How do you increase testosterone levels?

how do you increase testosterone levels?

How can you increase testosterone naturally?

When it comes to increasing your testosterone, quality sleep, physical activity, and weight management come first. A few supplements can help sustain healthy testosterone levels, but most supplements marketed as testosterone boosters don’t work, though some can make you believe they do by boosting your libido.

Testosterone is an androgen, a male sex hormone, though females need it too. In males, low testosterone has been associated with low libido [1] and poor health outcomes, such as the development of metabolic syndrome. [2] In males and females, low testosterone has been associated with depression. [3] [4]

Middle-aged [5] and older [6] males see their testosterone levels decrease by 0.4% to 1.6% per year, and many are the males who experience lower-than-average levels even in their 30s. [7] Fortunately, quality sleep, physical activity, weight management, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D can all help sustain healthy testosterone levels.

Lifestyle

To optimize your testosterone levels, you don’t only need the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals; you also need to sleep well, exercise, and keep a healthy weight.

1. Sleep

Lack of sleep causes numerous health issues. Notably, it decreases testosterone production [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] and facilitates fat gain [13] (and we’ll see that fat gain itself can impair testosterone production). Getting enough quality sleep is so important that we will be publishing an article on that soon.

2. Physical activity

Resistance training can raise testosterone levels for 15–30 minutes post-exercise. [14] [15] More importantly, it can benefit testosterone production in the long run by improving body composition and reducing insulin resistance. [14]

Overtraining, however, is counterproductive. Prolonged endurance exercise especially can cause your testosterone to drop. [16] [17] Ensuring adequate recovery time will help you receive the full benefits of physical activity.

3. Weight management

Weight gain and the associated chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, [18] [19] [20] are strongly linked to decreases in testosterone, particularly in middle-aged and older men.

If you gain weight (as fat), your testosterone production drops. Fortunately, if you lose weight, your testosterone production can climb back up.

Adapted from Grossmann and Matsumoto. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017. [21]

As this figure shows, observational studies have seen consistent results: in people who are overweight or obese, the greater the weight loss, the greater the testosterone increase. [18]

These results have been echoed in clinical trials. A meta-analysis of 24 RCTs looked at weight loss caused by diet or bariatric surgery: [22] In the diet studies, the average 9.8% weight loss was linked to a testosterone increase of 2.9 nmol/L (84 ng/dL). In the bariatric-surgery studies, the average 32% weight loss was linked to a testosterone increase of 8.7 nmol/L (251 ng/dL).

You need not lose huge amounts of weight to see a bump in testosterone levels, either: a 5% loss in weight can increase total testosterone by 2 nmol/L (58 ng/dL). [23]

Quality sleep, physical activity, and weight management support healthy testosterone levels, and they’re synergistic: If you lack sleep, you find it harder to exercise and easier to gain fat. If you exercise, you find it easier to sleep and to keep a healthy weight. If your weight is healthy, you find it easier to exercise and easier to sleep.

If you want to know more about the lifestyle-testosterone connection, check out our infographic and article here.

Looking for straightforward information on what works?

Our guide gives you step-by-step directions to help you save time, money, and frustration.

Based on science, we cut through the misinformation and hype to give you exact recommendations on what to take and the exact dosages.

Supplements

Only a few supplements have been shown to benefit testosterone production. Among those, the evidence mostly supports vitamin D and zinc , followed by magnesium . Two caveats should be kept in mind, however:

  • Supplementing with a vitamin or mineral is likely to help you only if you suffer from a deficiency or an insufficiency in this vitamin or mineral.
  • Correcting a deficiency or an insufficiency is more likely to raise your testosterone levels if they are low.

1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps regulate testosterone levels. [24] [25] Ideally, you would produce all the vitamin D you need through sunlight exposure, but if you live far from the equator, have dark skin, or simply spend most of your time inside, you may need to complement your own production with the help of foods or supplements.

Serum 25(OH)D concentrations

In Canada and the United States, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D falls between 400 and 800 IU (International Units). [26] These amounts, which have been criticized as too low by some, [27] [28] are attainable from only a few food sources, which is why vitamin D has become a popular supplement.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDAs) for vitamin D (IU*)

* 40 IU = 1 mcg | ** Adequate intake (AI)
Reference: Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Adequacy: Calcium and Vitamin D (chapter 5 in Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. The National Academies Press. 2011. DOI: 10.17226/13050)

2. Zinc

Zinc deficiency can hinder testosterone production. [29] [30] Like magnesium, zinc is lost through sweat, [31] so athletes and other people who sweat a lot are more likely to be deficient. Although dietary zinc is mostly found in animal products, zinc-rich foods include some grains and nuts.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc (mg)

* Adequate Intake (AI) Reference: Institute of Medicine. Zinc (chapter 12 in Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. The National Academies Press. 2001. DOI: 10.17226/10026)

Consuming much more than your RDA [32] can be harmful. In the short term, high doses can cause nausea [33] and vomiting. [34] In the long term, they can lead to a copper deficiency. [35] [36]

3. Magnesium

In males with low magnesium levels and low testosterone levels, an increase in magnesium intake can translate into an increase in testosterone production, [37] both directly and (since one of magnesium’s functions in your body is to help convert vitamin D into its active form [38] ) indirectly.

While more common in the older population, [39] magnesium deficiency isn’t unknown in younger people (notably athletes, [40] since, link zinc, magnesium is lost through sweat [31] [41] [42] ). Yet getting your RDA should be easy: magnesium-rich foods are numerous and can fit all kinds of diets.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium (mg)

* Adequate intake (AI)
Reference: Institute of Medicine. Magnesium (chapter 6 in Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. The National Academies Press. 1997. [43] )

If you still feel the need to supplement, keep in mind that supplemental magnesium is more likely than dietary magnesium to cause adverse effects, which is why the FDA fixed at 350 mg the Tolerable Upper Intake Level for magnesium supplementation in adults. Also, you may want to avoid magnesium oxide: it has poor bioavailability (rats absorbed only 15% in one study, [44] and humans only 4% in another [45] ) and can cause intestinal discomfort and diarrhea.

Overhyped supplements

Numerous products are advertised as testosterone boosters, but the vast majority don’t work, though some can make you believe they do by boosting your libido. Maca , for instance, can enhance libido without affecting testosterone. [46] [47] [48] [49]

Maybe the most popular “testosterone booster” is D-aspartic acid (DAA, or D-aspartate). DAA did increase testosterone levels in two studies, one that used 2.66 g/day [50] and the other 3.12 g/day, [51] but two later studies found no increase with 3 g/day, [52] [53] and the latest even noted a decrease with 6 g/day. [52]

Eat a healthy, balanced diet, so as to avoid nutritional deficiencies. If your testosterone levels are low, pay attention to your intakes of vitamin D , zinc , and magnesium . Be skeptical of supplements marketed as testosterone boosters; there’s a good chance the only thing these supplements will boost is their manufacturers’ bottom lines.

Bottom line

The interventions discussed in this article will work best for men with low testosterone, but they can also help men with normal testosterone to sustain their levels, year after year.

Supplements can help, but they can’t replace a healthy lifestyle. In order to optimize your testosterone production, make sure you get enough quality sleep on a daily basis, incorporate some resistance training into your workout program, and monitor your weight.

Try to get enough vitamin D , zinc , and magnesium through your diet. However, if dietary changes prove insufficient, supplementation can help make up the difference.

Not all testosterone deficiencies can be fixed through lifestyle or supplement interventions. It may be prudent to speak with your doctor if the options discussed above do not yield sufficient results.

References

1 . ^ Travison TG, Morley JE, Araujo AB, O’Donnell AB, McKinlay JB The relationship between libido and testosterone levels in aging men J Clin Endocrinol Metab . ( 2006 Jul )

2 . ^ Chrysohoou C, Panagiotakos D, Pitsavos C, Siasos G, Oikonomou E, Varlas J, Patialiakas A, Lazaros G, Psaltopoulou T, Zaromitidou M, Kourkouti P, Tousoulis D, Stefanadis C Low total testosterone levels are associated with the metabolic syndrome in elderly men: the role of body weight, lipids, insulin resistance, and inflammation; the Ikaria study Rev Diabet Stud . ( 2013 Spring )

4 . ^ Giltay EJ, Enter D, Zitman FG, Penninx BW, van Pelt J, Spinhoven P, Roelofs K Salivary testosterone: associations with depression, anxiety disorders, and antidepressant use in a large cohort study J Psychosom Res . ( 2012 Mar )

5 . ^ Feldman HA, Longcope C, Derby CA, Johannes CB, Araujo AB, Coviello AD, Bremner WJ, McKinlay JB Age trends in the level of serum testosterone and other hormones in middle-aged men: longitudinal results from the Massachusetts male aging study J Clin Endocrinol Metab . ( 2002 Feb )

6 . ^ Wu FC, Tajar A, Pye SR, Silman AJ, Finn JD, O’Neill TW, Bartfai G, Casanueva F, Forti G, Giwercman A, Huhtaniemi IT, Kula K, Punab M, Boonen S, Vanderschueren D, European Male Aging Study Group Hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis disruptions in older men are differentially linked to age and modifiable risk factors: the European Male Aging Study J Clin Endocrinol Metab . ( 2008 Jul )

7 . ^ Handelsman DJ, Yeap B, Flicker L, Martin S, Wittert GA, Ly LP Age-specific population centiles for androgen status in men Eur J Endocrinol . ( 2015 Dec )

8 . ^ Cote KA, McCormick CM, Geniole SN, Renn RP, MacAulay SD Sleep deprivation lowers reactive aggression and testosterone in men Biol Psychol . ( 2013 Feb )

11 . ^ González-Santos MR, Gajá-Rodríguez OV, Alonso-Uriarte R, Sojo-Aranda I, Cortés-Gallegos V Sleep deprivation and adaptive hormonal responses of healthy men Arch Androl . ( 1989 )

12 . ^ Cortés-Gallegos V, Castañeda G, Alonso R, Sojo I, Carranco A, Cervantes C, Parra A Sleep deprivation reduces circulating androgens in healthy men Arch Androl . ( 1983 Mar )

13 . ^ Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, Penev PD Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity Ann Intern Med . ( 2010 Oct 5 )

16 . ^ Daly W, Seegers CA, Rubin DA, Dobridge JD, Hackney AC Relationship between stress hormones and testosterone with prolonged endurance exercise Eur J Appl Physiol . ( 2005 Jan )

19 . ^ Tajar A, Forti G, O’Neill TW, Lee DM, Silman AJ, Finn JD, Bartfai G, Boonen S, Casanueva FF, Giwercman A, Han TS, Kula K, Labrie F, Lean ME, Pendleton N, Punab M, Vanderschueren D, Huhtaniemi IT, Wu FC, EMAS Group Characteristics of secondary, primary, and compensated hypogonadism in aging men: evidence from the European Male Ageing Study J Clin Endocrinol Metab . ( 2010 Apr )

20 . ^ Hall SA, Esche GR, Araujo AB, Travison TG, Clark RV, Williams RE, McKinlay JB Correlates of low testosterone and symptomatic androgen deficiency in a population-based sample J Clin Endocrinol Metab . ( 2008 Oct )

22 . ^ Corona G, Rastrelli G, Monami M, Saad F, Luconi M, Lucchese M, Facchiano E, Sforza A, Forti G, Mannucci E, Maggi M Body weight loss reverts obesity-associated hypogonadotropic hypogonadism: a systematic review and meta-analysis Eur J Endocrinol . ( 2013 May 2 )

23 . ^ Camacho EM, Huhtaniemi IT, O’Neill TW, Finn JD, Pye SR, Lee DM, Tajar A, Bartfai G, Boonen S, Casanueva FF, Forti G, Giwercman A, Han TS, Kula K, Keevil B, Lean ME, Pendleton N, Punab M, Vanderschueren D, Wu FC, EMAS Group Age-associated changes in hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular function in middle-aged and older men are modified by weight change and lifestyle factors: longitudinal results from the European Male Ageing Study Eur J Endocrinol . ( 2013 Feb 20 )

24 . ^ Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, Kuhn J, Dreier J, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Wehr E, Zittermann A Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men Horm Metab Res . ( 2011 Mar )

25 . ^ Wehr E, Pilz S, Boehm BO, März W, Obermayer-Pietsch B Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) . ( 2010 Aug )

26 . ^ Institute of Medicine (US) Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium, A Catharine Ross, Christine L Taylor, Ann L Yaktine, Heather B Del Valle Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D . ( )

34 . ^ Valentiner-Branth P, Shrestha PS, Chandyo RK, Mathisen M, Basnet S, Bhandari N, Adhikari RK, Sommerfelt H, Strand TA A randomized controlled trial of the effect of zinc as adjuvant therapy in children 2-35 mo of age with severe or nonsevere pneumonia in Bhaktapur, Nepal Am J Clin Nutr . ( 2010 Jun )

35 . ^ Willis MS, Monaghan SA, Miller ML, McKenna RW, Perkins WD, Levinson BS, Bhushan V, Kroft SH Zinc-induced copper deficiency: a report of three cases initially recognized on bone marrow examination Am J Clin Pathol . ( 2005 Jan )

37 . ^ Maggio M, De Vita F, Lauretani F, Nouvenne A, Meschi T, Ticinesi A, Dominguez LJ, Barbagallo M, Dall’aglio E, Ceda GP The Interplay between Magnesium and Testosterone in Modulating Physical Function in Men Int J Endocrinol . ( 2014 )

38 . ^ Uwitonze AM, Razzaque MS Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function J Am Osteopath Assoc . ( 2018 Mar 1 )

39 . ^ Costello RB, Moser-Veillon PB A review of magnesium intake in the elderly. A cause for concern? Magnes Res . ( 1992 Mar )

41 . ^ Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research; Marriott BM, editor. Washington (DC) Nutritional Needs in Hot Environments, “Influence of Exercise and Heat on Magnesium Metabolism” National Academies Press (US) . ( 1993 )

43 . ^ Institute of Medicine (US) Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride . ( )

44 . ^ Yoshimura Y, Fujisaki K, Yamamoto T, Shinohara Y Pharmacokinetic Studies of Orally Administered Magnesium Oxide in Rats Yakugaku Zasshi . ( 2017 May 1 )

46 . ^ Gonzales-Arimborgo C, Yupanqui I, Montero E, Alarcón-Yaquetto DE, Zevallos-Concha A, Caballero L, Gasco M, Zhao J, Khan IA, Gonzales GF Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Pharmaceuticals (Basel) . ( 2016 Aug 18 )

49 . ^ Dording CM, Schettler PJ, Dalton ED, Parkin SR, Walker RS, Fehling KB, Fava M, Mischoulon D A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of maca root as treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women Evid Based Complement Alternat Med . ( 2015 )

50 . ^ G. D’Aniello, S. Ronsini, T. Notari, N. Grieco, V. Infante, N. D’Angel, F. Mascia, M. Fiore, G. Fisher and A. D’Aniello D-asparate, a key element for the improvement of sperm quality Advances in Sexual Medicine . ( 2012 Oct )

52 . ^ Melville GW, Siegler JC, Marshall PW Three and six grams supplementation of d-aspartic acid in resistance trained men J Int Soc Sports Nutr . ( 2015 Apr 1 )

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