When we face stress, our adrenal glands secrete cortisol to prepare our bodies and minds to handle the stressful situation — the primal fight-or-flight response. In small dosages, cortisol is fine and even useful, but elevated cortisol levels for prolonged periods can do some serious damage to our bodies and minds. One area that seems to take a hit when cortisol is high is our testosterone levels. Several studies have shown a link between cortisol and testosterone. When cortisol levels are high, testosterone levels are low; and when testosterone levels are high, cortisol levels are low.
It is important not to use any DHEA product without the supervision of a professional. Find a qualified health care provider who will monitor your hormone levels and determine if you require supplementation. Rather than using an oral hormone supplementation, I recommend trans-mucosal (vagina or rectum) application. Skin application may not be wise, as it makes it difficult to measure the dosage you receive. This may cause you to end up receiving more than what your body requires.
Male hypogonadism becomes more common with increasing age and is currently an under-treated condition. The diagnosis of hypogonadism in the aging male requires a combination of symptoms and low serum testosterone levels. The currently available testosterone preparations can produce consistent physiological testosterone levels and provide for patient preference.
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A notable study out of Wayne State University in Indiana found that older men who had a mild zinc deficiency significantly increased their testosterone from 8.3 to 16.0 nmol/L—a 93 percent increase—following six months of zinc supplementation. Researchers of the study concluded that zinc may play an important role in modulating serum testosterone levels in normal healthy men.6
That said, magnesium is one of a few ingredients demonstrated to impact testosterone levels. Researchers at Italy’s University of Palermo found that magnesium improved participants’ anabolic hormone status — including their testosterone levels. In a follow-up study, they confirm that even adjusting for age differences in their participant group, “magnesium was positively associated with total testosterone.” They propose that magnesium supplementation might help improve muscle performance in aging men — a group particularly vulnerable to declining/low testosterone levels. Outside of Italy, researchers at Turkey’s Selçuk University found that magnesium supplementation increased testosterone levels for both athletes and more sedentary men alike.
Androgens may modulate the physiology of vaginal tissue and contribute to female genital sexual arousal. Women's level of testosterone is higher when measured pre-intercourse vs pre-cuddling, as well as post-intercourse vs post-cuddling. There is a time lag effect when testosterone is administered, on genital arousal in women. In addition, a continuous increase in vaginal sexual arousal may result in higher genital sensations and sexual appetitive behaviors.
Don't avoid natural fats. Many people think that all fat is bad and should be avoided, particularly by teenagers who are overweight. However, natural fats and cholesterol from animal products (meat, eggs, dairy) are essential nutrients, especially for the production of sex-related hormones such as testosterone. Eating moderate amounts of saturated and unsaturated fats does not typically trigger weight gain — too many refined carbohydrates and artificial trans fat are the real culprits of obesity. In fact, some studies show that low-fat diets reduce testosterone levels in males, as well as create other growth and development problems. Research indicates that a diet with less than 40% of the energy derived from fat leads to decreased testosterone levels.
If you're a man who's experiencing symptoms such as decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, and difficulties with concentration and memory, and you think low testosterone may be to blame, you can have your levels tested. Since testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day, you'll probably need more than a blood test to get a true picture of your levels.
Instead of turning to some drug that can only ameliorate symptoms and cause additional complications, I recommend using a natural saw palmetto supplement. Dr. Moerck says that there are about 100 clinical studies on the benefits of saw palmetto, one of them being a contributed to decreased prostate cancer risk. When choosing a saw palmetto supplement, you should be wary of the brand, as there are those that use an inactive form of the plant.
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.
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The natural production of DHEA is also age-dependent. Prior to puberty, the body produces very little DHEA. Production of this prohormone peaks during your late 20’s or early 30’s. With age, DHEA production begins to decline. The adrenal glands also manufacture the stress hormone cortisol, which is in direct competition with DHEA for production because they use the same hormonal substrate known as pregnenolone. Chronic stress basically causes excessive cortisol levels and impairs DHEA production, which is why stress is another factor for low testosterone levels.
The confusion is understandable, as one in-vitro study noted that high doses of zinc blocked the enzyme 5-a reductase inside test-tubes. But the studies that don’t see much daylight actually show that oral zinc supplementation on actual living, breathing, humans is able to significantly boost the production of dihydrotestosterone, and it does so even when there’s no deficiency in the mineral.
There have been case reports of development of prostate cancer in patients during treatment with testosterone, including one case series of twenty patients (Gaylis et al 2005). It is not known whether this reflects an increase in incidence, as prostate cancer is very common and because the monitoring for cancer in patients treated with testosterone is greater. Randomized controlled trials of testosterone treatment have found a low incidence of prostate cancer and they do not provide evidence of a link between testosterone treatment and the development of prostate cancer (Rhoden and Morgentaler 2004). More large scale clinical trials of longer durations of testosterone replacement are required to confirm that testosterone treatment does not cause prostate cancer. Overall, it is not known whether testosterone treatment of aging males with hypogonadism increases the risk of prostate cancer, but monitoring for the condition is clearly vital. This should take the form of PSA blood test and rectal examination every three months for the first year of treatment and yearly thereafter (Nieschlag et al 2005). Age adjusted PSA reference ranges should be used to identify men who require further assessment. The concept of PSA velocity is also important and refers to the rate of increase in PSA per year. Patients with abnormal rectal examination suggestive of prostate cancer, PSA above the age specific reference range or a PSA velocity greater than 0.75 ng/ml/yr should be referred to a urologist for consideration of prostate biopsy.
Michael T. Murray, ND, is widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on natural medicine. He is the author of many books, including the classic Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. His latest book is What the Drug Companies Won’t Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn’t Know. Visit him online at doctormurray.com. Article Courtesy of Better Nutrition
Many studies demonstrate an improvement in mood of hypogonadal men treated with testosterone (Wang et al 1996; Azad et al 2003). The relationship between testosterone status and mood, particularly depression, remains unresolved. Using Beck’s Depression Inventory, Barrett-Connor and colleagues found that the depression score worsened as men aged, exactly at a time when testosterone levels are decreasing (Barrett-Connor et al 1999). Pope and colleagues found that testosterone treatment in men with refractory depression lowered the Hamilton Depression rating scale and the Clinical Global Impression severity rating (Pope et al 2003). The Beck Depression Inventory remained unchanged in Pope’s study.
Changes in body composition are seen with aging. In general terms, aging males are prone to loss of muscle mass and a gain in fat mass, especially in the form of visceral or central fat. An epidemiological study of community dwelling men aged between 24 and 85 years has confirmed that total and free testosterone levels are inversely correlated with waist circumference and that testosterone levels are specifically related to this measure of central obesity rather than general obesity (Svartberg, von Muhlen, Sundsfjord et al 2004). Prospective studies show that testosterone levels predict future development of central obesity (Khaw and Barrett-Connor 1992; Tsai et al 2000). Reductions in free testosterone also correlate with age related declines in fat free mass (muscle mass) and muscle strength (Baumgartner et al 1999; Roy et al 2002). Studies in hypogonadal men confirm an increase in fat mass and decrease in fat free mass versus comparable eugonadal men (Katznelson et al 1998). Taken together, the epidemiological data suggest that a hypogonadal state promotes loss of muscle mass and a gain in fat mass, particularly visceral fat and therefore mimics the changes of ‘normal’ aging.
The amount of testosterone synthesized is regulated by the hypothalamic–pituitary–testicular axis (see figure to the right). When testosterone levels are low, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is released by the hypothalamus, which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to release FSH and LH. These latter two hormones stimulate the testis to synthesize testosterone. Finally, increasing levels of testosterone through a negative feedback loop act on the hypothalamus and pituitary to inhibit the release of GnRH and FSH/LH, respectively.
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
However, testosterone is only one of many factors that aid in adequate erections. Research is inconclusive regarding the role of testosterone replacement in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. In a review of studies that looked at the benefit of testosterone in men with erection difficulties, showed no improvement with testosterone treatment. Many times, other health problems play a role in erectile difficulties. These can include:
Magnesium comes with a strict upper cap. Excess magnesium is hard on your kidneys, and can lead to kidney failure. The NIH recommends that men consume 400-420 mg of magnesium daily, but that they should not exceed 350 mg of supplemental magnesium per day. Because while it’s rare for people to chronically overdose on magnesium through diet (you’d have to eat a lot of almonds and spinach, for example), overdose by supplement is far more common.
The second theory is similar and is known as "evolutionary neuroandrogenic (ENA) theory of male aggression". Testosterone and other androgens have evolved to masculinize a brain in order to be competitive even to the point of risking harm to the person and others. By doing so, individuals with masculinized brains as a result of pre-natal and adult life testosterone and androgens enhance their resource acquiring abilities in order to survive, attract and copulate with mates as much as possible. The masculinization of the brain is not just mediated by testosterone levels at the adult stage, but also testosterone exposure in the womb as a fetus. Higher pre-natal testosterone indicated by a low digit ratio as well as adult testosterone levels increased risk of fouls or aggression among male players in a soccer game. Studies have also found higher pre-natal testosterone or lower digit ratio to be correlated with higher aggression in males.
As blood levels of testosterone increase, this feeds back to suppress the production of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus which, in turn, suppresses production of luteinising hormone by the pituitary gland. Levels of testosterone begin to fall as a result, so negative feedback decreases and the hypothalamus resumes secretion of gonadotrophin-releasing hormone.