10 Foods to Boost Low Testosterone
By The Rex MD Editorial TeamMarch 18, 2021
Testosterone is portrayed as THE hormone that facilitates masculinity. And while testosterone has important effects on typical male characteristics, it's equally important as a hormonal messenger in the body of both sexes that can facilitate a variety of different physiological and psychological changes.
Low testosterone can be associated with symptoms that include a decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, decreased muscle mass, depression, and more. As we age, the amount of testosterone we produce typically tapers off, and to combat these symptoms, some people choose to undergo hormone replacement therapy and artificially increase their hormone levels.
While a decreased level of testosterone is associated with aging, it is possible to maintain a healthy testosterone level through living a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle changes including both diet and exercise can play a large role in maintaining a healthy testosterone level.
Below is a discussion of what testosterone is, foods to increase testosterone, as well as other things you can do to support healthy testosterone levels.
What is Testosterone and Why is it Important?
Testosterone is an incredibly important chemical messenger within the human body. For males, testosterone levels peak during adolescence, when the hormone facilitates many bodily changes. These changes include deepening of the voice, genital maturation, and increased muscle mass. Testosterone's role in adolescence is crucial in the transition to manhood and maturation.
While this is generally a peak period, testosterone is released throughout the entire lifespan of males and plays important roles in sexual function, production of sperm, good bone health, fat distribution, and muscle strength.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone that is created mainly in the testicles and in smaller amounts via the adrenal glands on top of the kidneys. More specifically testosterone is produced in cells called Leydig cells within the testicles. These cells are responsible for converting cholesterol into testosterone that then circulates throughout the body.
Leydig cells are told to begin this process through hormonal signals sent from the brain's pituitary gland. Luteinizing Hormone (LH) is released through the pituitary and is the hormone that is responsible for signaling the Leydig cells to begin testosterone production.
Once testosterone is created, it is transported throughout the body and signals changes in many different cells and systems within the body. Testosterone is created continuously throughout life and a healthy range is important in optimal physiological functioning.
Why is Testosterone Important?
Testosterone plays a vital role in men of all ages. As previously stated, testosterone is a key player in the physiological changes necessary during puberty, including maturation of the genitals, increase in muscle mass, and more.
Testosterone is also equally important throughout life as it aids in sustaining a healthy bone density, good libido, sex drive, competitiveness, as well as increasing the ability to gain muscle.
Additionally, testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day. Typically, testosterone levels peak in the morning and taper off throughout the day. This daily spike in the morning is one of the reasons that morning wood occurs.
The healthy testosterone range is quite large, typically between 300ng/dl and 1000 ng/dl. This large variability means that individuals can have 3 times the testosterone levels of another and still be within the healthy range. Testosterone levels below normal can be indicative of hypogonadism.
Low testosterone can lead to a decrease in libido, decreased energy levels, a reduction in muscle mass, and erectile dysfunction. These effects can have large impacts on your ability to live your life the way you want to.
Dietary Considerations To Increase Testosterone Levels
If you suffer from low testosterone or suspect you may have lower testosterone levels, there are actions you can take to ensure you are supporting your body the best you can. From a dietary perspective, you should ensure that you are getting adequate nutrition. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals like zinc and vitamin D have been shown to correlate with low testosterone levels.
Below is a description of these two nutrients as well as 10 different foods that can help you bolster a healthy daily intake of these vitamins and minerals.
Zinc is a mineral that must be consumed, and is not readily available endogenously. There are no mechanisms of storing zinc within the body, which means that it needs to be consumed on a regular basis for you to maintain a healthy level.
Foods that are high in zinc include oysters, shellfish, legumes, fortified cereal, and nuts. As an adult, the recommended daily allowance for zinc is 11mg.
Having a deficiency in zinc has been shown to correlate with lower serum testosterone levels. One study aimed to observe these correlations and found that when placed on a zinc restrictive diet, serum testosterone decreased, and when supplemented to proper levels showed an increase in testosterone levels.
While the exact mechanism behind zinc's influence on testosterone is not well known, getting a healthy daily allowance of zinc could support your testosterone levels if you happen to be deficient.
Increase Vitamin D
Like zinc, vitamin D levels have also shown a correlation to testosterone levels. Vitamin D, unlike zinc, can be produced within the body through the skin's exposure to UV radiation. This radiation is obtained through sunlight and is one of the benefits of getting sun exposure outdoors.
Unfortunately, many people are deficient in vitamin D as less people are spending time outdoors. Studies have shown that vitamin D levels and testosterone levels are positively correlated, and a deficiency in vitamin D could lead to a decrease in testosterone.
Foods that contain vitamin D include fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified dairy, and fortified cereal.
In addition to eating foods enriched with vitamin D, you can get exposure to sunlight to allow your body to naturally synthesize vitamin D. In combination with eating vitamin D enriched foods, getting small doses of UV light exposure can allow you to have a healthy level of vitamin D.
Other Factors to Consider
While diet certainly impacts your hormone levels, there are also other factors to be considered. Lifestyle choices are one of the main external factors that contribute to altered hormonal balance. Lifestyle choices include diet in addition to sleep patterns and activity level.
Below is a look at how your sleep and BMI can affect your testosterone levels as well as ways in which you can potentially help restore your testosterone levels.
Proper overall hormonal functioning is important in maintaining a healthy testosterone level. One of the largest impacts on hormonal functioning is getting enough sleep. The science behind why we sleep is largely up for debate, but the effects of not getting enough sleep are understood fairly well.
One small scale study found that participants that were sleep-restricted had a testosterone decrease of roughly 10%. While the exact mechanism behind what caused the testosterone decrease in participants is not known, the study did illustrate the importance of sleep on optimal hormonal functioning within the body.
Being well-rested is a great way to promote healthy testosterone levels as well as promoting a better sex life and stronger erection.
The Body Mass Index (BMI), is an indicator used in the medical community as a rough estimate of weight categorization. It takes your weight and height into consideration and gives you a value that can help determine whether you are appropriately heavy for your height/proportions.
Having a high BMI may be an indication of being overweight or obese, both of which can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels. Increases in body fat can increase the level of an enzyme known as aromatase, which is the enzyme responsible for converting testosterone into estradiol, a form of estrogen. Higher levels of estrogen can lead to an enlarged prostate, fat deposition in typically female areas such as the hips and breasts, and many other systemic effects.
According to the VA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, a general trend is that with every 1 point drop in BMI, you can expect a 1 point increase in your testosterone level. With this in mind, if you are in the upper range of BMI, you can choose to make healthy lifestyle modifications to decrease your BMI to increase testosterone levels and decrease aromatase levels.
Since low testosterone can cause decrease in libido, decreased energy levels, a reduction in muscle mass, and erectile dysfunction, it's easy to see why you may want to increase or maintain a healthy testosterone level.
Hormone replacement does exist, but it isn’t without its fair share of possible negative side effects. While increasing your testosterone levels can help alleviate some of these effects, you should consider medications like erectile dysfunction treatments, which provide a targeted response and the freedom to have a healthy sex life.
Low testosterone can place a burden on your day-to-day, and ED medication is appropriate for many men. The team at REX MD can help you overcome ED through personalized telemedicine and proven ED medications, fast and affordable.
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