Most men I know want more testosterone even if they have normal levels (that’s how you know if a man is “normal”) and many are looking for natural testosterone boosters to do it.
Surely by now you’ve heard of “low T”. But what exactly is that? First, there are different testosterone levels. The most important testosterone level is the free testosterone level. This is the testosterone that can actually enter the cells and does what testosterone does. Most of the circulating testosterone (about 98%) is bound to two proteins; albumin and sex-hormone binding globulin. So only 2% or so of testosterone is free testosterone (though testosterone bound to albumin can be made available for the cells if needed).
Natural testosterone boosters work three main ways. They increase testosterone production (the most obvious). Another way, though, is to limit how much testosterone is bound to sex-hormone binding globulin. The third way natural testosterone boosters work is by decreasing the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, or the so-called “female” hormone. Through the enzyme aromatase some testosterone gets converted into estrogen. Aromatase levels tend to be higher in men carrying around too much fat around the mid-section.
Let’s now take a look at some natural testosterone boosters. The results of research on natural testosterone boosters is frequently mixed with some studies showing benefit and others not showing any benefit. But the following supplements at least seem to work for some men in boosting testosterone levels.
Increase Testosterone Production
DHEA: DHEA is a steroid hormone that steadily declines in men and women during the 20s. It is a precursor to both estrogen and testosterone. At least one study in older men over age 65 found an improvement in testosterone levels following DHEA supplementation. In our experience though DHEA does not raise testosterone levels significantly and certainly not to optimal levels. As it has other health benefits DHEA supplementation is wise to consider if measured levels are deficient.
Tribulus: Tribulus terrestris is an herb and reported aphrodisiac. Proven to improve sexual in some animal studies, yet well conducted studies in humans have not been performed. Tribulus is reported to stimulate LH production in the pituitary. LH then stimulates the Leydig cells in the testes to produce testosterone. I have seen tribulus improve testosterone levels in some men.
Zinc: Zinc is very important to overall male reproductive health. In one study 60 mg of zinc a day was associated with improvement in testosterone levels and sperm counts in a group of infertile men. Zinc also has the additional benefit of being able to inhibit aromatase thereby blocking the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
L-Carnitine: A derivative of an amino acid, L-carnitine has been shown in some studies to improve testosterone levels, libido, orgasm, and erectile function. 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg a day is the dosage.
Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin Reducers
Fish Oil: The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, DHA and EPA have been shown to reduce sex-hormone binding globulin. So, there’s another health benefit to fish oil.
Protein: A low protein diet is associated with higher levels of sex-hormone binding globulin and therefore lower levels of free testosterone.
Chrysin: Chrysin is a natural aromatase inhibitor, and thus a natural testosterone booster that has long been used by bodybuilders to minimize the conversion to testosterone to the undesirable estrogen. The problem with chrysin is its absorption from the GI tract is rather poor. Taking piperine, a black pepper extract, along with it will improve its bioavailability.
Zinc: As mentioned earlier zinc can also inhibit aromatase. Try 100 to 150 mg a day.
If you have low testosterone levels or think that you may and are in your 30’s or early 40’s it may be worth trying these natural testosterone boosters. But get your testosterone levels measured first. It probably makes sense to try one natural booster from each of the three categories discussed above for optimal results. If these natural testosterone boosters do not improve testosterone levels or if you are over age 45 the best available option is to consider testosterone replacement therapy under the supervision of an experienced physician.
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