The 21st Century Rise of Low Testosterone

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While it’s normal for testosterone levels to decline as we grow older, there’s evidence the rate at which that happens in men is increasing over the past four decades.[1]

In fact, recent research estimates that nearly 4 out of 5 men with dyslipidemia, arterial hypertension, obesity, type-II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) also have low testosterone.[2] 

Have you been to a shopping mall or supermarket recently? Statistically, 2 out of 3 men that you see have one (or more) of the conditions I just mentioned.[3] Maybe someone close to you (or even yourself) could stand to lose a few pounds? Any men you know that are diabetic or on blood pressure medication?

It’s an improbability if you don’t know any men like that, and when you account for those factors, the number of men who have low T is upwards of 40%!

This is problematic since low testosterone goes hand-in-hand with a life full of health complications, especially cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death globally.[4] 

Further estimates suggest that roughly 5% – 10% of otherwise healthy men are clinically deficient in testosterone (< 300 ng/dL).[5] 

Surely, you’re thinking, “That’s only 1 in every 10 men or so, no big deal.”

Well, not so fast…

Even if you’re in good health, eat healthy, and exercise regularly, it behooves you to get your testosterone levels checked – especially if you’re entering your 30s . It’s better to take action while you’re still relatively young so you don’t have to resort to TRT in the future. The sooner you take interest in your hormonal health, the better your results will be in the long run.

Not to mention, many presumable causes of low testosterone are sitting right in front of our eyes (literally).

This article will cover all the basics of testosterone, why low testosterone is on the rise, and some simple evidence-based ways to boost testosterone naturally that can be used alongside testosterone supplements.

The Truth about Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)

A disconcerting result of this increase in men with low testosterone is that more men are jumping on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) when they don’t actually have an underlying medical condition causing hypogonadism. I can tell you from firsthand experience that far too many physicians are quick to prescribe TRT under false pretenses.

A simple blood draw or two is not sufficient evidence for true hypogonadism. You should be skeptical if a physician is telling you to take testosterone based on a few needle pricks.

In my case, it took months of seeing different doctors and specialists who thought it was all in my head (oh the irony). I can’t even begin to count how many blood draws I endured – all of which showed very low testosterone levels (i.e. <150 ng/dL at 20 years old) – to finally convince one of the doctors to order an MRI of my head.

Sure enough, I was diagnosed with a pituitary gland microadenoma (tumor) at the age of 21. Basically, many of my hormones – including testosterone – were out of whack. So yea, it was in my head (literally) after all…

I was put on TRT, and having to inject myself weekly is a nuisance that I wish I didn’t have to deal with. It has helped in terms of my well-being, but TRT comes with side effects that can be tough to manage at times. I wish more men were aware of the risks involved in taking testosterone when they really don’t need it and the pros and cons of testosterone therapy in general. It can be a dangerous endeavor, and there’s no going back once you cross that bridge.

One thing I’m grateful for is the newfound passion I had for endocrinology as I was going through all the testing and diagnostic procedures to figure out why my testosterone was so low despite eating healthy, sleeping 8 hours a night, and lifting weights 5-6 times a week. I ended up majoring in biochemistry during my undergraduate studies while trying to resolve my own health problems. This eventually led to me pursuing a masters degree in molecular pharmacology and toxicology, and a career in writing about health/nutritional sciences.

As a disclaimer, I am not a licensed physician. The advice and information in this article is the result of many years of postsecondary education, reviewing primary literature, and researching topics related to things like nutrition, physiology, endocrinology, and other health sciences. I do not consider myself an expert. Frankly, I think it’s pretentious to think of yourself like that. I’m always learning. That’s what I love about science; there’s always more to look forward to.

Now that we’re better acquainted, let’s talk about what testosterone is and how it works.

What is Testosterone?

Testosterone is the principal androgen (male sex hormone) in males; it’s vital for a man’s overall health and wellness throughout the lifespan. Females also have androgens, but in lower amounts. The primary female sex hormones are estrogens, which we will discuss throughout this book as they also play a role in optimizing your testosterone levels.

What Does Testosterone Do?

Quite simply, androgens like testosterone are steroid hormones that directly influence the development of male sex traits, like facial/body hair growth, broadening of shoulders and chest, deepening of the voice, and even psychological characteristics.  

However, testosterone is also a highly anabolic steroid hormone, meaning it stimulates “building” processes throughout the body. A notable example is the way testosterone encourages greater muscle growth; hence, it’s the most common steroid used for performance enhancement purposes by athletes and bodybuilders.

Conversely, men with low testosterone (“low T”) often struggle to pack on muscle mass no matter how hard they train or how diligent they are with their diet.

But there are many other hurdles that men with low testosterone face.

Feel like your sex drive has been in the gutter lately and it’s hard to “keep it up” in the sack? Maybe you’ve lost the motivation and confidence you had just a few short years ago?

Would it surprise if I told you low testosterone is associated with all of the above? What if I told you low T is also correlated with shortened lifespans in men?

Research shows that men with low testosterone are more likely to be diagnosed with impotence, metabolic dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, and prostate cancer.[6],[7] What’s most worrisome is that men with low T tend to die at an earlier age than those with normal/healthy testosterone levels.[8] 

As you can see, it’s not really a metaphor at all to say that testosterone is a fountain of youth…because it is!

Hidden Causes of Low Testosterone

We are exposed to chemical pollutants and xenobiotics, like phytoestrogens and phthalates from plastics, on a daily basis.[9] Over time, these slowly sap men of their testosterone without them even knowing.[10] For example, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the environment are suggested to reduce serum testosterone levels over time.[11] 

Compound that with the drastic increase in processed sugar-laden foods and beverages we so frequently rely on for sustenance and you have an endocrine system disaster waiting to happen.

I was one of those kids that always had a Gatorade nearby, not really thinking about what the plastic bottle and its contents were doing to my insides. Whether or not it contributed to my pituitary dysfunction and low testosterone is anybody’s guess, but it surely didn’t help. (Tip: Get a metal water bottle to bring with you and refill throughout the day.)

And that’s not all…

Desk job, anyone? How about a day on the couch watching Netflix? We sit behind computers (or indoors) all day, we’re under constant stress to make money and pay bills, we drink frequently, and then cap it all off with a short night of sleep.

Make no mistake, an occasional lazy day is certainly fine…if you earned it! But being sedentary all the time is problematic because inactivity is strongly correlated with obesity, insulin resistance, and heart disease.[12] In addition, lack of physical activity is known to negatively impact testosterone levels in men.[13] 

Even if you hit the gym daily, you need to be mindful of what you’re doing when you’re there. Heck, endurance athletes have been shown to have a mere 50% of testosterone levels as sedentary men of the same age.[14] The type of exercise you do is key (more on this later).

And surely, what you do outside the gym also plays a major role in testosterone production.

Poor nutritional habits, frequent alcohol consumption, stress, and sleep deprivation are all contributors to low testosterone.[15],[16] 

Considering all of the above, it’s quite clear the rise in men with low testosterone is by no means the natural order of things since many of the underlying causes are consequences of 21st century civilization and our lifestyles. In fact, low testosterone is now one of the most common male endocrine dysfunctions across the globe – which is worrisome, to say the least.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone

What happens when a man has low testosterone? Well, they become less of a man.

Without adequate testosterone, even seemingly rudimentary daily activities can become quite a chore. No man likes the feeling of waking up with no energy or motivation to be productive, let alone a desire to get out of bed.

You might just write it off as being under a lot of pressure at work or school, or going through a rough patch, but when that becomes a habitual thing, something is wrong.

Here are common symptoms of low testosterone:

  • Lack of sex drive (low libido)
  • Unexplained loss of muscle mass
  • Increase in body fat
  • Development of breast tissue (gynecomastia)
  • Shrinking testes
  • Erectile dysfunction (impotence)
  • Infertility
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Feeling like you can’t get enough sleep
  • Mood disorders (e.g. depression and anxiety)
  • Inability to concentrate (brain fog)
  • Loss of body and pubic hair
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia)

It’s important to note that while you may exhibit several of the above symptoms, they are not caused exclusively by low testosterone. For example, being depressed and experiencing brain fog are also symptoms of chronic stress and poor diet. If you were to try and treat depression unrelated to hormonal health with TRT, the health risks from using testosterone would likely increase.

It’s essential to confirm that you have low T with the appropriate blood work: total and free testosterone level assays. These will give you an objective look at where your testosterone levels fall. Most doctors and independent labs are able to do these tests.

What’s a Healthy Testosterone Level?

Most people are aware that menopause – which is tied to low estrogen and progesterone – is a common ramification of aging in women.

But what about men and testosterone levels as they grow older?

Well, quite a similar trend occurs.

A healthy adult male may lose anywhere from 0.5% – 5% or more of his natural testosterone production per year once he reaches his late 20s. In fact, testosterone levels typically peak between a male’s late teens and mid-20s, followed by a steady decline thereafter. This is an intrinsic part of the aging process in men.  

Interestingly, a recent biostatistics study that analyzed data from over 10,000 healthy males between the ages of 3 and 101 years old suggests that testosterone levels tend to “flatline” around the age of 40.[17] Hence, the term “andropause” is sometimes used to refer to this phenomenon.

The catch is that’s also the age where the variation of total T levels amongst older men starts to increase, so just because you’re in “andropause” doesn’t necessarily mean you have hypogonadism (low testosterone).

The aforementioned study ultimately tells us that a normal/healthy level of testosterone is actually highly individualistic (see chart below).

Image Credit: PLOS One

As it stands, the “normal range” for men over the age of 30 is about 10.4 nMol – 36.4 nMol/L (or 300 ng/dL – 1050 ng/dL). More simply, there is a wide variation in “healthy” testosterone levels in men, especially as we enter our 30s. 

Some men will feel completely fine and dandy despite being on the lower end (red and blue dots below the curved line) of the normal range for their age. Thus, you should not compare yourself to others when it comes to your testosterone levels. There is no “optimal” level for everyone.

Image Credit: Examine.com

So, when should you be concerned about low testosterone levels?

Image Credit: PLOS One

If your testosterone levels fall in the range of the bottom green and blue lines on the chart above (roughly 10.4 nMol/L <–> 300 ng/dL or less) and you are experiencing symptoms of low T, you should take it seriously. This range accounts for approximately 10% of men 30 ages or older and may be indicative of hypogonadism. 

Now, this is not to say that someone with below average levels shouldn’t take interest in boosting testosterone levels naturally. There are plenty of benefits to increasing testosterone levels, and it’s reassuring to know your “man juice” is flowing. 

Do You Have Low Testosterone?

In the event your levels come back low, it’s imperative to do everything in your power to tackle low testosterone naturally before even considering TRT. Thankfully, the vast majority of men can optimize their testosterone levels through proper lifestyle choices. 

So, take a deep breath; I assure you that low testosterone is not an endpoint, and it doesn’t have to define the rest of your life, nor should you be afraid to talk to someone about it. Low testosterone isn’t something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of; we are all fighting an uphill battle against modern lifestyles, chemical exposure, and an increasingly stressful culture.

Yet, most of us aren’t having the discussion we need to about this. Perhaps it’s because there’s still so much stigma about low testosterone? 

As an example, if a man takes testosterone because he has low T, it’s a taboo act. “Oh, he’s on steroids,” people will say. 

If a woman takes estrogen because she’s menopausal, people see it as a “normal” medical treatment (which it is). But estrogen is a steroid too! 

This sort of cognitive dissonance only perpetuates the misapprehension that testosterone is inherently “bad” and “dangerous.” 

And just so we’re clear, it’s not. 

Testosterone is the most vital hormone for men. Without it, men wouldn’t be men. Just think about how enthusiastic, energetic, and easily excitable you and your peers were in your teenage years and early 20s. It’s no coincidence that testosterone levels tend to peak at those ages. 

But being older doesn’t mean you can’t feel like your younger self again. If anything, age is just a number, and it sure as heck isn’t an excuse! 

Optimizing your testosterone levels can not only add years to your life, but life to your years. 

Testosterone and Masculinity: What it Means to “Be a Man”

Masculinity is a primitive concept that has been conserved throughout evolution of humans. Men with more testosterone are biologically programmed to take matters into their own hands and grab life by the horns, so to speak. Some people like to refer to this as the “alpha drive,” which is a reference to the leader of a wolf pack.

Sure enough, multiple studies have found that there is a correlation between males with higher levels of testosterone and displaying “alpha” (read: masculine) characteristics. In other words, men with higher testosterone are naturally more dominant and confident.[18],[19] 

Research has even shown that testosterone is positively associated with attractive facial and vocal features in men.[20] As you can imagine, this paid dividends during early human times when man’s main goal was to procreate – which often meant there was a competition among them to mate with females.

Ever felt that extra “boost” you get at the gym when there are women you find attractive working out nearby? This phenomenon is a classic example of your testosterone (and oxytocin) kicking in and giving you a competitive jolt, so to speak.

In fact, men with higher testosterone typically have more success in mating, motivation, determination, confidence, libido, energy, muscle mass, and strength then those with lower testosterone. If that doesn’t compel you enough, testosterone is also positively associated with quality of life and longevity.[21] 

Of course, these are just generalities. Not all men with higher testosterone are more masculine or attractive than those with lower testosterone, nor are they destined to outlive them. To reiterate from earlier, it’s important to consider the relativity of healthy testosterone levels. Balance is key, especially when it comes to the endocrine system.

Importance of Hormone Balance

We’ve talked a lot about testosterone and how it’s the veritable “life force” for men. However, the body has a highly intricate pathway (steroidogenesis) that coordinates the synthesis of many steroid hormones from cholesterol.

As part of this pathway, testosterone is metabolized into either dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the 5-alpha reductase enzyme or estradiol by the aromatase enzyme. 

Estradiol is the primary estrogen in both males and females. Contrary to androgens, estrogens have potent feminizing effects, such as stimulating the growth of breast tissue.

While estrogens are essential hormones for males and females, they can become problematic when they are imbalanced with androgens. Even if a man has high testosterone levels, he won’t see much benefit if his estrogen levels are also high because they can compete for the same androgen receptors. Basically, the estrogens will block the androgens from working their mojo. 

Symptoms of High Estrogen in Men

Naturally, high estrogen in a man comes with its own set of unwelcome symptoms that resemble those of low testosterone.

One unique symptom of high estrogen in men is the phenomenon of ‘man boobs’ (gynecomastia). This is a medical condition caused by a man having too much estrogen in the body. It’s extremely common in overweight men because aromatase is found primarily in body fat tissue. Hence, they convert more of their testosterone to estradiol.

Likewise, men who use excessive amounts of steroids that convert to estrogen are at a high risk of developing gynecomastia and other estrogen-related side effects, such as low sex drive and impotence. 

But estrogens are only part of the testosterone balancing equation. Another key factor is controlling the amount of cortisol that the adrenal glands produce.

How Stress Can Lower Testosterone

Cortisol is the chief “stress hormone” and corticosteroid in humans; it’s highly catabolic, meaning it breaks down complex molecules and body tissues to provide energy during times of stress. (Recall that testosterone/androgens do the opposite.)

For example, cortisol is responsible for the apprehension and anxiety you might feel from daily stressors, such as running late for work or forgetting to eat all day.

The reason the testosterone:cortisol ratio is so important is because the fate of progestogens, notably pregnenolone, is what determines whether or not these hormones are converted to androgens or corticosteroids. When you are under chronic stress, the body diverts more of the progestogens towards cortisol production and less of it towards testosterone/androgens.[22] 

This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as the “pregnenolone steal,” because the stress is essentially robbing your body of the necessary precursor molecules for testosterone production.

This is a prime example of one way modern society – and constant pressure to work around the clock – is sapping men of their vitality.  

Intuitively, practicing stress-reducing habits is crucial for balancing testosterone with cortisol. It might sound like pseudoscience, but even daily meditation can have a positive effect on testosterone (and cortisol) levels.[23]

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some simply, yet effective ways to increase testosterone naturally.

Ways to Increase Testosterone Naturally

There are many ways to increase testosterone naturally, some of which actually have little to do with what you put in your body. Diet certainly does play a big role, though

Eat More “Good” Fat and Less “Bad” Fat

I hesitate to classify foods as being wholly “good” or “bad” simply because the dose is what determines that, not the food itself. However, being mindful of the specific nutrients in the food you eat is imperative if you’re serious about boosting testosterone.  

Dietary fats come in either saturated (with hydrogen molecules) or unsaturated forms, both of which are essential for proper health and longevity. Yet, the media tends to demonize saturated fats and praise unsaturated fats, as a whole. This is misleading and shortsighted as different fatty acids have their own unique roles in the body.

For example, peanuts and many vegetable oils (e.g. canola oil, soybean oil, and corn oil) are generally rich in linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acid. You might think, “Oh, it’s unsaturated, so that’s good, right?”

Well, not necessarily…

Some scientists argue that the rise of inflammatory diseases is largely a result of modern Western diets becoming increasingly rich in processed foods that are high in linoleic acid and low in monounsaturated fats and anti-inflammatory omega-3s, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).[24] 

This can lead to an imbalance of omega-3s to omega-6s in the body that contributes to a chronic proinflammatory state, damaging cells and making us less resilient to stress.

Ever wondered why countries like Italy and other Mediterranean countries have such lower incidences of heart disease?[25] They rarely consume cheap cooking oils and proinflammatory  fats. Instead, they get their fats from foods like olive oil and grass-fed cattle. In fact, olive oil and avocados are both generally encouraged for heart health and longevity due to their oleic acid content – a monounsaturated fatty acid that helps reduce blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.[26]

The takeaway is to limit your consumption of processed vegetable oils and foods containing these ingredients (like most salad dressings). Don’t be fooled into thinking they are healthy just because the fat is unsaturated.

Likewise, there are saturated fats to watch out for. Most of the saturated fats in the typical Western diet are long-chain fatty acids (LCTs), like those in margarine, Crisco, fried foods, processed cheese, and fatty grain-fed meats that are digested through the lymphatic system due to their size. It’s well-known that diets high in these types of saturated fats can increase blood pressure and clog arteries, among other cardiovascular consequences.[27] 

Naturally, this is not ideal for testosterone levels or general health.

But medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are abundant in foods like coconut and grass-fed butter, are smaller saturated fats that are much easier to absorb via the intestines directly into the bloodstream and be converted into energy.[28] 

So, how much saturated fat do we really need for healthy testosterone levels and longevity? As a general starting point, active individuals should aim for about 25% of their total fat intake in the form of saturated fats, most of which should come from MCT-rich foods.

For example, if you consume 80 g of fat per day, roughly 20 g or so of that should be from saturated fat. The remainder of your fat intake should come predominantly from quality unsaturated fats found in foods like avocado, olive oil, fresh seafood, almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts. A high-quality omega-3 supplement can also help you meet the recommended daily intake of EPA and DHA.

Get On Your Feet

In this age of digital everything, many people are in the unfortunate predicament of sitting behind a computer monitor for 8+ hours per day. Recent research contends that this is a crucial factor in the obesity epidemic we’re witnessing.[29] Sitting for long periods of time has been found to inactivate a specific fat-burning enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL). In turn, the body’s intrinsic capacity to burn fat for energy is effectively shut off when we work a sedentary job.

This makes you more prone to gaining excess body fat; recall from earlier that overweight and obese men tend to have higher estrogen levels and lower testosterone levels.

So, how can you avoid this if you work a desk job?

Quite simply: get on your feet and move more! Every 30-45 minutes, take a quick 5- minute walk around the office or go refill your water bottle. During your lunch break, get outside for a walk and some sunshine.

You can also look into using a standing desk for your workspace as this will keep you on your feet without hindering your ability to be productive.

This will not only rejuvenate your mind and give your eyes some relief, but it will keep your body from entering full-on “sedentary mode.”

Exercise Intensely (Enough)

Exercise plays a pivotal role in boosting testosterone and sculpting a chiseled physique, but not just any type of exercise.

The magic starts to happen when you take the intensity up a notch.

High-intensity exercise (such as moderately heavy resistance training) that pushes you to your anaerobic threshold has been shown to be the most effective exercise for ramping up testosterone production naturally, as well as fat burning and muscle growth.[30] 

Also, remember from earlier that research has found endurance athletes typically have significantly lower testosterone levels than other males, even their completely sedentary peers.15 

Running on the treadmill or biking is fine in moderation, but you should be prioritizing resistance training and some form of high-intensity exercise instead of long bouts of cardio. If all you do right now is go for jogs after work/school, it’s not going to do much for your testosterone levels (except possibly reduce them). Your exercise routine should be somewhat challenging.

And don’t worry, I’m not saying you have to train like a pro bodybuilder or until you’re puking your guts out, but high-intensity workouts should definitely leave your muscles burning a bit (and that’s a good thing!).

That “burning” sensation you feel in your muscles after sprinting as fast as possible for 100 meters or lifting relatively heavy weight to exhaustion is precisely what initiates the metabolic and hormonal benefits of exercise.

Furthermore, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) doesn’t need to be very long for them to be effective. If anything, they will save you time in the gym! It’s not about the time you put in; it’s what you put into the time that matters.

As an example, Tabata training – which is a highly effective form of HIIT – entails 20-30 seconds of “all-out” bursts where you perform an exercise as fast/intense as possible, then rest for 45-60 seconds and repeat the process 6-10 times.[31] Many elite athletes use this type of training to improve their performance in sports.

The beauty of this type of training is you don’t need much in the way of gym equipment; even sprinting up a nearby hill or doing burpees in your living room will suffice. Again, the key is to go “as hard as possible” during the all-out intervals.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Let’s be real, pretty much everybody knows that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol carries a ton of health risks. I could sit here and tell you the obvious, like alcohol damages the liver and suppresses your immune system, but that isn’t particularly enlightening to most people.

Instead, let’s focus on what will grab your attention: muscles and testosterone.

Surprisingly,  several studies have found that even transient alcohol intoxication (i.e. getting drunk one time) has been shown to reduce muscle protein synthesis by nearly 30%, and these effects appear to be specific to fast-twitch muscle fibers and muscle tissue surrounding the heart.[32],[33] One study also showed that acute alcohol intoxication decreased blood testosterone levels by upwards of 200 ng/100 mL in men![34] 

In short: those occasional Friday nights indulging in copious libations are doing more damage than you think for your body composition and longevity.

Chronic alcohol consumption is well-known to disrupt metabolic processes, adversely affecting skeletal muscle’s ability to produce energy.[35] 

Interestingly, acute consumption of small amounts of alcohol may actually increase testosterone according to one study.[36] The catch is that the subjects were given a very low dose of alcohol (roughly half the amount of ethanol found in a 12 oz can of beer).

And let’s be honest, no man goes out for a night on the town just to drink half a beer.

Bottom line: avoid alcohol as much as possible. It’s okay to drink an occasional glass of wine or beer from time to time, but regularly pounding an entire bottle of chardonnay or a 12-pack of Bud Light is not going to help you get your manhood back.

Catch Some Z’s

Many men barely get more than 5-6 hours of sleep per night due to their lifestyles. This is a major no-no if you’re trying to maximize your testosterone levels naturally. In fact, a recent study in healthy young men found that as little as one week of sleep deprivation (<5 hours per night) reduced their testosterone levels by an average of 15% (not to mention their reported “vigor”  plummeted).[37]

Other research has found that even one night of sleep loss can impair insulin sensitivity, spike cortisol levels, and increase food intake.[38] (Remember what cortisol does to testosterone!)

Sleep deprivation is also strongly correlated with obesity and type-II diabetes.[39] 

Okay, so the solution is to sleep as much as possible, right? Well, not quite…

Oversleeping can have similar health ramifications as sleep deprivation.[40] Ideally, you should aim for between 7-9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health and boosting testosterone.[41] 

As we age, the need for long nights of sleep drops ever-so-slightly, so older men (e.g. 55+ ) might be able to “get away” with 6 hours of sleep per night. Young and middle-aged men, however, typically require at least 7 hours per night, but no more than 9.

—> Link to sleep blog

Get Some Sun

It comes with the territory of most jobs to be stuck inside all day. But most men are overlooking how dramatically sunshine can affect testosterone levels and mood. The ultraviolet rays of the sun are Mother Nature’s way of activating vitamin D found in the skin.

Familiar with the phenomenon of the “winter blues”? Well, it’s more or less a direct result of less sun exposure during the colder months, and vitamin D deficiency is associated with mood disorders like depression.[42]

On the flip side, men with higher vitamin D levels typically have higher testosterone levels.[43] 

Never take a breath of fresh air for granted. Get outside and sit in the sun for at least 20-30 minutes per day.

You can also take it a step further by supplementing with vitamin D3 (also found in TruALPHA Plus), but don’t do this with the intention of it replacing regular sunlight exposure.

Consume More Magnesium & Zinc

Magnesium and zinc are arguably the two most crucial minerals for proper endocrine function and boosting testosterone levels. In fact, two recent 4-6 week studies showed that athletes and sedentary men taking either magnesium or zinc supplement daily had significant increases in both total and free testosterone levels.[44],[45] The kicker is that the athletes saw the greatest increases, confirming the importance of regular exercise for men looking to boost testosterone naturally.

Normally, magnesium and zinc are abundant in red meat, seafood, and plant foods like leafy greens, various nuts, and legumes. However, recent research has found that the magnesium content of food sources is declining at an alarming rate (ostensibly a result of modern agricultural practices).[46],[47] Consequently, a population-level decline in magnesium and zinc statuses has also been observed over the last decade.[48],[49] 

Therefore, supplementing with a bioavailable form of organic magnesium and zinc, such as the patented amino acid chelates found in TruALPHA Plus, is a wise decision for boosting testosterone naturally even if you consume a well-rounded diet.

Consume More Magnesium & Zinc

These tips may seem generalized, but you’d be surprised how effective they are if you remain consistent! There is no “magic pill” that will make up for things like lack of sleep, not exercising, and going on weekend benders every month.

After all, doing the right things consistently is the name of the game, especially for boosting testosterone levels naturally.

Do Testosterone Boosters Work?

Arguably the most common question men have when looking for ways to boost testosterone naturally is whether or not they should take a testosterone booster supplement. The answer is not as straightforward as one would think, largely because the ingredients in testosterone boosters vary significantly.

Nevertheless, there are a handful of natural ingredients that have promising scientific and clinical research backing their benefits. The following gives a brief overview of some of these popular testosterone boosters:

Ashwagandha Root Extract

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it modulates our response to stress in a manner that restores homeostasis. If you’re feeling anxious or restless, it brings you “down” to a calmer state of mind; if you’re feeling fatigued and mentally foggy, it lifts you so you can focus and concentrate.

Better yet, ashwagandha appears to be especially useful for boosting natural testosterone production.[50]

A 12-week research study of 75 men who supplemented with ashwagandha root extract found that their total testosterone levels increased by a whopping 40% from baseline values.[51] Their sperm cell count also increased significantly.

Other evidence-based benefits of ashwagandha include[52]:

  • Natural anxiolytic and antidepressant properties
  • Potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Support for healthy mood
  • Promotes immune function

For boosting testosterone and controlling stress/cortisol, it’s best to supplement with 250 – 500 mg daily of ashwagandha root extract (standardized to at least 5% withanolides).

Tongkat Ali

Eurycoma longifolia, more commonly known as tongkat ali and longjack, is another adaptogenic herb that has extensive health-promoting characteristics.[53] Extracts of this plant have been used for decades as a male aphrodisiac and natural means of boosting luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FsH) levels, leading to subsequent increases in testosterone.[54] In fact, tongkat ali is one of the most thoroughly studied natural testosterone boosters on the planet.[55] 

Murine studies have found that tongkat ali can nearly double natural testosterone levels, while human research suggests it may counteract hypogonadism in men in a fairly rapid manner.[56],[57] Another welcome benefit is that Tongkat Ali also appears to have natural anti-estrogen and stress-reducing properties.[58] 

Fenugreek

The seeds of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) are frequently used in cooking applications due to their natural maple syrup-like taste. Lately, fenugreek has climbed the ranks as one of Mother Nature’s tried-and-true medicinal herbs due to its distinct phytochemical composition, which is generally high steroidal saponins like protodioscin and diosgenin.[59] 

Several studies have found that extracts of fenugreek seed increase androgenic activity and help reduce body fat in healthy men.[60],[61] In fact, recent clinical research showed that fenugreek seed extract supplementation increased testosterone levels by about 15% in healthy males over a 12-week treatment period.[62] 

It’s likely that saponins in fenugreek seeds and leaves block the actions of reductase enzymes that break down testosterone in the body. Though, these studies had relatively small sample sizes and were met with limitations. More well-controlled, independent clinical studies are necessary to confirm the benefits of fenugreek for boosting testosterone, but the current evidence is intriguing.

Shilajit

Shilajit is a gooey substance found in the rocks of the Himalayan mountains. It develops over the course of centuries from microbial decomposition of plants and is a distinct source of fulvic acid – the compound suggested to mediate its testosterone-boosting effects.[63] One clinical study showed that healthy men who took purified shilajit for 90 days had upwards of 50% greater increases in testosterone levels compared to the placebo group.[64] Further research suggests that shilajit also has beneficial effects on muscle growth, strength, energy production, and immune function.[65] While it doesn’t have as extensive human data as tongkat ali, the preliminary evidence is favorable.

Chelated Boron

Boron is a powerful testosterone-boosting and estrogen-reducing mineral according to recent research.[66] The conundrum is that it’s not particularly abundant in many foods, let alone in bororganic (chelated) form.

For example, raisins are one the richest dietary sources of inorganic boron, with about 3 mg per 100 g of raisins. But eating 100 g of raisins every day can quickly tally up unnecessary sugar intake, and it still won’t give you the clinically effective dose of boron (5 – 10 mg). As such, taking a testosterone booster with 5 -10 mg of bioavailable chelated boron is the more sensible approach.

Quality is Key for Testosterone Boosters

Arguably the single most important feature of a testosterone booster (or any dietary supplement) is the quality of ingredients and formula. Aside from intermittent monitoring by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there is no governing body that oversees how dietary supplements are made, what they contain, or if they are even effective. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may step in once in a blue moon if a company is egregious enough, but beyond that there’s not much regulatory control.

Thus, it’s incumbent on consumers to do their research and determine whether or not they trust the claims being made supplement companies. A dead giveaway to be suspect of a supplement is if it contains proprietary blends and lacks transparency.

Companies will argue that they use proprietary blends to “protect their secret formula from competitors,” but the reality is they do it to save money on their end. Ultimately, this means you get an undisclosed (and likely ineffective) amount of ingredients.

Look for supplements that offer total label transparency, meaning you can see the exact dose of every ingredient in the product. This is crucial. The next step is to assess the quality of the ingredients. Where do they come from? Are they GMO? Is the product made in a CGMP-certified facility?

These are all questions you have to consider when buying testosterone boosters/dietary supplements. You can even go the extra mile and verify that the ingredients on the label are actually in the product via a certificate of analysis or batch testing. TruSigma is happy to provide COAs for all of the ingredients in TruAlpha and TruAlpha Plus and any reputable supplement provider should be able to do the same. 

Take Action into Your Own Hands

Phew! You made it! There has been a lot of information to take in throughout this article, but hopefully you now have a strong grasp of what testosterone is, why you should check your testosterone levels, and how to boost testosterone naturally.

Before you head off, there’s a few things you need to keep in mind:

Men have to be willing to acknowledge that their masculinity is fading before they can start the journey of reclaiming their manhood. I realize no man wants to admit to himself (or his partner) that he’s lost motivation to pursue his dreams, or that he has no interest in sex, or that he’s going to skip another night at the gym because he’d rather sit on the couch and drink beer.

But if you feel like your testosterone is depleting, don’t feel defeated or embarrassed. Trust me, many men are going through this same battle. Believe me when I tell you, low T is conquerable with the right strategy.

You create your own success in this life. If at any point you feel like you’re not making progress, take a step back, assess your long-term goals, and make any necessary changes to your current habits to continue your journey.

Most importantly, don’t give up! You’re not going to see a drastic change in your testosterone levels overnight no matter how many testosterone boosters you’re taking. Give it time and be patient.

Many men won’t stick with a plan because they get upset with the short-term results (or lack thereof) and completely forget that improving health/fitness and optimizing testosterone levels is a lifelong process that takes commitment and consistency on your behalf.

A well-formulated testosterone booster like TruALPHA can definitely help as a supplement, but you still need to put in the work when it comes to diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits.

Remember, it’s never too late to turn your life around, but the best time to start is now! Make it happen.

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