Testosterone is the most important of all male hormones. With testosterone you are strong, muscular, youthful and vibrant. Without it you’re a weak, shriveling, aging and feeble man.
As men get older, testosterone levels decrease. From about age 40, testosterone levels decrease about 0.3% - 1% per year. Young men under stress from school, jobs and family often have suppressed testosterone levels as well. Low testosterone levels result in reduced muscle mass, strength, sexual desire and mental capacity while also increasing the risk of obesity, brittle bones and heart attack.
The best way to maintain healthy testosterone levels naturally is through a combination of nutrition, exercise, stress management and supplementation.
Diet plays a huge role in testosterone regulation. Choose smaller portions of foods like soy that contain high levels of phytoestrogens. Avoid saturated fats that contribute to estrogen production. Instead choose EFAs from fish oil. And try to eat a high protein diet that contains complex low glycemic carbs.
Since muscle helps maintain higher testosterone levels, exercise on a regular basis. Whole body exercises like squats, deadlifts and bent rows are particularly good at stimulating testosterone and growth hormone release. Get plenty of sleep and reduce stress to suppress the muscle-destroying stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a big testosterone killer.
Supplementation can also help support your body’s production of testosterone. Let’s take a look at some of the supplements available on the market for boosting testosterone levels.DHEA
DHEA supports natural testosterone production because it is a precursor to testosterone, which the body can convert into testosterone through several steps. Your body produces DHEA naturally, but it declines with age. Supplemental DHEA can often help bring low testosterone levels into the normal range. The normal dosage for DHEA is 25 to 50 mg per day.Tribulus Terrestris
Also known as puncture vine, tribulus has been researched for its ability to increase testosterone naturally. Studies indicate that tribulus can increase luteinizing hormone by as much as 70% and thereby elevate testosterone production by 40%. In a study on 40 individuals, data shows tribulus increased endurance by 75% and sexual performance by 80%. By increasing testosterone production the data also shows tribulus may increase muscular development and strength although more research is needed in this area. The normal dosage for tribulus is 200 to 750 mg per day. The best tribulus products contain 20 – 40% protodioscin. Lower priced and less effective products simply contain saponins or sapogenins.ZMA
ZMA is a combination of zinc monomethionine aspartate, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6. 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. Zinc and magnesium play a role in over 500 metabolic reactions in the body while vitamin B6 is very important for muscle protein synthesis. The normal dosage for ZMA is 30 mg of zinc, 450 mg of magnesium, and 10.5 mg of B6 taken at night.Avena Sativa (Oats)
Avena sativa is the scientific name for common oats. Avenocosides are the active compound and are similar to saponins found in tribulus terrestris. The saponins in avena appear to stimulate testosterone levels through luteinizing hormone. The normal dosage is 100 mg to 250 mg of a 10:1 avena sativa extract taken 1-2 times per day.Epimedium (Horny Goat Weed)
Epimedium is grown in Asia and the Mediterranean region. Traditional use of epimedium is for treating fatigue and boosting sex drive. Epimedium is thought to work via modulation of cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone). Under conditions of high stress, testosterone levels decrease and cortisol levels increase causing fatigue and a depressed sex drive. Epimedium may assist in bringing cortisol levels back into normal range, and thereby testosterone levels as well. It is also thought to help restore normal metabolism and energy levels. Typical dosage levels are 250 mg to 1,000 mg per day in divided doses standardized for 10% icariin.Eurycoma Longifolia Jack (Tongkat Ali)
Often called longjack, this plant extract contains glycosaponins, which have been shown to raise free testosterone levels in castrated rats allowing them to gain weight. Preliminary human data is still spotty, but there is some indication that longjack extracts may enhance testosterone levels in individuals with testosterone on the low end of normal. Proper dosing is difficult to determine due to varying extract strength but a dose of 500 mg to 1,000 mg per day should be sufficient.Testosterone Ingredient Enhancers: 6,7-dihydroxybergamotin (DHB), Hesperitin, Naringin, Quercetin While not typically stand-alone ingredients in products, these plant flavonoid ingredients assist other ingredients by improving their potencies. For example, 4-etioallocholen-3,6,17-trione is degraded by the cytochrome p450 enzyme system. Citrus bioflavonoids like DHB and the others suppress the cytochrome p450 system by preventing the breakdown of 4-etioallocholen-3,6,17-trione on first pass through the liver. Dosages vary for each. A typical daily total flavonoid intake is between 250 mg and 500 mg. EPA / DHA (fish and flaxseed oil)
The essential fats EPA and DHA are extremely valuable for hormone production including testosterone. Without adequate fat in your diet, your body will not be able to produce testosterone and many other hormones. Essential fatty acids like those found in fish oil and flax seed oil are beneficial for testosterone production, anti-inflammatory effects, and cell membrane health. Consume 3 to 5 grams per day.Summary
Testosterone production is affected by many variables such as diet, exercise, stress and supplements. Here’s the take-home message:• Eat a high protein, healthy-fat diet.
Doing these four things can help restore healthy testosterone levels so you can reap all its benefits.