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.
he symptoms of aging include tiredness, lack of energy, reduced strength, frailty, loss of libido, decreased sexual performance depression and mood change.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent many lifestyle-related diseases. Interestingly, it can also boost your testosterone.
All forms of exercise may increase your testosterone levels. Weight lifting and high-intensity interval training are the most effective.
Therefore, you must pay attention to your long-term calorie intake and diet strategy.
Carb intake also plays a role, with research showing carbs can help optimize testosterone
A diet based mainly on whole foods is best, with a healthy balance of fat, protein and carbs. This can optimize both hormone levels and long-term health.
Don’t overeat and don’t restrict calories too much for too long. Try to eat balanced amounts of carbs, fat and protein.
Stress and high cortisol can also increase food intake, weight gain and the storage of harmful body fat around your organs. In turn, these changes may negatively impact your testosterone
For both optimal health and hormone levels, you should try to reduce repetitive stressful situations in your life.
Focus on a diet based on whole foods, regular exercise, good sleep, laughter and a balanced lifestyle, all of which can reduce stress and improve your health and testosterone levels (46, 47, 48, 49, 50).
High levels of stress are bad for your long-term health and can reduce your testosterone levels.
Vitamin D is quickly becoming one of the world’s most popular vitamins.
A 12-month study found that supplementing with around 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day increased testosterone levels by around 25% (54).
In the elderly, vitamin D and calcium also optimized testosterone levels, which led to a reduced risk of falling (58).
To boost testosterone and reap the other benefits of vitamin D, try to get regular exposure to sunlight or take around 3,000 IU of a vitamin D3 supplement daily.
If you’d like to try supplements, Amazon has a good selection available.
More information on vitamin D here: Vitamin D 101 — A Detailed Beginner’s Guide.
Vitamin D3 supplements may boost testosterone levels, especially in the elderly and people who have low blood levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D and zinc have the strongest evidence as testosterone boosters. Other micronutrients may also have benefits, but require further research.
It may also have major effects on your testosterone levels.
The ideal amount of sleep varies from person to person, but one study found that sleeping only 5 hours per night was linked to a 15% reduction in testosterone levels (73).
One long-term study observed that those who slept only four hours per night had borderline deficient levels (46).
Although some people seem to do fine with less sleep, research suggests around 7–10 hours of sleep per night is best for long-term health and your testosterone.
Make sure you get plenty of high-quality sleep to maintain healthy testosterone levels and optimize your long-term health.
Only a few natural testosterone boosters are supported by scientific studies.
The herb with the most research behind it is called ashwagandha.
One study tested the effects of this herb on infertile men and found a 17% increase in testosterone levels and a 167% increase in sperm count (76).
Most of the research on ginger has been done in animals. However, one study in infertile humans found that ginger can boost testosterone levels by 17% and increase levels of other key sex hormones (80, 84).
Other popular herbs that are supported by some studies in both animals and humans include horny goat weed, Mucuna pruriens, shilajit and tongkat ali.
Yet it’s important to note that most of the positive research has been conducted in mice or infertile humans with low testosterone levels.
If you have healthy testosterone function and normal levels, it is unclear whether you will benefit much from these supplements.
Several herbal supplements are a natural way to boost testosterone for those with infertility or low levels.
There are several other factors that may affect your hormone levels.
Reducing exposure to estrogen-like chemicals, alcohol and drugs can positively affect your testosterone levels and health.
From the age of 25–30, a man’s testosterone levels naturally start to decline.
This is a problem because strong research shows a link between low testosterone and obesity, increased disease risk and premature death.
Healthy testosterone levels are also important for women, along with other key hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.
Therefore, everyone should take the necessary lifestyle steps to optimize testosterone levels. You will improve your health and body at the same time.
RESOURCE LINKS • Men’s Health: https://wholehealth.wisc.edu/overviews/mens-health/ • Guide to Less Toxic Products: http://lesstoxicguide.ca/ • Passport to Whole Health: https://wholehealth.wiscweb.wisc.edu/wpcontent/uploads/sites/414/2018/09/Passport-to-Whole-Health-3rd-Edition2018.