Testosterone Supplements: Everything You Need to Know

September 15, 2021

Low testosterone levels are commonly associated with a variety of sex-related issues, chief among them low sex drive, weight gain, and even erectile dysfunction. 

While there are plenty of ED medications available to help treat the symptoms of ED, there isn’t as much that can be done about the former with the exception of restoring testosterone to a normal and healthy level.

This can be harder than it sounds. For one, research is still a little vague on how precisely nutrition affects testosterone production in the body. And, testosterone treatments, like testosterone replacement therapy, carry their own issues.

Still there's enough knowledge available to be able to recommend a few potential methods to support testosterone in the body. First, it’s important to understand what testosterone does and why testosterone levels can be low in the first place.

What Does Testosterone Do?

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone for men, but it's actually produced naturally in both men and women alike. During puberty, testosterone is responsible for the growth and maturity of sex organs such as the penis and testicles. It also contributes to the development of facial, body, and pubic hair, larger muscles, and a deeper voice. After puberty, testosterone contributes to various other important functions in the body such as:

  • Sperm production and regulation
  • Maintaining the mass and strength of bones and muscles
  • Storage and distribution of fat throughout the body
  • Production and regulation of red blood cells

What Are the Causes of Low Testosterone Levels? 

There can be many reasons for a man to experience low levels of testosterone. For men, testosterone production typically peaks during their late 20s or early 30s. After hitting this peak, they generally fall by about one to two percent every year. 

Along with the natural aging process reducing testosterone production, it’s possible to experience hypogonadism. This is a condition where the testicles fail to produce an adequate amount of testosterone. Primary hypogonadism occurs when there is an issue with the testicles, possibly due to injury or infection. Secondary hypogonadism occurs as the result of an issue with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. Both types may be experienced from birth or they can develop over the course of life. 

What Are the Symptoms of Low Testosterone? 

Low testosterone is defined as having serum T of less than 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL).

At issue, though, is that baseline testosterone levels can vary from man to man, and they can vary throughout the day, too, meaning a testosterone measurement at morning can be totally different from just before bed.

While precise numbers are unknown, it’s estimated that nearly five million men in the United State have low enough levels of testosterone to be meet these diagnostic criteria. 

Some of the most common symptoms of low testosterone levels include:

  • Decrease in strength of the muscles
  • Depression
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fatigue 
  • Increase in body fat and weight gain
  • Loss of bone density and mass
  • Loss of facial and body hair
  • Mood swings
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Trouble sleeping

Which Supplements Are Best For Increasing Testosterone? 

When it comes to taking supplements, there are plenty of over the counter options, some of which even call themselves “natural male enhancements.”  Most supplements are unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and do not contain testosterone. In fact, true testosterone supplements should not contain T, which is available only by prescription.

Instead testosterone supplements are intended to support general wellbeing and upstream functions that contribute to proper testosterone production. Rather than adding testosterone, supplements are intended to maintain, boost, or help support proper your body's natural testosterone production.

Some of the most effective of the many ingredients you may see include:

D-Aspartic Acid 

D-aspartic acid is a type of amino acid, a molecule that performs several functions in the body. It primarily helps to build protein, hormones, and neurotransmitters. D-aspartic acid doesn’t actually have anything to do with proteins, which are made of amino acids. Instead it plays a role in the creation and release of various hormones, including gonadotropin releasing hormones. When these hormones are present in the pituitary gland it results in the release of luteinizing hormones, which play a direct role in the production of testosterone. 

While D-aspartic acid has shown that it can increase testosterone levels in animal studies, human trials have been inconsistent and more studies are warranted.  

DHEA 

Dehydroepiandrosterone, commonly known as DHEA, is a steroid hormone that's created from cholesterol and naturally manufactured by the adrenal glands. DHEA is considered a precursor hormone, meaning that the body can convert it directly into other hormones, including testosterone. 

Studies have yet to conclude that taking DHEA by itself can increase testosterone production; however, when combined with physical exercise, it increased the testosterone levels of those taking it compared to those exercising without it. 

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is a highly important fat soluble nutrient present in an abundance of foods and dairy products. It can also be produced naturally by the body when the skin is directly in contact with sunlight. 

The relationship between vitamin D and testosterone isn’t exactly clear; however, there seems to be a direct link between low levels of testosterone and vitamin D deficiencies. One study performed over the course of a year found that participants receiving daily vitamin D supplements had much higher levels of testosterone than those taking a placebo. 

Zinc 

Zinc is an essential mineral that's not created in the body; rather it's taken in through diet. This mineral helps to regulate the immune system, cell division, breaking down food, and helping to build protein. It’s not exactly clear how zinc and testosterone are related, but zinc deficiencies are commonly associated with low testosterone. It’s not perfectly clear if zinc helps boost testosterone levels in those with an adequate amount of the mineral in their system, but it may help in those with a deficiency.

Potassium 

Potassium is an important mineral for the body, and it functions similarly to an electrolyte. It helps the body to regulate fluids and muscle contractions along with improving nerve signals. Potassium also seems to have a hand in the regulation of plasma testosterone, suggesting that it could be beneficial to boosting overall testosterone levels. Human trials have yet to make definitive conclusions about the relationship between testosterone and potassium. 

Magnesium 

Magnesium is an important mineral for several bodily functions. It can help to regulate blood pressure, retain bone strength, and maintain the rhythm of the heart. Like many other items on this list, magnesium deficiencies are also commonly associated with low levels of testosterone. 

Taking magnesium has been shown to improve overall levels of free and total testosterone in both athletic and sedentary individuals, although the improvements were much higher in athletes.

Are There Other Ways To Increase Testosterone Levels? 

Along with taking various supplements, there are other options for those of us looking to increase or normalize our testosterone levels. 

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy can increase levels of testosterone through direct administration on or into the body. This treatment is available as an injection, patch, oral med, or gel. 

While this treatment can be highly effective at boosting testosterone levels, it is not a permanent solution. Some treatments may have to be administered daily, while others might last for a few months. No matter the delivery method or dosage, this treatment is typically life-long once started. 

Lifestyle Changes 

There are a few ways that you may be able to improve your natural levels of testosterone without using a supplement or medication. 

Some lifestyle changes that might help boost testosterone include:

  • Physical exercise. Getting more exercise is healthy in general, but it can also help to naturally boost testosterone. Weight-lifting in particular seems to be the most effective at raising testosterone. 
  • Losing weight. Obesity is directly linked to lower levels of testosterone and other sexual dysfunctions. A four inch increase in waist size can increase the chances of experiencing low testosterone levels by as much as 75 percent. 
  • Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol can have a disruptive impact on the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and testicles. Each of these are responsible for the production of testosterone. Additionally, long term excessive drinking can cause damage to the liver. This could result in an increase in the production of estrogen.
  • Get more sleep. Constantly lacking sleep can interfere with the production of testosterone. Testosterone levels are their highest in the morning, suggesting that the majority of testosterone is created during sleep.
  • Reduce stress. When guys experience stress, their body releases the hormone cortisol. This stress hormone has a direct relationship with testosterone — higher cortisol levels = lower testosterone levels. 

The Takeaway:

When it comes to increasing testosterone levels, there are a few supplements that may help. They can aid in the production of testosterone in the body, not replace it directly. In the event that they aren’t effective, making lifestyle changes and/or undergoing testosterone replacement therapy may be the best option. 

As a man gets older, he naturally produces less and less testosterone. This can lead to a variety of health and sexual issues. One of the more common issues associated with low levels of testosterone is erectile dysfunction or low libido. Fortunately, there are several medications available that can help treat these symptoms. Testosterone supplements may help too, particularly if you're lacking particular nutrients.

If you're curious about ED medications like generic Viagra, Rex MD can help. Ordered online and delivered to your door, if approved, our virtual process is easy and affordable. 


SOURCES

Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults

Low Testosterone (Low T): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Understanding How Testosterone Affects Men | National Institutes of Health.

Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men

Potassium regulates plasma testosterone and renal ornithine decarboxylase in mice

Testosterone and Dehydroepiandrosterone Treatment in Ageing Men: Are We All Set?

Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion.

The putative effects of D-Aspartic acid on blood testosterone levels: A systematic review

Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men


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Disclaimer : This article is for information only and should not be considered medical advice. Always speak with your doctor about your health and the benefits or risks of any treatment or intervention. This information should not be relied on as a substitute for professional medical advice.