First, let’s talk a little bit about testosterone and its function.
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men. It is responsible for male physical characteristics. Although it is considered a “male” sex hormone, it is present in both men and women.
It is mainly produced by endocrine tissues in the testicles. It is also made by the adrenal glands in both females and males and, in small amounts, by the ovaries in females.
In males, testosterone stimulates the development of secondary sex characteristics, including enlargement of the penis, growth of body hair, muscle development, and a deepening voice. It is present in large amounts in males during puberty and in adult males to regulate the sex drive and maintain muscle mass. In women, testosterone is converted to estradiol, the primary sex hormone in females.
Testosterone levels are diurnal, peaking in the early morning hours, with the lowest levels in the evening. Levels also increase after exercise and also decrease with age.
Six Ways To Increase Testosterone Naturally
- Sleep and testosterone are interconnected. Your testosterone levels increase as you sleep and decrease the longer you’re awake. The highest testosterone levels occur during REM sleep, the period late in the cycle that helps replenish the body and mind. That is why it doesn’t take long for poor sleep to derail your testosterone production. One study showed that after eight days of 5.5 hours of sleep or less each night, participants showed a 10-15% decrease in testosterone production on average. To improve your sleep, make sure you keep your bedroom dark, cold, quiet, and comfortable. Additionally, make sure you remove distractions from the bedroom. Stimulation from using computers, smartphones, and gaming devices can impair your body’s ability to transition into sleep.
- Exercise and strength training can induce growth hormone and testosterone release, regardless of age. A study showed that obese men who did regular exercise increased testosterone levels more than losing weight with calorie restriction.
- Ashwagandha is a herb regularly used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote youthful vigor, enhance muscle strength and endurance, and promote overall health. One study looked at the effects of ashwagandha in overweight men with mild fatigue. After eight weeks of taking ashwagandha, there was a 14.7% increase in testosterone. Another study showed that taking ashwagandha was associated with increased testosterone levels, and they speculate it is due to its stress-relieving effects.
- Stress management is key to maintaining adequate testosterone levels. When you experience stressful events, it can cause changes in your testosterone levels. When you are dealing with psychological stress, it can cause your serum testosterone levels to decrease. This is because cortisol, the primary stress hormone released from the adrenal cortex in a stressful situation, suppresses testosterone formation. Stress management starts with identifying the source of your stress. To determine your sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses.
- Low circulating vitamin D levels are associated with lower total testosterone levels. Researchers found that this vitamin can also help maintain optimal testosterone levels. In one study, blood samples were taken from 800 middle-aged men. The results showed that 68% of them had low vitamin D levels. However, only 11% of the deficient participants in vitamin D were supplemented with vitamin D to correct the deficiency. The men who did not supplement with vitamin D continue to have low testosterone levels, while those who took the supplement had higher testosterone levels. Follow up with your doctor to ask about having your levels checked.
- Remove environmental toxins like xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are human-made chemicals that mimic the way estrogen works within the body. When men are exposed to too much of this estrogen-imitating chemical, testosterone levels drop significantly. The issue with this is that they are found everywhere – in personal hygiene products, tap water, plastic food containers, and receipt paper. To avoid being exposed, you can buy organic fruits and vegetables, avoid storing food and drinks in plastic containers, say no to receipts, use a water filter, and use personal hygiene products with clean ingredients.
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- Chen C, Zhai H, Cheng J, et al. Causal Link Between Vitamin D and Total Testosterone in Men: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2019;104(8):3148-3156. doi:10.1210/jc.2018-01874
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