Testosterone boosting supplements are in high demand in the bodybuilding industry due to the impact of testosterone on building muscle mass and strength. It’s energy-boosting, fat regulating and bone-strengthening properties are also valued by athletes and bodybuilders, thus driving up the popularity of these supplements.
But supplements are not the only way to boost testosterone levels. The low testosterone in men in the 30s to 50s, nowadays, are not just because of aging, it is also due to various lifestyle factors. So let’s take a closer look at why testosterone is important and how we can naturally increase its levels, to enjoy its health benefits and improve the quality of our lives.
Why Testosterone Levels are Important
Testosterone is primarily a male reproductive hormone produced mostly in the testicles. It is also produced by the ovaries in women, though in much smaller amounts. Testosterone production begins during puberty and it rises dramatically during teen years to peak at the ages of about 19 to 20. It continues to remain high during a man’s 20s though it starts to decrease once he crosses into his 30s.
Testosterone plays a key role in sperm production and is commonly associated with libido (sex drive) and virility. Testosterone has many other roles and is required for regulating bone density, muscle mass, fat storage, and red blood cell production. It also has a significant impact on mood and energy levels, in men. Women also require optimum levels of testosterone for various body functions.
Though a natural decline in testosterone levels is to be expected with aging, there are also many natural ways to increase and maintain your testosterone levels. Certain lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, an active lifestyle, regular exercise, a healthy sleep routine and reducing stress can help raise testosterone levels. Certain food items, vitamins, and minerals play a significant role in increasing testosterone levels by preventing the conversion of testosterone into estrogen or by directly impacting the production of testosterone.
12 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Testosterone Levels
Let’s now take a closer look at some evidence-backed ways to increase testosterone production and the ingredients in testosterone boosters that directly impact testosterone levels. We shall start with lifestyle factors before moving on to the nutrition that impacts your testosterone levels.
1. High-Quality, Restful Sleep
In today’s competitive world, we tend to compromise on our sleep routines. Whether its work-related or binge-watching Netflix, many of us tend to go to bed quite late at night.
Our circadian rhythm is influenced by the presence and absence of light which in turn signals melatonin production. As the sun sets and night falls, our melatonin levels spike up, making us become more relaxed and eventually fall asleep at night. Our tendency to sleep late and at odd times, as well as, the artificial (blue) light from our mobile or computer screens disrupt melatonin production and cause our circadian rhythm to be out of balance. This has many health consequences, including its negative impact on testosterone levels.
A 2011 study from the University of Chicago, USA, found that sleeping for just 5 hours a night was associated with a 15% decrease in testosterone levels. A previous study from the same university had noted borderline deficient levels of testosterone in study subjects who slept only four hours per night.
Another study from the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Modena, Italy observed that testosterone levels rise about 15% higher for every additional hour of sleep.
About 7 to 10 hours of sleep is recommended for not just raising your testosterone levels, but for your general long term health as well.
Summary: To raise and maintain healthy testosterone levels, high-quality, restful sleep is vital. At least 7 to 10 hours a night of sleep is recommended.
2. Exercise and Weight Lifting
Exercise is a great way to stay fit and healthy. It not only prevents some lifestyle-related diseases but also increases your testosterone levels. All types of exercise stimulate the release of testosterone but some studies have shown weight lifting has an even better impact.
A study conducted in 2012 by the School of Medicine in Spain has shown that physically active men have better semen parameters when compared to sedentary men. Some additional tests were performed to assess the difference, which revealed that physically active men have a more muscle-building type of hormonal environment and a healthier semen production.
A year-long study published in 2008 was conducted on 102 men who didn’t exercise. After a year of exercise, there was a 14.5% increase in their testosterone levels.
Exercise and resistance training is highly beneficial, especially in people with low testosterone levels. Exercise combined with the right nutrition and plenty of sleep is a great way to improve your testosterone levels.
Summary: Exercise and resistance training is highly beneficial for raising testosterone levels, especially in those with low testosterone.
3. Minimize Stress and Cortisol Levels
Stress elevates cortisol levels. This is a natural mechanism of our body by which it prepares us to deal with the stress, by fight or flight. But chronic stress and continuously elevated cortisol levels can wreak havoc on our health in many ways and this includes decreased levels of testosterone.
Studies conducted as early as the 1980s have found that cortisol can reduce circulating testosterone levels. Stress can cause us to overeat and this eventually leads to weight gain and accumulation of fat around organs. This also impacts the testosterone levels in the body negatively.
To improve your general well-being and maintain optimal testosterone levels, you have to focus on reducing and handling stressful situations in your life. A healthy sleep routine and moderate regular exercise also help reduce stress levels and naturally raise testosterone levels.
Summary: Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels negatively impact testosterone levels. Reducing and managing stressful situations can help improve testosterone levels and general well-being.
4. A Healthy Diet Plan
Diet has a major impact on various hormone levels including testosterone. A good diet plan with adequate nutrient and calorie intake can help in maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
Eating egg yolk, fortified cereals, oysters, beef and beans is advised for increasing testosterone level. A balanced diet containing proteins, carbs and fat can help you balance your testosterone levels and health.
A study was conducted by researchers from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City in 1988 to evaluate the effect of nutrition on sex hormone levels in men. A group of men was analyzed with a food questionnaire and blood samples. This study revealed that fat intake is beneficial for testosterone.
Another study from Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802, USA was conducted in 1997 to understand the relationship between dietary nutrients and exercise with testosterone levels. 12 men performed exercise and completed dietary food records for 17 days. The resulted data confirmed that nutrients and exercise can modulate testosterone levels.
A healthy diet should ideally provide you with all the nutrients you need for raising your testosterone levels. There are also many testosterone boosters in the market with 100% natural ingredients that are scientifically proven to raise testosterone levels.
Now let’s take a look at some of these natural ingredients in testosterone boosters and see if they actually do the job. Rather than order formulations with these ingredients, you can individually add them to your diet.
Summary: A good diet plan with adequate nutrient and calorie intake can help in maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
5. D-Aspartic Acid
D-Aspartic acid is a natural amino acid that plays a significant role in regulating the neuroendocrine system of your body. In particular, it controls the hypothalamus of the brain which is responsible for secreting different hormones like testosterone. The D-Aspartic acid supplement can boost the production of testosterone and can also result in improved athletic performance.
A 2009 study conducted by Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italy investigated how D-aspartic acid plays a role in the release of testosterone. During the study, 23 men were given a daily dose of D-aspartate for 12 days and another group of 20 men was given a placebo. It was observed that there is a significant increase in the release of testosterone.
Another scientific research study conducted in 2012 by researchers of Italy investigated the impact of nutritional supplement D-aspartate on the improvement of sperm quality. In this 90-day study, 30 men with impaired sperm production were prescribed to consume D-aspartate. The results indicated an increased sperm count from basal value 8.2 million/ml to 16.5 million/ml.
These findings suggest that D-Aspartic acid supplement can be beneficial to people with low testosterone levels and to those with impaired sexual function. Some evidence has also revealed that D-Aspartic acid benefits both sperm quality and quantity, and may help treat fertility problems faced by men. D-Aspartic acid supplements are considered safe without any side effects.
Summary: D-Aspartic acid supplement can boost the production of testosterone and can also result in improved athletic performance.
6. Tribulus Terrestris
Tribulus Terrestris is a small plant, fruits, and roots of which are used in Indian Ayurvedic Medicine for centuries. It has various health benefits including, boosting the effect of testosterone secretion. In men and women with reduced sex drive, Tribulus Terrestris is known to increase libido.
A double-blind study was conducted in 2012 in Ayurvedic Medical College, Tamilnadu, India, in which 21 to 50-year-old subjects received Tribulus Terrestris or placebo for 60 days. During the study, it was found that Tribular Terrestris has superior results in managing male infertility and libido.
The herb Tribulus Terrestris carries potential health benefits to the cardiovascular system and boosts testosterone secretion. It can be used to treat the libido in men and women. This herb is known as testosterone booster among weightlifters and is used for strength and muscle gain. It is also considered beneficial for fertility and sexual enhancement.
Summary: In men with reduced sex drive, Tribulus Terrestris may increase libido and sperm production.
7. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is produced in your body as a response to sun exposure. It is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth and it also protects you against some diseases. Nowadays due to lack of sun exposure, Vitamin D deficiency is largely seen in people. Getting enough sunlight and with the help of natural Vitamin D supplements, you can reach adequate levels. Vitamin D is known to boost testosterone and sperm quality.
A study was conducted by the Medical University of Graz, Austria in 2011 to find the effect of vitamin D on testosterone levels in men. This study included around 200 nondiabetic men among which a group of people received 83 µg of vitamin D daily for 1 year and others were given the placebo. There was a significant increase in testosterone in people with vitamin D supplementation and the placebo group showed no changes.
Researchers from Germany conducted a randomized placebo-controlled study to find the relation between vitamin D deficiency and low testosterone. Participants were on a weight loss program for 12 months during which 3,333 IU of vitamin D3 was given. There was a significant increase in testosterone in participants where testosterone levels rose from 3 nmol/liter to 13.4 nmol/liter after 12 months.
Vitamin D can not only make your bones stronger but also increases your performance by improving your testosterone levels. The above studies indicate that increased sun exposure and Vitamin D supplements can help you to boost your testosterone levels. It is difficult to find Vitamin D in food hence during deficiency Vitamin D supplements are advised.
Summary: Vitamin D can not only make your bones stronger but also increases your performance by improving your testosterone levels.
Ginger is a well-known spice that carries powerful medicinal properties. Filled with nutrients and bioactive compounds it can benefit both your body and mind. It has been used in traditional and alternative medicine for years for its anti-inflammatory properties. Along with helping in treating digestion issues, the common cold, flu, and nausea it also boosts your testosterone levels.
A study published in Tikrit Medical Journal 2012 examined the effect of ginger supplements semen parameters and testosterone. This study included 75 infertile men age 19 to 40 years who are married for two years and have no children, were given ginger supplements. Results after 3 months showed that there is a 17% increase in testosterone levels and also a significant rise in FSH, LH hormones. Researchers also found improvement in sperm health and sperm count.
Another study of 2018 conducted by Jordan University of Science and technology was conducted to understand the link between dietary ginger supplements and testosterone levels. This was an in vivo study conducted on rats which revealed that ginger enhances testosterone by the increased blood supply to Leydig cells, increasing LH and reducing oxidative stress. Ginger also results in the recycling of testosterone receptors.
Ginger is a great dietary supplement with numerous health benefits. Ginger increases the luteinizing hormone and enhances the activity of certain hormones. By adding ginger in your diet plan you can enhance the release of testosterone.
Summary: Ginger supplements have anti-inflammatory properties and have been found to also enhance the release and activities of testosterone.
Fenugreek is another popular herb with medicinal properties. Fenugreek is known to improve digestion and also enhances heart health. Fenugreek helps to increase sperm count and testosterone levels. It contains furostanolic saponin compounds which are believed to increase testosterone production.
A study conducted by the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Belton, TX, the USA in the year 2010 tested college men in a double-blind fashion. Thirty resistance-training program men were given either placebo or fenugreek once per day for a period of 8 weeks. In the fenugreek group, testosterone and bioavailable testosterone levels increased and the other weight-trained group experienced a slight decline in testosterone levels. Fenugreek also improved strength and fat loss.
A clinical study conducted by Science and Nutrition Pty Ltd, Clinical Trials, Brisbane, Australia in 2011 evaluated how fenugreek affects the male libido. It was a double-blind randomized control study that included 60 healthy males age 25 to 52 years. They were given 600 mg of fenugreek or placebo for 6 weeks. The results revealed significant positive effects on physiological aspects of libido and healthy testosterone levels. Fenugreek increased sexual performance, energy levels and it also improved the quality of life.
Fenugreek can be effectively used by healthy as well as sexually impaired men to boost testosterone levels and sexual function. It can also enhance your mood with a better quality of life.
Summary: Fenugreek contains furostanolic saponin compounds that are believed to increase testosterone production and boost libido.
Zinc is an essential trace element that can stimulate 100 different enzymes in your body. A very small amount of zinc is needed to acquire its health benefits. As zinc can not be stored in your body it needs to be consumed regularly. Zinc helps to build a healthy immune system and boosts the secretion of testosterone. Your body can lose zinc easily through sweat, hence zinc supplement may be needed to maintain its level during deficiency.
A study of 1996 conducted by Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, USA studied the relationship between zinc concentration and serum testosterone level. This cross-sectional study was done on 40 men of age around 20 to 80 years. Testosterone level was measured before and during marginal zinc deficiency. Zinc supplementation for 6 months in marginally zinc-deficient elderly men resulted in an increase in serum testosterone from 8.3 +/- 6.3 to 16.0 +/- 4.4 nmol/L.
The researchers Netter A, Hartoma R and Nahoul K conducted a study in 1981 to understand the effect of zinc supplements on plasma testosterone and sperm count. In this study, 37 patients with infertility of more than 5 years were advised to consume zinc supplements. Oral administration of zinc significantly increased sperm count and testosterone levels.
If you have low testosterone zinc can boost your testosterone levels. Your body can get zinc easily as it is available in many food items. Zinc supplements may carry a risk of toxicity hence it is essential not to consume in large quantities.
Summary: Zinc supplementation for 6 months in marginally zinc-deficient elderly men resulted in an increase in serum testosterone.
Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb known for its adaptogen and anxiolytic properties. Ashwagandha helps your body to handle stress and anxiety effectively. It carries numerous health benefits to your body and brain. Ashwagandha also improves reproductive health by influencing testosterone levels.
A study conducted by State Government T. T. Hospital, Lucknow, India, in the year 2009 investigated the impact of Ashwagandha on semen profile and testosterone levels of infertile men. The prospective study resulted in increased testosterone and LH levels. Ashwagandha improved sperm quality and also reduced oxidative stress.
Another study was conducted in 2015 from a few medical colleges of India to examine the possible effects of Ashwagandha root extract. In this double-blind placebo-controlled study 29 men were given 300 mg of Ashwagandha extract twice daily and 28 subjects were given a placebo for 8 weeks. Results of the study revealed that Ashwagandha increased the strength, performance and testosterone levels.
Ashwagandha reduces your stress, allows your body to balance hormones and improves sperm quality. Ashwagandha supplements, when consumed daily, elevates the production of healthy testosterone. Ashwagandha has shown promising results when used to treat infertility. When you are fighting stress or age-related low testosterone levels, trying this natural herb Ashwagandha can help you improve.
Summary: Ashwagandha improves reproductive health by influencing testosterone levels.
12. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
Dehydroepiandrosterone is an endogenous hormone found within the human body. Naturally produced by the adrenal glands DHEA has a powerful effect on the production of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. It helps to improve your sports performance, helps in weight loss, enhances libido and results in a healthy immune system.
A study performed by researchers from the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Turin, Italy in the year 2009 evaluated the short term effect of DHEA supplement. In this study, 24 men underwent a placebo-controlled study who received 50 mg of DHEA or placebo daily before bedtime for two months. It resulted in a 20% rise in testosterone levels when compared to placebo.
With aging physical and mental weakness occurs and also free testosterone levels decline. A study was conducted by the Laboratory of Exercise Biochemistry, Taipei Physical Education College of Taiwan in 2013 to evaluate the effect of oral DHEA on middle-aged men. 8 middle-aged men and 8 young control group participated in the study. This study concluded that DHEA supplementation can elevate testosterone levels in middle-aged men.
With all the above studies we can say that DHEA can increase testosterone levels. As some evidence shows that DHEA can enhance muscle strength, its use is banned in professional sports. In individuals with impaired sexual function and libido, supplements containing DHEA may prove beneficial.
Summary: Produced by the adrenal glands, DHEA has a powerful effect on the production of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.
The Final Note
Testosterone affects not only sex drive in men, it also influences mental health, red blood cell production, bone density and muscle mass in men. Optimum levels of testosterone are required to keep a man healthy and energetic. Testosterone levels naturally decline with rising age, especially in your 40s and above, though today’s lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep, exercise, and stress have a significant impact on how quickly this decline happens.
Adding food containing vitamin D, zinc or aspartic acid to your diet helps boost testosterone levels while herbs and spices such as tribulus terrestris, ashwagandha, fenugreek, and ginger have been found to increase testosterone levels in research studies.
A healthy sleep and exercise routine, a nutritionally balanced diet with adequate calorie intake, maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing your stress levels are all lifestyle changes that will help naturally raise your testosterone levels.