Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone
Testosterone is a steroid hormone with important functions for both the female and male body and brain. It is produced in men’s testicles and women’s ovaries, with some also being produced from the adrenal glands.
While testosterone is important for driving physical changes in boys during puberty (increased muscle, deeper voice, and hair growth), it also plays a major role in adult health in both males and females. Despite being a male sex hormone, testosterone also contributes to sex drive, bone density, and muscle strength in women. During the reproductive years, testosterone in women is produced by the ovaries and by peripheral conversion of androstenedione and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which are pre-androgens synthesized by the ovaries and adrenal glands. The pre-androgens contribute about 50% of circulating testosterone in premenopausal women.
“Having optimal levels of this hormone is important for disease risk, body composition, sexual function, and overall general health.”
As we age, our testosterone levels decline. This decline, in the aging male, can be associated with the loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, depression, decreased cognitive ability, lethargy, osteoporosis, and the loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) and strength. In the aging female, the decline can be associated with low libido, weight gain, and changes in mood.
Having optimal levels of this hormone is important for disease risk, body composition, sexual function, and overall general health. Many healthy individuals, even those with age adjusted normal blood levels believe that they have to take testosterone supplements to boost their testosterone levels, often called “boosters”, but these often can cause more problems in the future. If you feel that your levels are lower than necessary, you should first consult a physician and get your levels measured. If you are diagnosed with low testosterone, here are some ways you can boost your testosterone naturally.
Physical exercise, specifically resistance training, is one of the best ways to boost your testosterone levels. A large review study found that those who exercised regularly had higher testosterone levels while another study found that in the elderly specifically, exercise increased testosterone levels, fitness and reaction time. Furthermore, new research shows that in obese men, increased physical activity was more beneficial than a weight loss diet for increasing testosterone levels.
“Both vitamin D and zinc have been shown to be important in helping your body make testosterone.“
Your diet plays a major role in your hormone levels, including testosterone. It has been shown that constant dieting or overeating can disrupt your testosterone levels – both dietary patterns common in the United States. For your hormonal balance, it is important to consume an adequate amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat (we recommend healthy, plant-based fats). It is generally understood that, for the average person, you want to get 45-65% of your daily calories from carbs, 20-35% from fats, and 10-35% from protein. If you’re very active, or are looking to grow more muscle, you may want to increase your protein intake.
While macronutrients are definitely important, don’t forget about micronutrients including vitamins and. Both vitamin D and zinc have been shown to be important in helping your body make testosterone. Nearly half of the US population is deficient in vitamin D, and even more have suboptimal levels. Research has shown it has many health benefits and that it may even work as a natural testosterone booster. While the best way is to get outside and get in the sun, some places or careers might minimize your ability to do so. If this is the case for you, taking a vitamin D supplement may be a good idea.
“As we get older, our testosterone levels naturally decline. This decline not only plays a role in the development of sarcopenia, but is also linked to obesity, increased disease risk and premature death.“
In addition to a healthy diet and regular moderate physical exercise, adequate regenerative sleep is a major lifestyle factor important not only for your health, but also for your testosterone levels. While everyone is different and requires different amounts of sleep to function optimally, one study found that sleeping only 5 hours per night was linked to a 15% reduction in testosterone levels.
As we get older, our testosterone levels naturally decline. This decline not only plays a role in the development of sarcopenia, but is also linked to obesity, increased disease risk and premature death. Healthy testosterone levels also matter for women, along with estrogen and progesterone levels. In women, testosterone is important for producing new blood cells, enhancing libido, and influencing follicle-stimulating hormones that can affect reproduction. Following a healthy lifestyle will not only add years of disease-free longevity, but also slow the physiological decline of testosterone.
E. Dylan Mayer E. Dylan Mayer is a graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder with both a major in Neuroscience and minor in Business. He is fascinated by the interactions of brain, gut and microbiome, and the role of nutrition in influencing the health of our microbiome, as well as our own well-being.