Working in the supplement industry for almost 2 and half years, in addition to being in practice for a year now, I have to say one of the most popular inquiries coming from men of all ages is: “How can I boost my testosterone levels naturally”? So, I decided to dedicate my next piece to address this common concern amongst the male population.
Testosterone has many important functions and plays a pivotal role in men’s health. Many men do experience signs of low testosterone but fail to attribute the changes they feel to "late onset hypogonadism", which is defined as declining testosterone levels in the body and often goes underdiagnosed and untreated. Studies do show that men experience a decline in testosterone levels between the ages of 40-50 and a slow decline thereafter-YES it is true!
Signs that may indicate declining levels of testosterone include: low energy, increased irritability, mood changes, changes in sleep patterns, loss of muscle mass, reduced libido, weight gain and erectile dysfunction. Now, it is important to keep in mind that not all men will experience these changes. It is often not diagnosed until testosterone levels have depleted significantly, demonstrating the importance of lab testing when balancing hormones.
5 Causes of Low Testosterone:
- Increased fat tissue lowers testosterone levels via increased conversion to estrogen
- Pollution – there are many chemicals that can disrupt the balance of hormone production in our bodies such as: phthalates, cleaning supplies, detergents, nail polish and some body care products
- Increased stress/Adrenal fatigue
- Thyroid hormone imbalances
- Lack of estrogen clearance
When it comes to hormone levels in the body, more is not necessarily better – it is all about creating that fine balance. For example, most men with a testosterone deficiency convert too much of their testosterone into estrogen, thus by simply decreasing the conversion of testosterone to estrogen you can increase testosterone levels. Now, there are many ways to do this naturally. One way to increase testosterone levels is through increasing elimination of estrogen. This can be done simply through optimizing liver function and promoting healthy bowel function by improving liver detoxification pathways which allows for optimal estrogen clearance.
Naturopathic medicine can offer an alternative to conventional therapies for treating low testosterone levels. However, there are a lot of supplements out there marketed to falsely "boost testosterone" levels when minimal research actually supports these claims. A big one to be aware of is Tribulus Territus. It is a part of many formulations claiming to increase testosterone levels in men. Bodybuilders commonly use Tribulus Territus as a post cycle remedy in an attempt to speed up natural testosterone production in the body. When looking at the research, Tribulus Territus does not in fact increase testosterone levels in the body. Below are some lifestyle, botanical and supplementation suggestions to help the body detoxify, eliminate excess estrogen in aim to slow down the progression of declining testosterone levels.
Lifestyle Factors of Low Testostorone:
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid marijuana
- Quit smoking
- Avoid plastics, household cleaners, pesticides, herbicides - consider switching to glass and all natural cleaners
* All of the above lower testosterone levels in the body
- Weight loss – Increased fat tissue can increase estrogen production, in turn decreasing testosterone levels
- Exercise – Testosterone levels are highest post resistance training
- Stress management – High cortisol levels can stop testosterone secretion
Tip 1: Optimizing Liver function
- Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) - 200-400 mg/day
- Foods high in I3C include: Brassica family of vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage)
- Calcium D Glucarate - 600-1500 mg/day
- Foods high in Calcium D Glucarate include: Cruciferous vegetables, apples, oranges, grapefruits
- N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) - 500-1500 mg/day
- Foods high in NAC include: Cruciferous vegetables, cabbage, kale, bok choy, broccoli
Tip 2: Nutritional supplementation:
- Zinc – Approximately 20-50 mg/day for a couple months
- Foods high in zinc include: Oysters, red meat, lobster, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables
- L-Arginine: 2-4g/day
- Foods high in L-Arginine include: Meat, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes (especially peanuts)
- L-Carnitine: 1000-1500mg/day
- Foods high in L-Carnitine include: Almost exclusively in animal products
Tip 3: Botanical supplementation:
The important thing to know about testosterone issues is that you do not need to live with them! More often than not, hormonal imbalances are your body’s way of telling you what it needs. Consult a Naturopathic Doctor prior to starting these supplements to ensure no interactions exist between existing medications and natural supplements and to take the recommended amounts of each.
**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.**
Written By: Dr. Saira Kassam | 2018