It seems that adequate testosterone levels are an important influence on sexual symptoms in the aging male and also influence the response of men to PDE-5 inhibitors, the first line treatment for erectile dysfunction in men. Many would now suggest screening for testosterone deficiency in all men presenting with erectile dysfunction (Gore and Rajfer 2004; Shabsigh 2005). This would seem appropriate because, in addition to benefits on sexual function, identification and treatment of hypogonadal men with testosterone could improve other symptoms of hypogonadism and protect against other conditions such as osteoporosis.
ZMA (unnecessary). So when I researched how to increase testosterone, a supplement called ZMA kept popping up. It’s a blend of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6. The purported benefits of ZMA include better and deeper sleep which indirectly is supposed to increase testosterone. Zinc and magnesium are necessary minerals in testosterone production, so a mega-dose should be useful, right? Well, no. I bought some and took it during the duration of experiment. I should have done some more research before I made the purchase. While one study in 1998 showed increased strength among athletes taking ZMA, two recent studies (study 1, study 2) have shown that it has absolutely no effect on total or free testosterone levels. Crap. My advice, unless you have a zinc and magnesium deficiency, no need to waste your money on this.
Among my favorite stress management tools is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a method similar to acupuncture but without the use of needles. EFT is known to eliminate negative behavior and instill a positive mentality. Always bear in mind that your emotional health is strongly linked to your physical health, and you have to pay attention to your negative feelings as much as you do to the foods you eat.
A 2010 study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior first suggested this when researchers evaluated the “dual-hormone hypothesis” clinically. (11) They discovered that when cortisol is elevated, testosterone responds by elevating as well but soon after bottoms out at a much lower level than before cortisol kicked in! That means you want to find ways to relieve stress to keep your testosterone levels up.
Zinc is so important relating to hormone balance and many other functions (fertility, immunity, and insulin sensitivity to name just a few), as well as dopamine production—which helps support mood, drive, and interest. Many men, especially over the age of 60, have low zinc levels. A great start is to eat more foods containing zinc like oysters, fermented foods, and proteins (preferably grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon). I often recommend 50 to 60 mg daily if taking as a supplement.
Have you ever wondered why? When we are under stress, our body produces cortisol that is bad for our testosterone levels. This particular component blocks the production of testosterone. In addition, if there is a lack of Z’s then this is the bad news for your testosterone. You should know that the huge amounts of testosterone are produced during our sleep. Every guy knows that the “morning wood” comes only after a good night sleep.
Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 actually isn’t a vitamin, it’s a hormone — a really important hormone that provides a whole host of health benefits. Our bodies can naturally make vitamin D from the sun, but recent studies have shown that many Westerners are vitamin D3 deprived because we’re spending less and less time outdoors. When we do decide to venture outside, we slather our bodies with sunscreen, which prevents the sun reaching our skin to kick-off vitamin D3 production. If you’re not getting enough sun, you may have a vitamin D3 deficiency, which may contribute to low T levels. If you think you need more vitamin D3, supplement it with a pill. Studies have shown that men who take this supplement see a boost in their testosterone levels. Because I have a darker complexion — which makes me prone to Vitamin D3 deficiency — I took 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 in the morning.
A: According to the NIH, normal values for testosterone levels in men can range from 300 to 1,200ng/dL. There can be many different causes of low testosterone including age, diseases, accidents, and medications. Symptoms of low testosterone may include: loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, and difficulty concentrating. Low testosterone levels may also bring around body changes including: hair loss, decrease in blood cells possibly leading to anemia, fragile bones, and a decrease in muscle mass. There are different testosterone replacement therapies including patches, such as Androderm; gels, such as Androgel and Testim; and injections, such as testosterone cypionate. Only your health care provider can decide if and what kind of testosterone replacement therapy is appropriate for you. Testosterone replacement therapy is not right for everyone. Patient with certain prostate issues or breast cancer should not take testosterone. For more specific information, consult with your doctor for guidance based on your health status and current medications, particularly before taking any action. Kristen Dore, PharmD
Testosterone has several positive effects on sexual function, but its most significant effect is on libido, sexual interest and arousal. Boys going through puberty develop an enhanced interest in sex (thoughts, fantasies, masturbation, intercourse) as a consequence of rising levels of testosterone. Hypogonadal men usually have a significant improvement in libido when TRT is initiated (Wang et al 2000; Morley and Perry 2003).
Mínguez-Alarcón, L., Chavarro, J. E., Mendiola, J., Roca, M., Tanrikut, C., Vioque, J., ... Torres-Cantero, A. M. (2017, March–April). Fatty acid intake in relation to reproductive hormones and testicular volume among young healthy men [Abstract]. Asian Journal of Andrology, 19(2), 184–190. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27834316
Another effect that can limit treatment is polycythemia, which occurs due to various stimulatory effects of testosterone on erythropoiesis (Zitzmann and Nieschlag 2004). Polycythemia is known to produce increased rates of cerebral ischemia and there have been reports of stroke during testosterone induced polycythaemia (Krauss et al 1991). It is necessary to monitor hematocrit during testosterone treatment, and hematocrit greater than 50% should prompt either a reduction of dose if testosterone levels are high or high-normal, or cessation of treatment if levels are low-normal. On the other hand, late onset hypogonadism frequently results in anemia which will then normalize during physiological testosterone replacement.
If you do take DAA I recommend cycling it (i.e. 5 days on, 2 off, over 4 weeks then 4 weeks off). And taking it with an aromatase inhibitor (which ensures the aspartic acid doesn’t get converted to estrogen). Especially as more studies are coming out showing the increase in testosterone is limited to a week or two before it drops back to normal levels.
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.