Trying to boost Testosterone naturally is not easy. To be honest you are unlikely to see or feel the results of synthetic anabolic steroids no matter what product you use. However, you also won’t get the harmful and often permanent side effects and hormone dysregulation that can come from the use of anabolic steroids.
In this article, we are going to look at the PROVEN effective natural ways to optimize your inner ALPHA and favourably support your natural anabolic (muscle building) hormones.
Don’t underestimate the power of natural ingredients. Since minimizing catabolic (muscle destroying) hormones and maximizing your endogenous (internally produced) anabolic hormones can lead to some very impressive benefits…
- Enhanced Muscle Recovery
- Elevated Mood
- Improved Performance
- Increased Strength
- Boosted Libido
- Increased Nitric Oxide
There are 3 classes of compounds in the natural hormone optimisation space.
- Ones that are clinically proven to work.
- Ones that show promise.
- Ones that do nothing.
In this article we want to provide you the low hanging fruit. So we are going to focus on the proven ingredients you need to be capable of producing sex hormones and the ones that will help move the needle in that favourable direction.
Let’s start with the not so sexy Vitamins and Minerals that are absolutely essential to produce sex hormones…
- Magnesium: This super mineral is critically involved in relaxation, rest, recovery and reducing cortisol (which can drag down testosterone). Many studies have been published showing the benefits of magnesium supplementation in active individuals for performance improvements and recovery. In fact, one study in Tae Kwon Do athletes showed an increase of free testosterone by 26% at rest and 18% after a shuttle run test when using quality magnesium1.
In addition to supporting testosterone production directly through Leydig cell health, magnesium also helps improve sleep quality which may dramatically enhance testosterone and growth hormone secretion and lower cortisol.
- Zinc: This macro mineral is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions and processes in the human body every day. So, it’s no surprise that when you do not get enough Zinc your hormones and health can suffer.
One study published in 1996 found that young men who avoided zinc in their diet for 5 months saw an average drop of testosterone by 50%2. Conversely, researchers gave older men who had low testosterone extra zinc and saw 100% increase in testosterone2. Let that sink in for just a moment!
Studies have also shown that low zinc leads to an increase in estrogen receptors (more responsive to estrogen) and a decrease in testosterone receptors (less responsive to testosterone).
Low zinc may increase the enzyme aromatase that increases the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. With more circulating estrogen this might explain why the body upregulates estrogen receptors2.
Zinc supplementation has also been linked to an increase in growth hormone which may result in greater lean muscle although this still needs be measured.
- Vitamin D: Is considered the sunlight vitamin. The truth is, it’s more a hormone or pre-hormone and can profoundly impact Testosterone and more importantly free testosterone.
In a cross-sectional study assessing correlations between androgens (testosterone) and Vitamin D, it was noted that Vitamin D was positively associated with androgen status (higher testosterone and lower Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)) even after BMI, smoking, alcohol, medication and diabetes were controlled for3.
SHBG binds up testosterone and prevents it being beneficial. Therefore, lowering SHBG means not only more testosterone but more Free-Testosterone. This is the form we want to help build muscle, burn fat, increase strength and boost libido3.
Supplementation of Vitamin D daily for a year that was able to normalize serum Vitamin D (increase above 50nmol/L) noted improvements in testosterone (+25.2%), bioactive testosterone (+19%), and free testosterone (+20.2%) in men that were at the low-end of normal3.
- Boron: There is nothing boring about Boron. In fact, a recent study gave healthy young males (18 -29 yrs) 10mg of boron for 7 days. At the end of this short study their testosterone levels increased a whopping 28.3%4.
In another study participants received 6mg of boron for 60 days and the researchers saw many improvements in hormonal markers. 1) Vitamin D levels increased 19.6% which may also contribute to hormonal health. 2) DHEA increased an incredible 56% and 3) Free testosterone went up a whopping 29.5%4.
Boron supplementation has also been found to reduce SHBG and reduce aromatase resulting in lower estrogen levels. In the first study mentioned above (7 days) the participants estrogen levels dropped a staggering 39%4.
These results are sure to provide a favourable hormonal position for muscle building, libido and performance.
- (Pantothenic Acid): All B Vitamins are helpful co-factors in the metabolism of peptides, enzymes and hormones in the human body. This B vitamin (B5) helps with the production of cholesterol. Cholesterol is the backbone of testosterone and other sex hormones. It is also involved in the formation of many neurotransmitters which keep your brain and body functioning at optimal levels.
B5 is known to help calm the central nervous system therefore regulating hormones which control appetite, energy, mood and more.
The Truth isn’t sexy!
For most people reading this article there is nothing sexy or exciting about these ingredients but the truth is they just work. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are becoming more common as our food fails to provide the nourishment it once did, and our lifestyle increases in stress and toxicity which depletes vitamins and minerals further.
Finding a supplement that combines some of or all the above ingredients will go a long way towards supporting optimal hormone balance, boosting energy, reducing fatigue and improving performance in and out of the gym.
Now let’s talk about 5 cool herbs that show a lot of promise and even have some pretty compelling research supporting their hormonal optimizing benefits.
- Ashwagandha : In Ayurveda medicine (the oldest medicine system known to humans) Ashwagandha is at the top of the pecking order and is considered the KING of herbs.
It has mainly been used as an adaptogen helping to reduce stress and cortisol. It’s widely known that cortisol is antagonistic (the nemesis or opposite) to testosterone. So, when cortisol is high, testosterone is low. Ashwagandha has the ability to regulate cortisol which may help natural testosterone rise.
In one study using a 10:1 extract ratio the supplemental group saw a reduction of cortisol by 32% and a 15.3% increase in testosterone5.
In another study 57 healthy men between the ages of 18 – 64 were given Ashwagandha or a placebo. The ashwagandha group saw an average 18.7% increase in Testosterone and researchers also noticed greater increases in muscle recovery and fat loss than the placebo group6.
Ashwagandha has also been shown to improve strength (force output) by as much as 21.5% in untrained individuals over placebo. This is exciting for those looking to improve muscle mass and power6.
In men with low fertility and low libido due to stress. Ashwagandha has been shown to increase spermatogenesis (sperm production) and sperm motility (swimming ability) as well as increase messenger hormones Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). This means Ashwagandha may be working as an antioxidant in the sex organs and improving pituitary function for healthier long-term hormone optimisation.
- Shilajit: is another ancient ayurvedic medicine comprised of composted plant matter that is super-rich in over 85 different micro minerals, fulvic acid and humic acid which has been shown to support testosterone production, enhance nutrient absorption, lower inflammation, Increase energy (ATP) and much more.
In a well-designed 2010 study using 200mg of shilajit 35 male subjects saw an average increase of serum testosterone by 29.0%7. This study also showed an increase in sperm production and motility (health of the sperm) as well as a statistically significant increase in follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) which is a precursor to testosterone production.
In another more recent study researchers gave shilajit to healthy men aged 45 – 55 and saw an increase in Free Testosterone of 19.1% and DHEA 31.3%. These are remarkable results and shows that supporting nutrient needs is critically important for supporting hormonal function.
- Tongkat Ali (Longjack): (SHBG), lower Estrogen, support athletic performance and reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Otherwise known as Eurycoma Longifolia is a Malaysian Ginseng that works as an adaptogen to help support hormone balance. It has been clinically proven to increase libido and sexual function, inhibit Sex Hormone Binding Globulin
Traditionally, Tongkat Ali roots have been used for centuries in Malaysia and Southeast Asia as an aphrodisiac for loss of sexual desire and impotence. It is also used to treat a range of ailments including post-partum depression, malaria, high blood pressure, and fatigue. Tongkat ali has been referred to as “Malaysian Viagra”.
Research has shown Tongkat Ali can reduce aromatase which is an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. Through this pathway Tongkat Ali may have estrogen lowering effects especially in men or women that are prone to high levels of estrogen.
- Fenugreek (Fenusides): is native to India and north Africa. It’s grown and consumed around the world and can be standardised to contain fenusides or 4-hydroxy iso-leucine. The Fenusides (steroidal saponins) have been shown to help support the testosterone to estrogen ratio by reducing aromatase (an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen).
A 12-week study in 50 men consuming 500mg of fenugreek experienced significant improvements in testosterone levels8.
The study found that testosterone increased by up to 46% in an impressive 90% of the participants. What’s more, the fenugreek supplement group experienced improvements in mood, energy, libido, and sperm count8.
- Spilanthes Acmella (Spilanthol): Is another Ayurvedic herb used throughout history as an analgesic (pain reducer) and aphrodisiac (libido enhancer). The patented Spilanthes (SA3X) standardised to no less than 3.5% Spilantol may produce an increase in LH (Luteinizing Hormone), FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and Testosterone.
In addition, a recent 2015 study showed an increase in sexual desire, ejaculation rate and sexual consistency.
Another thing to consider with the enhanced sexual performance characteristics is that Spilanthes does exert a very potent nitric oxide (blood flow enhancing) benefit. In fact, in one study it was half as effective as Viagra.
This means Spilanthes may be great for the athletes prior to exercise or performance physically or sexually.
It’s safe to say there are some very well documented benefits to be had from supporting your hormone health with the correct Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs, Fatty Acids and Amino Acids. These ingredients listed show the most robust clinical data and future promise.
However, here are 10 other things you can do if you want to optimize your hormone levels.
- Reduce Stress
- Reduce Alcohol Consumption
- Stop Smoking
- Reduce Sugar Intake
- Reduce Processed Foods
- Get Better Sleep
- Exercise Regularly
- Eat Healthy Fats
- Eat Quality Protein
- Limit Artificial Sweeteners, Colours and Flavours
Now you have all the knowledge needed to get the results you are looking for. Be sure to check your labels carefully and make sure you are buying ingredients in formulas from a trusted brand that are of high quality and not proprietary blended. Proprietary (Prop) blending prevents you knowing the doses you are consuming and making educated decisions about the formula.
Disclaimer: The above article is merely a guide and is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified health care provider before changing your supplement, training or nutritional strategy. Supplementation should not be attempted by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone on prescription medication or children under the age of 15 unless advised by your qualified health care provider
1Rocha, F.P.S., 2017. Determination of Aerobic and Anaerobic Power in Elite Taekwondo Athletes Through a Sport Specific Test (Doctoral dissertation, Universidade da Beira Interior (Portugal)).
2Walsh, C.T., Sandstead, H.H., Prasad, A.D.S., Newberne, P.M. and Fraker, P.J., 1994. Zinc: health effects and research priorities for the 1990s. Environmental health perspectives, 102(suppl 2), pp.5-46.
3Ciccone, I.M., Costa, E.M., Pariz, J.R., Teixeira, T.A., Drevet, J.R., Gharagozloo, P., Aitken, R.J. and Hallak, J., 2021. Serum vitamin D content is associated with semen parameters and serum testosterone levels in men. Asian journal of andrology, 23(1), p.52.
4Tabelin, C.B., Igarashi, T., Villacorte-Tabelin, M., Park, I., Opiso, E.M., Ito, M. and Hiroyoshi, N., 2018. Arsenic, selenium, boron, lead, cadmium, copper, and zinc in naturally contaminated rocks: A review of their sources, modes of enrichment, mechanisms of release, and mitigation strategies. Science of the Total Environment, 645, pp.1522-1553.
5Araujo, A.B., Dixon, J.M., Suarez, E.A., Murad, M.H., Guey, L.T. and Wittert, G.A., 2011. Endogenous testosterone and mortality in men: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 96(10), pp.3007-3019.
6Mamidi, P. and Thakar, A.B., 2011. Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera Dunal. Linn.) in the management of psychogenic erectile dysfunction. Ayu, 32(3), p.322.
7Dahlinghaus, M., Berberet, D., Rehfeld, J., Nair, S., Smith, D., Barnes, S.L., Dai, B., Nair, R., Bagchi, D. and Swaroop, A., 2018. Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) Conference and Expo. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15(1), p.A1.
8Blechman, S., THE BEST NATURAL TESTOSTERONE SUPPLEMENTS.