A man’s level of testosterone, AKA his “T level,” peaks at age 30. As he ages, that level naturally dwindles. But other factors such as diet, lifestyle, and hypogonadism can quicken this natural decline. The effects of low testosterone include erectile dysfunction and low libido, problems that can ruin relationships and cause depression.
Hypogonadism is a condition in which a male’s body does not produce an adequate amount of testosterone – the hormone invaluable to a man’s proper sexual functioning, well-being, and general masculinity. Hypogonadism can start at birth, but can also develop later on as a result of infection or injury. Some forms of the condition can be effectively treated with testosterone replacement therapy (more about this below).
Over time, a low level of testosterone can lead to depression, hair loss, osteoporosis, erectile dysfunction, and infertility. Symptoms of hypogonadism vary depending on a person’s age. While symptoms later in life are less damaging than during puberty, they can still be severe. Look for the following symptoms of hypogonadism:
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Decrease in rate of hair growth (body hair and facial hair)
- Trouble maintaining or achieving erection
- Gynecomatia AKA development of breast tissue
- Osteoporosis AKA loss of bone mass
- Mental and emotional issues such as decreased libido, hot flashes, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating
Visit a doctor if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Click here to learn about factors than increase your risk of developing hypogonadism.
Testosterone Supplementation & Replacement Therapy
A man’s life will improve when his T is restored to a normal level. He will experience changes including more energy, better mood, increased libido, and improved growth of body and facial hair. Testosterone also aids the body in muscle building and fat burning.
Over-the-counter T boosters and supplements
Although we recommend you visit a doctor to find out if you suffer from low T levels, you don’t necessarily need a prescription to start improving. There are many T boosters and supplements available at your local drugstore. Plus, with diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes many individuals can bring their T level back to normal without pills.
A Zinc deficiency is sometimes to blame for a low T level. Zinc is necessary for proper functioning of the immune system. It also helps break down food and aids the enzymes responsible for building proteins. Why a deficiency in this mineral leads to low T levels, we still don’t know. Keep in mind that if you already have enough Zinc in your diet, adding more of the mineral will do nothing to raise your T levels. The body does not store Zinc, so you need to ingest it every day. The recommended dose is 11mg. Foods high in Zinc include:
Be careful not to ingest too much Zinc. Toxicity can occur if more than 40mg are ingested each day.
Many T boosting supplements include DAA (D-aspartic acid; sometimes listed as D-asp). Not advised for use in men under the age of 21, DAA is an amino acid naturally produced by the human body. In regards to its effects on testosterone, DAA has been shown to instruct the brain to release LH (luteinizing hormone). LH travels directly to T-producing cells within the testicles called Leydig cells.
Most studies agree that Magnesium supplementation is an effective way to boost a man’s testosterone. But there are a lot of low-quality products out there, so be wary. Avoid products with the word “oxide.” Instead look for Magnesium Bisglycinate or Magnesium Citrate.
The proper daily dosage of Magnesium depends on a person’s weight. For example, for a 180lb guy looking to boost his T level, he should take 1-2 grams of a high-quality Magnesium supplement per day (this should be divided between 2-3 doses).
Magnesium also helps you sleep and lowers anxiety – two more factors that will aid in raising your T level. Remember to speak with your doctor before taking any kind of supplement and double check if you might be taking any other medications that may react badly with the supplement.
Vitamin D AKA the Sunshine Vitamin is known to increase longevity and improve cardiovascular health as well as help maintain healthy bones when taken with vitamin K2 and Calcium. Vitamin D, which is in fact not a vitamin at all, but a steroid hormone, is linked to testosterone.
This important vitamin helps regulate over 1,000 bodily functions including hormone secretion, fertility, and sexual function. Many of those functions are related to the endocrine system. Ergo, a lack of Vitamin D can lead to a reduction in testosterone levels.
A healthy man who takes a daily, low-dose Vitamin D3 supplement can expect to have up to 25% more T in his blood after one year. It’s also important to take a daily multivitamin and spend some time in the sun. Keep in mind that if you’re already getting enough D3, adding more won’t help.
Replacement Therapy for Low Testosterone
Replacement therapy should not be considered unless the effects of low testosterone are significantly impacting one’s quality of life. Speaking with your doctor is the only way to know for sure if testosterone therapy is the right choice for you.
Methods of delivery include injections, gels, and testosterone patches. Skin patches like Androderm are applied daily and worn on the arms or upper body. Other patches are more like tablets and are worn in the mouth. Striant patches stick to the gums and are applied above one of your incisors twice daily.
Gels, on the other hand, are absorbed directly through your skin and are applied once per day. Common brands are Axiron, AndroGel, Foresta, and Testim.
Some chose to have the hormone inserted directly into the muscles via an injection or implanted into the soft tissues in pellet form. In these cases, T is gradually absorbed into the bloodstream.
Oral pills are also available, but doctors worry about negative side effects involving the liver.
While therapy is a more serious and direct form of increasing T levels than supplementation, results vary by individual. There are little to no side effects when using supplements (unless you overdose), but there are quite a few effects to be concerned about when undergoing T replacement therapy, including:
- Itching or rash at application site
- Increased risk of stroke and heart attack
- Long-term risks are unknown
In addition, T therapy can also make the following conditions worse:
- Prostate cancer
- Sleep apnea
- Blood clots
- Congestive heart failure
Replacement therapy should be seen as an option only for men suffering serious symptoms of low T levels who have confirmed the situation with their doctor. To learn more about boosting you T level naturally, click here.