Testosterone levels naturally decline as you age. While testosterone therapy can be an option, it has disadvantages as well. Some older men on testosterone therapy could face increased cardiac risks. You may be interested in natural testosterone boosters instead. Many over-the-counter (OTC) products make claims, but there is limited research to back them up.
Before you buy a testosterone booster, learn about the role of testosterone and the risks and benefits of testosterone treatments.
The Role of Testosterone in Men
Testosterone is the major sex hormone in men. It affects bodily functions including:
- Sperm production
- Sex drive
- Muscle strength and size
- Deepening voice during puberty
- Bone growth and strength
- Growth of facial, body, and pubic hair in puberty
- Development of the penis and testes
- May play a role in hair loss later in life
Testosterone may play other important roles that we don't know about yet. Your ideal level of testosterone is difficult to calculate. Levels can vary over time and even over a single day.
Testosterone declines with age, but it is a slow decline. Testosterone decreases 1% to 2% per year. More than 33% of men over 45 may have lower than normal testosterone levels. Symptoms of low testosterone may include:
Can Supplements Boost Testosterone?
Several different types of supplements claim to increase your testosterone levels. The results are mixed. Some of these supplements include:
D-Aspartic Acid. D-Aspartic Acid is a natural amino acid. A recent study found that it may increase levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. Both of these may stimulate the body to release more testosterone.
However, a subsequent study showed that taking 3 grams of D-aspartic acid did not affect testosterone levels. Taking 6 grams actually reduced levels.
Zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral for your healthy body function. Zinc deficiency has been linked to low testosterone levels. Zinc may promote testosterone production in the testes. Long-term zinc supplementation may lead to increased testosterone levels.
Magnesium. Taking magnesium as a supplement has been shown to increase free and total testosterone values. This may work for both sedentary people and athletes. Keep in mind that people who exercise had higher testosterone increases.
Vitamin D. Your body naturally produces Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. However, people who don't have much exposure to sunlight may be deficient in vitamin D. In a year-long study, 65 men who took 3300 IU of vitamin D daily increased their testosterone levels by 20% over those who didn't.
Other Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone
Supplements aren't the only way to boost your testosterone levels naturally. Several lifestyle interventions may boost your testosterone and better your overall health, including:
Exercise. Exercise can increase your testosterone. The best types of exercise to increase your testosterone levels are weightlifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Lifting heavy weights is the best exercise to increase testosterone levels.
Building muscle mass triggers the body to produce testosterone. By contrast, endurance exercises like cycling for hours or running marathons can actually reduce your testosterone level.
Maintain a healthy weight. If you are obese, you are four times more likely to benefit from testosterone replacement than non-obese men. Obesity is directly linked to low testosterone levels. Aging 10 years increases your odds of having low testosterone by 36%, but a 4-inch increase in waist size may increase your chances by up to 75%.
Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for your good health. A consistent lack of good-quality sleep can interfere with your natural testosterone production. It can also lead to weight gain. This can further reduce your testosterone production.
Reduce stress. Stress causes your levels of cortisol to rise. Cortisol is a hormone that works against your testosterone. When your cortisol rises, your testosterone falls. Increased cortisol levels can also cause you to overeat. This can increase your weight and further reduce your testosterone.
Clearly, stress can reduce your testosterone level in several ways. Find positive ways to manage stress, and you may naturally increase your testosterone.