Testosterone is an important hormone in our bodies. It’s most commonly known for its role as a sex hormone – it’s the major sex hormone for people with male anatomy – but it also serves other functions in people of all genders.
For those with male anatomy, testosterone is responsible for a number of functions, including:
Testosterone levels can also have effects on mood. The body’s production of testosterone boosts greatly during puberty and then begins to decline around age 30.
Testosterone also plays a role in the health of those with female anatomy, including sexual health. It’s one of several androgens (male sex hormones) found in women, and it’s produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. It’s thought to have an impact on bone strength, ovarian function, and libido, though studies aren’t yet conclusive.
There’s a range of what constitutes a healthy testosterone level. What’s considered normal or optimal varies based on the individual. We’re all unique! For those with male anatomy, the normal range (if we’re measuring through the blood) is: 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) or 10 to 35 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L). For females, the range is: 15 to 70 ng/dL or 0.5 to 2.4 nmol/L. Functional practitioners may even have different optimal ranges than standard labs.
Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years as part of the Indian practice of Ayurvedic medicine. As an adaptogen, it is believed to help our bodies deal with stressors and is widely used for its stress-relieving properties. It turns out that it may even help with testosterone levels, too.
One study, for example, looked at the effects of taking 240 mg of a standardized ashwagandha extract once per day. A group of 60 adults were split randomly into two groups – one to take the ashwagandha and the other to take the placebo. Compared with the placebo, ashwagandha supplementation was connected to improvements in mood and stress, and it was also connected to increased testosterone levels in subjects with male anatomy. It’s important to note, though, that over time the testosterone increases weren’t significant compared to the placebo. What most likely happened in the study was a rebalancing of hormones by managing stress levels with the ashwagandha. Care/of offers an excellent 30-day supply of an ashwagandha supplement, harvested in India.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, which means that your body doesn’t make it on its own. Instead, you must get it from food, sun, or supplementation. When it comes to testosterone levels, vitamin D supplementation has shown some promising signs.
A study looked at the effect of vitamin D supplementation on sexual health for middle-aged men who were deficient in vitamin D. Subjects who showed a vitamin D deficiency were given an oral vitamin D dose of 600,000 international units (IU) (or 15,000 micrograms) monthly and then monitored on a quarterly basis for a year. The results showed that these men saw an increase in testosterone levels after supplementation. Another study reported that healthy men with deficient vitamin D levels who were supplemented with 83 mcg (3,332 IU) saw improvements in testosterone levels, suggesting that vitamin D supplementation might increase testosterone levels. If there is a vitamin D deficiency present, then vitamin D may be able to restore hormonal balance. However, additional research is needed to confirm this hypothesis. Care/of offers an excellent 30-day supply of easy-to-digest vitamin D.
Zinc plays an important role in your body’s reproductive functioning. Indeed, zinc deficiencies have been linked to low testosterone levels in men. So, can a zinc supplement help with this? Some recent studies seem to support this theory.
One study looked at the relationship between zinc levels and testosterone levels in men and found that zinc might play an important role in regulating testosterone levels. It also found that zinc supplementation boosted testosterone levels in older men. Another study showed that zinc supplementation may support testosterone levels in men who exercise and supplement with zinc sulfate at 3mg/kg/day for 4 weeks. If a zinc supplement interests you, you can check out Care/of’s zinc supplement. It’s consistent with a vegan diet!
You’re probably familiar with garlic’s distinct smell and taste. What you may not realize is that garlic’s collections of leaves, which can be divided into cloves, are used for health-promoting purposes, too.
Garlic consists of important bioactive components, including allicin, ajoene, enzymes, water, vitamin D, minerals, and flavonoids. Moreover, some animal studies have pointed to the possibility that garlic can increase testosterone levels. One study of mice found that garlic intake led to increases in testosterone secretion and that chronic garlic intake led to higher testosterone levels.
Another study – this one in rats – suggested that dietary supplementation with 0.8 g/100 g garlic increases testosterone levels in rats who were fed a high-protein diet. Although these studies were done on animal models, the initial findings are promising. Additional research is needed before conclusions are drawn.
Care/of offers a 30-day garlic supplement supply, manufactured in the United States, that supports heart health and supports the immune system through antioxidant properties.
Magnesium is a major mineral in the body. It’s found in more than 300 enzyme systems – systems that regulate a whole range of important biochemical functions in the body, including maintaining healthy blood pressure already in normal range, muscle and nerve function, and blood glucose control (already in normal range).
While major magnesium deficiencies are rare, you still may not be getting the recommended daily amount. This is especially so if you’re not getting a lot of leafy greens, beans, or nuts, or if you drink a lot of caffeine or alcohol, which can both deplete levels of magnesium in the body.
When it comes to testosterone levels, magnesium supplementation has shown some promising results. One study looked at the effects of magnesium supplementation on the testosterone levels of athletes and the testosterone levels of sedentary subjects. In both cases, magnesium supplementation was connected to an increase in testosterone levels. Another study found that a combined zinc-magnesium-B6 supplement also boosted testosterone levels.
Care/of’s magnesium supplement is derived from Irish sea water and has seventy trace minerals for easy absorption.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone produced naturally in your body’s adrenal gland. Your body uses cholesterol to create pregnenolone, which is then converted into DHEA. DHEA can then be turned into other hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. Your DHEA levels decrease during your lifespan, rising during your childhood years and then declining with age.
Some studies now indicate that DHEA supplementation can help boost testosterone levels, though findings are mixed. A meta-analysis of several studies found that DHEA supplementation led to significant increases in testosterone levels in older women. Another meta-analysis – this one comprising 42 different publications – showed that DHEA supplementation led to increased testosterone in every subgroup that was evaluated, with the most pronounced increases being found in female subjects.
One study looked at the effects of DHEA supplementation on athletes involved in high-intensity training, and found increases in testosterone levels. But another similar study of men involved in high-intensity training found no change in testosterone levels.
D-Aspartic Acid is a non-essential amino acid, which means our bodies can produce it even if we don’t get it from food. Aspartic acid helps every cell in the body function, and it plays a role in hormone production and release.
When it comes to testosterone support, a systematic review of existing studies showed inconsistent results. The review included 23 human studies and four human studies. The animal studies showed a correlation between increased levels of aspartic acid and increased testosterone levels. On the other hand, the results in human studies were inconclusive. Thus, it’s clear there’s a need for more and better-designed human trials for us to learn more.
Ginseng is sometimes called the “king of all herbs,” and has been shown to promote health in a variety of ways, including improvements to sex drive. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that it’s also been shown to be a testosterone-boosting supplement.
A study of rats showed that rats fed with 5% Panax ginseng for 60 days showed increased blood testosterone levels. Furthermore, a clinical study of 66 human participants found that the use of red ginseng boosted plasma free and total testosterone levels. Additional research is needed to confirm findings, draw conclusions, and understand the ideal dose and duration of supplementation.
Vitamin B6 is a soluble vitamin involved in over 100 enzyme reactions. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B6 is 1.3 mg and goes up to 1.9 mg for pregnant people.
An animal study took six-week-old rats and gave them diets free of vitamin B6 in order to create a deficiency. One result of this was that the rats showed a big reduction in testosterone circulating in plasma. What this means is that either vitamin B6 can lead to decreased testosterone production, or that low B6 levels lead to an increased metabolic clearance of testosterone.
Regardless, it’s clear that maintaining adequate levels is associated with more circulating testosterone in the body. More human trials are needed to determine the importance of vitamin B6 for human testosterone levels.
Fenugreek, also known as Trigonella foenum-graecum, is a popular herb used in traditional herbal medicine to support healthy libido, metabolic health, and even lactation support. However, the evidence behind these traditional uses is not necessarily robust or comes from small-scale trials.
Evidence suggesting that fenugreek effectively supports testosterone is mixed. A small trial involving 45 participants showed no significant effect on testosterone levels.
In a systematic review of six different studies encompassing 366 participants, results varied: four studies reported increased testosterone concentrations, while two studies showed no changes. It’s worth noting that the four studies that did show increased levels had inconsistent results. Some found increases in total testosterone, but not free testosterone, or vice versa. Notably, the strongest results were observed in healthy, younger individuals born with male anatomy, who are generally more responsive to testosterone. But another meta-analysis suggests that fenugreek can increase total testosterone in persons born male.
However, caution should be exercised when considering fenugreek as a testosterone support supplement for older individuals or those with existing health conditions.
Lastly, a random and interesting fact about fenugreek is that it contains a metabolite called sotolon, which can cause body secretions, including urine, to emit a maple syrup-like smell.
Ginger, also known as Zingiber officinale, has been studied for its potential benefits in the context of oxidative stress support. Ginger has antioxidant-like properties, which may contribute to maintaining healthy testosterone levels in persons born with male anatomy. But there is currently no direct evidence suggesting that ginger can directly support testosterone levels.
Although ginger is generally safe and has health-promoting properties, it is not specifically associated with benefits for testosterone or hormones.
Tribulus Terrestris is an Ayurvedic herb that is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). When it comes to its impact on testosterone levels, it has been found to increase testosterone concentration in animal research. However, these findings are not translatable to humans. Tribulus is considered, at best, inconclusive in human testosterone increases.
A systematic review examining the effects of Tribulus Terrestris on testosterone levels in humans concluded that it does not significantly increase testosterone. Instead, the herb's impacts typically involve different mechanisms that may have an indirect effect on testosterone in some studies, but not in the majority of research.
A small randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled study involving 45 postmenopausal individuals indicated that Tribulus Terrestris could produce a significant increase in free and total testosterone. But this study primarily focused on libido in individuals with dysfunction. To determine the efficacy of this, larger-scale trials would need to be conducted.
Tongkat Ali has gained attention for its potential testosterone-boosting properties. Yet most of the research conducted on this herb has been in animals. The information available on the internet is often based on traditional herbal views and lore, lacking strong evidence or human trials.
Animal research suggests that Tongkat Ali may support testosterone production indirectly by influencing androgen precursors such as pregnenolone and DHEA, as well as luteinizing hormone (LH). Of course, the proposed mechanisms and effects in humans require further investigation.
A systematic review and meta-analysis that included five studies and 232 participants found that Tongkat Ali supplementation led to testosterone increases when taken at doses ranging from 100-600 mg for 2-12 weeks, with one study lasting up to 6 months. Granted, these effects were observed primarily in individuals born with male anatomy who had below-normal testosterone levels. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the studies included in the review had significant publication bias or methodological issues, which may affect the reliability of the conclusions. Furthermore, conflicts of interest were present in many of the studies, involving both funding sources and researchers.
Overall, the current evidence suggests that this herb should be viewed with caution as far as any potential benefits, but clearly more research is warranted.
There are also other ways to boost your testosterone levels without taking supplements. Some natural testosterone boosters include simple lifestyle changes:
Testosterone levels naturally fall with age. But, there are a few variables that can cause these levels to decline even quicker. Let’s take a look at some of the common causes, as well as some signs and symptoms to look out for.
Testosterone naturally decreases with age. This decline typically begins around the age of 35, although it can vary depending on genetics, lifestyle, and other health factors.
Low testosterone levels on a lab test are not always indicative of a problem. Testosterone levels can vary widely due to a range of factors, and it is usually only considered an issue if there are symptoms associated with low levels.
Several factors can contribute to low testosterone levels. Hormone changes from thyroid conditions, physical conditions that affect the reproductive organs, and chronic medical conditions can all play a part. These conditions can impact the body's ability to produce or regulate testosterone effectively.
But there are some lifestyle factors to consider, too. Lack of exercise, lack of sleep, inadequate nutrients, and high stress can all contribute to decreased testosterone levels.
It’s important to understand the distinction between total testosterone and free testosterone, especially if you are going to be testing your levels. Total testosterone refers to the overall amount of testosterone in the body, much of which is bound to either albumin or sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). Only a small percentage, approximately 5% or less, is considered "free" testosterone, meaning it is not bound. Interestingly, free testosterone tends to decline at a faster rate compared to total testosterone.
Low testosterone levels mostly affects persons born male who are older. If you were born with male anatomy and you’re concerned about low testosterone levels, there are some signs to watch out for, including:
Persons born with female anatomy tend to have more symptoms from high, not low, testosterone. However, signs of low testosterone in those with female anatomy can include low libido, poor concentration, and occasionally irritable moods.
If low levels are a concern for you, check with a doctor about measuring your levels. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to address low levels, including diet, supplements, and slight lifestyle adjustments.
It’s always a good idea to be open and frank with your doctor about your health concerns. Medical professionals can do blood work and figure out whether there’s a need to boost your testosterone levels. From there, you can discuss next steps.
Healthy testosterone levels are important for overall health and sexual wellness. There are various vitamins, supplements, and herbs that may support testosterone production. Ashwagandha, vitamin D, zinc, garlic, magnesium, DHEA, Malaysian ginseng, vitamin B6, and fenugreek are among the supplements that have shown potential benefits for testosterone levels, although the evidence may vary in terms of effectiveness and population responsiveness.
Low testosterone can be caused by a number of components, such as genetics, medical conditions, and even lifestyle. If you experience symptoms of low testosterone, consulting with a doctor and discussing your options is recommended.