Do you feel worn out and exhausted most of the time? A lot of people do, it's a sign of our busy times, isn't it. There are many reasons why you may often feel tired and low testosterone can be one of them.
There are a number of different treatment options for men with low levels of testosterone. In this article, I will cover several alternatives, both medical and natural and you can decide which one is best for you.
Testosterone is one of the most important hormones in the body, especially for men and is responsible for those characteristics and traits that are considered “masculine” – physical strength, dominance and body hair.
Testosterone is used to regulate sex drive and the production of sperm. It also plays an important role in muscle-building, maintaining bone mass as well as maintaining good heart and mental health.
Although a small percentage of testosterone is made in the adrenal glands, most (95%) of this androgenic hormone is produced by the testicles. As men get older, the production of testosterone tends to naturally decrease. This slow decline of testosterone production is often referred to as andropause.
If levels of testosterone drop too low, a number of health problems can develop. While gradually decreasing testosterone levels are normal, in some men they drop more quickly. Unfortunately, some men assume this is a natural part of aging, rather than an abnormally fast decrease.
What is a Low Testosterone Level?
There are three types of testosterone present in the body: free testosterone, albumin-bound testosterone and SHBG-bound testosterone.
Free testosterone is called “free” because it has no proteins attached to it. Free testosterone makes up only 2-3% of your total testosterone levels but it is very active and it can easily enter cells and activate receptors.
Albumin-bound testosterone is bound to a protein called albumin but the bond between albumin and testosterone is weak so it can be easily broken to create free testosterone.
SHBG-bound testosterone is bound to a protein called sex hormone-binding-globulin (SHBG) produced by the liver. Our bodies are not able to utilise this type of testosterone but studies demonstrate that healthy diet and lifestyle can help reduce the amount of SHBG in our body, making more free testosterone available to benefit your body and mind.
When you are tested you typically get only two results: “free” testosterone and bound testosterone (~98% of total T). The reason is that free testosterone score usually includes the actual free testosterone as well as the albumin-bound testosterone because it is bioavailable and can be easily converted to the free fraction.
Your normal testosterone range may vary, depending on the lab your blood was tested and in most men ranges from around 800-1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) to 300 ng/dL. When levels fall below 300, this can indicate a diagnosis of low testosterone. For younger men (under 40 y.o.) the level below 400 can also result in a “low testosterone” diagnosis. [cleveryoutube video=”Q-84wsXAY88″ vidstyle=”1″ pic=”” afterpic=”” width=”450″ quality=”medium” starttime=”0:02″ endtime=”2:41″ caption=”THE DOCTORS: Low testosterone in men. The shocking truth” showexpander=”off” alignment=”center” newser=””]
What Causes Testosterone Deficiency
Testosterone deficiency (also called hypogonadism) in men is a common but often misdiagnosed. Approximately 40% of men aged 45 or older have low testosterone but only less than 5% of these men are actually diagnosed and treated.
There can be a number of reasons why testosterone levels can drop, and as was mentioned before, it is normal for them to decrease slowly with aging. Other causes of low testosterone can include pituitary and/or hypothalamic problems, injured testicles, diabetes, obesity, or testicular cancer.
Is It Low T? Symptoms of Low Testosterone
One of the most common symptoms of low testosterone is a diminished sex drive. Men may have less interest in sex and may have more difficulty achieving orgasm.
Low testosterone can also make it more difficult to achieve and maintain an erection. Testosterone plays an important part in the body's production of sperm and semen so men with higher levels of testosterone tend to produce more semen. As testosterone levels drop in the body, less semen is produced and the volume of ejaculate decreases.
In addition to its role in the sex drive and the production of sperm, testosterone also helps the body produce hair. Many men naturally go bald as they age but balding is not necessarily a sign of low testosterone. However, this condition can produce a loss of hair on other parts of the body, such as the chest or the face.
Another significant symptom of low testosterone is diminished energy, grumpiness and increased fatigue. Men with lower levels of testosterone may feel tired all of the time, even after getting a good night's sleep. They may also have a hard time finding the energy needed to work out or exercise.
In addition, low testosterone makes it harder to maintain muscle mass. Not only is it harder to build new muscle, but existing muscle mass may diminish. Overall body strength tends to decrease as testosterone levels drop.
Along with this decrease in muscle mass, low testosterone can lead to increased body fat. Men suffering from this problem not only lose muscle, but they have an easier time gaining weight. There seems to be a genetic connection between testosterone levels and body fat in many men.
Bone loss can also occur in men whose testosterone levels are dropping. The hormone plays a significant role in bone formation and strengthening. As the levels diminish, men can be at greater risk for bone fractures, particularly in the feet, wrist, hips, and ribs.
Finally, testosterone can contribute to mood swings and personality disorders as the levels drop in the body. Men with higher levels of testosterone tend to be both more emotionally stable and mentally sharper. If levels drop too low, men can become more irritable and more prone to depression. They can also have a harder time staying focused and productive.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and healthy young men produce eight times as much of it as young women. Nevertheless, testosterone plays important role in women's health and both sexes require it for proper sexual and physical development. In women, testosterone is converted to estradiol, the main sex hormone in females.
All in all, testosterone is an incredibly important hormone for health, longevity, and vitality – in both men and women.
How to Boost Testosterone: The Medical Treatment Options That Help
The good news about low testosterone is that it can be easily treated. There are some good medical treatment options that are available and also you can go for more natural solutions. [cleveryoutube video=”xU6HfRH7Khw” vidstyle=”1″ pic=”” afterpic=”” width=”450″ quality=”hd720″ starttime=”0:03″ endtime=”2:41″ caption=”THE DOCTOR IS IN: Low testosterone, what to do about it?” showexpander=”off” alignment=”center” newser=””]
Before any program of treatment is begun, it is important to talk to a doctor to make sure that there are no significant health problems causing the decrease in testosterone, such as cancer or diabetes. and, if you decide to for a medical treatment it is a good idea to find a reputable low T center or clinic that specialises in men's health so you can be properly diagnosed and treated.
For younger men who may be having difficulty with fertility, a testosterone injection may be the best choice. These injections are given every few weeks and help to both produce more sperm and make the sperm more motile. However, since these injections are not given on a daily basis, they can cause levels of testosterone to fluctuate more significantly. They can also be costly.
For many men, the best choice to treat low testosterone may be a gel or patch applied on a daily basis. Since these treatments are used every day, they can help to regulate the levels of testosterone in the body, keeping them at a constant level and reducing the symptoms to a minimum. However, for men who choose to use a gel, it is important that they wash their hands thoroughly after applying the gel, and avoid skin-to-skin contact with women or children for several hours after using the gel.
While uncommon, it is possible for testosterone left on the hands to be absorbed into the other person's body. This can cause unpleasant side effects in women, such as excessive hair growth. In children, testosterone can potentially trigger early puberty.
Testosterone can also be taken orally in the form of a pill or capsule. Like a gel or patch, these can be taken on a daily basis. Because they are taken orally, there is less risk that anyone else can become exposed to testosterone this way.
A final option for treating low testosterone is the use of implantable pellets. These pellets are implanted beneath the skin of the buttocks, where they slowly release testosterone over the course of several months. However new pellets need to be put in place every few months, which can be inconvenient.
Possible side effects of testosterone therapy include a higher red blood cell count, which can cause thickening of the blood. Other potential problems include acne, sleep apnea, and enlargement of the breasts. There is also some potential for an elevated risk of prostate cancer due to testosterone therapy, though little evidence has been found to support such a connection.
How to Increase Testosterone Naturally
Although some studies linked low testosterone to heart problems, recent research indicates that increasing testosterone too much (through prescription testosterone) poses risks and can lead to a shorter lifespan. In addition, a 2005 study concluded that higher levels of testosterone are associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Therefore boosting it naturally may be something that you might prefer. [cleveryoutube video=”qnzv_u66dpU” vidstyle=”1″ pic=”” afterpic=”” width=”450″ quality=”hd720″ starttime=”0:03″ endtime=”2:41″ caption=”Testosterone treatments linked to risks” showexpander=”off” alignment=”center” newser=””]
There are many ways of increasing the testosterone levels naturally. Testosterone can be boosted through diet, nutritional supplementation and good life choices. Some of these methods are discussed below.
Increase Testosterone Through Diet
Research confirms that many healthy foods can boost testosterone.
- Lose excess weight – There are several studies that were conducted on the connection between excess weight and testosterone. These studies confirm that the more body fat you carry, the lower your testosterone levels are going to be. Did you know that weight loss can reduce the prevalence of low testosterone levels in middle-aged, overweight men by more than 50 percent? This study was done at the St. Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin by Professor Frances Hayes, MD and demonstrated that low testosterone levels are common in overweight men with prediabetes, but with lifestyle modification, the prevalence of low testosterone levels can be substantially reduced.
- Eating lots of vegetables – Did you know that cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower would boost your testosterone levels naturally? These vegetables contain indoles which are said to remove bad estrogens from our body. Read the study that demonstrated that indoles are extremely beneficial to one's health. Vegetables are also important to promote alkalinity and keep inflammation down in our bodies. This is important to promote a lean body and overall health, which in turn would support the increase of testosterone naturally.
When the body breaks down indole-3-carbinol, a natural substance called diindolylmethane (DIM) is produced. Some preliminary research suggests that it may offer certain health benefits. Diindolylmethane produces changes in estrogen metabolism, a biological process that influences the development of certain hormone-dependent cancers. Although DIM products are available in health stores, it is important to remember that research on the health effects of diindolylmethane is limited.
- Cut down on sugar to boost testosterone – In a recent study that involved 40 men with normal blood sugar levels, 20 men with “pre-diabetic” blood sugar levels and 10 men with type-2 diabetes, all of these men were given a solution of sugar to drink, and thereafter had their testosterone levels checked. Regardless whether they had diabetes or not, their testosterone levels in the blood dropped by at least 25% and remained low even after 2 hours of the test.
More than 15% of the tested 70 men experienced further drops in their testosterone levels where it could be classified as hypogondalism or testosterone levels low enough that would require taking the hormone. The likely cause of this decrease in testosterone levels because of excess sugar intake is that sugar leads to higher insulin levels in the body.
- Cutting down on processed carbs – Immediately after a high carbohydrate diet, your testosterone levels will drop significantly. While this drop will be temporary, if you eat 3 or 4 carb dominant meals per day, it could lead to a permanent drop in testosterone hormone in your body. You must drastically limit your intake of starchy or processed carbohydrates in order to prevent this situation. Limiting these type of carbs to one meal a day will help in maintaining healthy testosterone levels in your body. Refer to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22804876 for research on the subject.
- Increase Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) intake from foods like whey protein-ResearchsuggeststhatBCAA's are helpful in boosting your body's testosterone levels naturally. This is particularly important when coupled with resistance training.BCAA's are also available in supplement form, but they are naturally found in leucine in dairy products which include quality cheese and whey protein. Leucine is an essential amino acid that stimulates protein synthesis to build muscle. Food-based leucine is the ideal form that can benefit your muscles without any side effects and good whey protein powder is an excellent source.
- Drinking coffee and tea – You may be surprised to know that drinking coffee or tea could actually boost the body's levels of testosterone. Caffeine during exercise has a surprising effect on boosting testosterone levels. Professional weightlifters were given caffeine supplements in doses ranging from 200 to 800 mg, an hour before lifting weights. The results were published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in 2008. It revealed that power training without caffeine caused a rise in testosterone levels by 15%, whereas power training with an 800 mg dose of caffeine led to a 22% increase in testosterone levels in the blood.
- Eat more beans and nuts – They're rich in D-aspartic acid, which promotes the production of testosterone. Try adding more almonds, soybeans, lentils to your diet.
- Add some garlic – Animal studies indicate that garlic increases testicular testosterone.
- Eating healthy fats – Healthy fat means not only mono and polyunsaturated fats which are found in nuts and avocado, but also saturated fats are essential in boosting testosterone levels in the blood. Scientific research shows that a diet with less than 35% of saturated fat (from animal sources) leads to a decrease in testosterone levels. Your body requires healthy saturated fats from both animal and vegetable sources for optimum functioning.
Did you know that a reduction in the consumption of dietary fats decreases testosterone production? Taking healthy saturated fats from animal and plant sources such as meat, dairy products and plant oils are essential in boosting the body's testosterone levels. Watch out for an excess of omega-6 vegetable oils, including soy, canola, safflower and corn though, as they can have a pro-inflammatory effect. Include coconut oil in your daily diet as it is a particularly healthy plant source of saturated fats.
Boost Testosterone Through Exercise
- Strength training – Performing intense strength training exercises is another natural method of boosting the testosterone levels in the body. Strength training to boost testosterone would be highly effective when you lower the number of reps and increase the weight. You should focus on exercises that work a large number of muscles such as squats and deadlifts.
Strength training exercises that are associated with larger muscle groups are found to increase testosterone levels in the body. Scientific studies confirmed the effectiveness of strength training.
- HIIT training to boost testosterone levels – Higher intensity exercises such as interval sprints, cardio finishers and strongman training are found to boost the testosterone levels in the body. High-intensity interval training a.k.a. HIIT is found to be highly beneficial in boosting the body's testosterone levels.
A new study conducted by Anthony Hackney and his colleagues from the University of North Carolina found that HIIT resulted in a greater turn-over rate of free testosterone. More information on scientific research on the subject could be found here.
- Intermittent fasting – Intermittent fasting coupled with short intense exercises are said to boost the testosterone levels in the body naturally. Intermittent fasting boosts testosterone by increasing the expression of satiety hormones such as leptin, insulin, adiponectin and melanocortins. All of these hormones are known to potentiate healthy testosterone actions, increase libido and prevent age-related testosterone decline
Supplements Increase Low Testosterone: Nature's Boosters You Can Trust
- Zinc – Although testosterone is a hormone that is produced primarily by your testicles, it is also found in women as well. As a result of this, by taking zinc on a regular basis, you can improve the amount of testosterone in your body regardless of your gender. By the age of 30, testosterone begins to diminish within males, prompting men to find a way to either boost the amount that is created naturally or find a way to replace what is now missing. This is usually motivated by changes in their ability to concentrate, experiencing high levels of depression, or an inability to perform sexually.
Zinc has been used for many years as a way to boost testosterone production, sometimes helping men to return to normal levels in six weeks or less. Although a diet rich in zinc can help with this problem, it is usually best to take supplements that can provide proper amounts of this essential mineral. A study from the Wayne State University School of Medicine found that six months of zinc supplementation in marginally zinc-deficient elderly men resulted in an increase in testosterone levels.
- Vitamin D – A very important vitamin that should be consumed on a regular basis to improve testosterone production is vitamin D. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D in your blood is reflective of low testosterone levels within your body. A 2011 study indicated that supplementing with vitamin D (about 3,300 IU a day) increased testosterone significantly. Vitamin D can be produced naturally through sunlight, but studies have recently demonstrated that serum vitamin D levels are frequently low. By taking a maximum dosage of 5000 IU of vitamin D every day, testosterone levels can be increased dramatically.
- Omega-3 fish oil – Maintaining a healthy diet can help you get many of the nutrients and vitamins that you need in order to sustain proper testosterone levels. However, as we age, we need to have certain supplements to maintain the right levels of testosterone within our body. Fish oil is something that is essential to the production of testosterone. However, you can only eat so much fish every day. Therefore supplements of omega-3 fish oil have been recommended by physicians and health experts for years as a way to increase testosterone levels within your body.
It is also able to lower SHBG or sex hormone-binding globulin and increase the Luteinizing hormone, the hormone that is responsible for triggering the testes for the production of testosterone. Taking a dosage of between 1000 mg and 1500 mg every day should help to improve testosterone levels in just a few weeks.
- Vitamin C – Although vitamin C is typically associated with improving your immune system, it is also known that proper amounts of this vitamin can help boost your testosterone levels. Vitamin C is also used to help people that are experiencing inordinate amounts of stress during the day. Therefore, if you are having an extremely stressful time in your life, you might want to increase the amount of vitamin C that you take over the levels that are typically recommended.
By taking 1000 mg to 1500 mg of vitamin C every day, you can lower your cortisol levels, typically caused by stress, which will help you to produce more testosterone throughout the day. It will also lower the amounts of aromatase enzyme within your body, the enzyme which is responsible for converting testosterone into estrogen.
- DHEA – DHEA or Dehydroepiandrosterone is a steroidal hormone that the adrenal glands produce naturally in the body. It is converted into male and female sex hormones, thus producing testosterone and estrogen, respectively. As a man begins to experience lesser amounts of testosterone in the body, so also will he produce less DHEA. You can purchase DHEA as a supplement that you can take which will effectively help increase your testosterone levels after it is converted. By taking up to 400 mg of this supplement, you can usually improve your testosterone levels shortly after adding this supplement to your daily supplement regimen.
- Magnesium – Another supplement that is great for increasing testosterone levels includes increasing the dosage of magnesium that you take on a daily basis. If you do not have a diet that is rich in nuts, dark leafy greens and whole grains, taking magnesium supplements will help increase testosterone levels in your body. It can also help you build muscle, which is why many bodybuilders take this supplement regularly.
750 mg of magnesium taken every day can actually increase your testosterone levels in less than a month's time. When used in conjunction with vitamin D, it can help improve these levels even more. A 2011 study determined that that supplementation with magnesium increases free and total testosterone values both in sedentary men and in athletes.
- Vitamin B6 – Whether you are trying to increase muscle mass, improve your energy levels, or increase the amount of testosterone in your body, vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is very beneficial for helping in all of these areas. 50 mg of B6 taken every day will not only help increase your testosterone levels but help with other conditions that you may be suffering from including diabetes, cognitive issues, carpal tunnel syndrome and also heart disease. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-b6/dosing/hrb-20058788
- D-aspartic acid – DAA is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the neuroendocrine system of humans and other animals. Unfortunately, although one study determined that taking 3 grams every morning could increase testosterone by 42%, the most recent trial found that it has absolutely no effect on testosterone or muscle strength so don't waste money on any supplements containing DAA.
- ZMA – ZMA is a combination of zinc monomethionine aspartate, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6. Zinc and magnesium play a role in over 500 metabolic reactions in the body while vitamin B6 is very important for muscle protein synthesis. Supported by two studies, the data on this product shows total and free testosterone increases of up to 33% in athletes taking ZMA. There were also corresponding increases in strength and power measurements.
Another study showed magnesium alone at 10 mg per kg of body weight had significant effects on free testosterone, with or without exercise. Although ZMA appears to be effective, keep in mind that multivitamins contain these ingredients (and more) so it is a lot better to supplement with a high quality multivitamin for total body protection, rather than taking just three nutrients.
Other Lifestyle Factors That Can Improve Your Testosterone Level
- Reduce Stress – It is commonly known that stress can be a very debilitating factor in a variety of ways. It can create physical manifestations of disease which include heart disease, nervous disorders, and can even diminish our immune system's ability to protect us from a disease. It also can diminish the amount of testosterone that our body produces because stress induces the production of cortisol.
Chronic stress has been shown to reduce testosterone levels in males significantly, thus prompting the need for reducing stress in your life. If you can find a way to reduce the amount of stress that you currently experience, you will see a noticeable increase in your testosterone levels shortly thereafter.
- Get enough sleep – It is well known that lack of sleep disrupts your total hormonal balance so make sure you get enough rest. Your body will thank you for it.
- Don't drink too much alcohol – Although there are mixed reviews in regard to whether or not excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages can decrease testosterone levels, many studies have shown that by eliminating alcoholic beverages from your everyday diet, or at least reducing them dramatically, it can help with improving the amount of testosterone that is produced within your body.
- Reduce Your Exposure To Environmental Estrogens – Finally, you should also try to limit your exposure to environmental estrogens if at all possible. This type of estrogen is not produced by our endocrine system, and are usually found in chemical compounds found in our environment.
Environmental estrogens may be found in the water that we drink in plastic bottles, skin care products that contain parabens, the food colouring that we consume, and the preservatives that are used in most foods today. By having a more natural diet, and avoiding processed foods and beverages, you can limit the amount of exposure that you have to environmental estrogens which will help to increase your testosterone levels.
Although there are many other all-natural ways to increase your testosterone levels, by having a good diet, taking the supplements recommended in this article, following an appropriate exercise regimen and also trying to reduce the amount of stress and exposure to environmental estrogens in your everyday life, you should be able to successfully increase the testosterone levels that you currently have, hopefully moving them up to levels that you have not seen since your teenage years.
Really helpful post, is there a need of testosterone in women?
Hi Barbara this is a very informative post. I found myself many times during the read going Yep Yep Yep. I think I am going to investigate your ideas more. Well done
Hi Barbara, what’s the best ZMA product that you recommend? Or multi-vitamin product? I’d love to hear your recommendations. I’ve tried the ICON Nutrition ZMA and it works well. And usually pick up a multi-vitamin from the supermarket. But if you can recommend better ones I’m all ears… Thanks. Kevin. P.s. Great article, very in-depth!