies that are available show promising results. One in particular jumps out as it showed 15% increases in androgen hormone levels after only 8 weeks of trial during intense weight lifting .
They also reported lower levels of muscle damage too, meaning recovery was better after hard workouts with weights.
That was in a sample of with guys including some in their 50s too.
Optimal dose: 600 mg
Another dietary mineral, boron is chemical element found in foods such as raisins, brazil nuts, prunes and apricots.
Boron acts as an important ‘chaperone’, helping shuttle other minerals such as calcium and phosphorous where it’s needed. It reduces symptoms of osteoporosis, arthritis and helps regulate cell membrane function too.
In terms of testosterone, boron is the uber-cool new kid on the block. Although there aren’t as many clinical trials to fall on compared to nutrients like vitamin D3, short-term boron supplementation has been shown to increase free testosterone by 14.7%, DHT by 10% and decreased testosterone’s worst enemy SHBG by 9% .
And another found that a big boron dose of 10 mg taken each day over a 4-week period accelerated T levels by a modest 11.4%. That’s not bad at all for a short space of time .
And finally, boron has been shown to increase androgen levels in elite bodybuilders too – by 62% over 9 weeks. And that was with a small dose of only 2.5 mg .
Don’t be a moron. Take boron… or something like that anyway.
Optimal dose: 2.5-10 mg
Indole-3-carbinol (I3C for short) is a formed from a chemical called glucobrassicin. As the name suggests, it’s found in ‘brassica’ vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and collard greens.
And well, you know, veggies are pretty good for you.
I3C has been shown to prevent some types of cancers, respiratory illness and fibromyalgia. It’s also an important regulator of energy and metabolism too.
This important compound elevates testosterone in a different way to all of the other nutrients mentioned on this list.
Its main action is to reduce aromatization – the process of excess testosterone being converted to the female hormone, estrogen . By slowing down the amount of T that gets converted to estrogen, there’s much more bioavailable test ready to be taken up by the tissues over your body.
The result? More strength, more energy, lower body fat and more muscle mass.
When I3C breaks down during digestion it forms another chemical called diindolymethane (DIM) – another compound known to optimize hormone levels.
Optimal dose: up to 200 mg
Studies Quoted in the Article
- Mulligan, T et al. Prevalence of hypogonadism in males aged at least 45 years: the HIM study. Int J Clin Pract. 2006 Jul 1; 60(7): 762-769
- Shi, Z et al. Longitudinal changes in testosterone over five years in community-dwelling men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013; 98(8): 3289-97
- Pilz, S t al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 2011; 43(3): 223-5
- Farrokhyer, F et al. Prevalence of Vitamin D Inadequacy in Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2015; 45(3): 365-78
- Ogan, D et al. Vitamin D and the athlete: risks, recommendations, and benefits. Nutrients. 2013; 5(6): 1856-1868
- Jastrzębski, Z. Effect Of Vitamin D Supplementation On The Level Of Physical Fitness And Blood Parameters Of Rowers During The 8-Week High Intensity Training. Analele Universităţii din Oradea Facicula Educaţie Fizică şi Sport 2. 2014: 57 – 67
- D’Aniello, G et al. D-Aspartate, a Key Element for the Improvement of Sperm Quality. Adv Sexual med. 2012; 2(4)
- Topo, E et al. The role and molecular mechanism of D-aspartic acid in the release and synthesis of LH and testosterone in humans and rats. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2009; 7: 120
- Takeda, A et al. Insight into zinc signaling from dietary zinc deficiency. Brain Res Rev. 2009; 62(11): 33-44
- Kilic, M et al. The effect of exhaustion exercise on thyroid hormones and testosterone levels of elite athletes receiving oral zinc. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006; 27(1-2): 247-52
- Netter, A et al. Effect of zinc administration on plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and sperm count. Arch Androl. 1981; 7(1):69-73
- Wankhede, S et al. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recover: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015; 12: 43
- Naghii, MR et al. Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2011; 25(1): 54-8
- Naghii, MR et al. The effect of boron supplementation on its urinary excretion and selected cardiovascular risk factors in healthy male subjects. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1997
- Fernando, AA et al. The effect of boron supplementation on lean body mass, plasma testosterone levels, and strength in male bodybuilders. Int J Sports Nutr. 1993
- De Santi, M et al. Inhibition of Testosterone Aromatization by the Indole-3-carbinol Derivative CTet in CYP19A1-overexpressing MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 201; 15(7): 896-904