Fatigue, hormonal imbalances, and decreased energy can take a toll on your overall well-being in both men and women. The leading causes of this can include; poor dietary choices, lack of exercise, excessive stress, and insufficient sleep can all contribute to hormonal imbalances or reduction in sex hormones.
To address these issues, it's crucial to take proactive steps and restore your hormones to their prime. Smart supplementation can also play a pivotal role in this journey.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a critical mineral associated with relaxation, recovery, and cortisol reduction. Lowering cortisol levels often leads to increased testosterone production. A study conducted by Cinar and colleagues showed that athletes who consumed high-quality magnesium witnessed a remarkable 26% rise in free testosterone at rest and an 18% increase after a shuttle run test (1)
- Zinc: Referred to as the "testosterone mineral," zinc plays a role in over 300 daily biochemical processes in the body. Insufficient zinc intake can impact hormone levels. For instance, a study by Prasad et al. showed that young men who lacked zinc in their diet for five months experienced a 50% drop in testosterone. Conversely, researchers gave older men with low testosterone additional zinc and saw a 100% increase in testosterone. Adequate zinc intake may also reduce the conversion of testosterone to estrogen by inhibiting aromatase. (2)
- Boron: Boron is anything but boring. Studies have demonstrated that a mere 10mg of boron for seven days increased testosterone levels by an impressive 28.3% in young males. Another study by Naghii et al. with 6mg of boron for 60 days showcased substantial improvements in hormonal markers, including a 56% increase in DHEA and a 29.5% surge in free testosterone. Boron supplements can also reduce SHBG, a protein that binds sex hormones, potentially hindering their benefits. (3)
- Arginine, Ornithine, and Glutamine: These amino acids are believed to boost testosterone and growth hormone levels. Arginine, in particular, enhances blood flow to the testes and penis, delivering vital nutrients for testosterone production and erectile function. A study published in the 'Journal of Strength & Conditioning' found that arginine supplementation increased growth hormone by 100-300%. Moreover, a study in the 'Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism' showed that arginine can reduce cortisol, which inhibits testosterone production. Furthermore, a study where individuals consumed just 2g of Glutamine saw a 78% increase in growth hormone levels. Another study gave Ornithine to participants 30 minutes after exercise and found a greater peak in growth hormone levels. (4)
- Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia): This adaptogenic root supports hormone balance and has been clinically proven to increase libido, inhibit SHBG, lower estrogen, enhance athletic performance, and reduce cortisol. A study by Ismail et al. demonstrated Tongkat Ali's ability to reduce aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. (5)
- Fenugreek (Fenusides): Native to India and North Africa, fenugreek contains steroidal saponins known as fenusides. Studies have shown that it can support the testosterone to estrogen ratio by reducing aromatase. In a 12-week study by Steels et al., men consuming 500mg of fenugreek experienced a significant 46% increase in testosterone levels, along with improved mood, energy, libido, and sperm count. (6)
- Cistanche: This traditional Chinese herb, known as the legend of Genghis Khan, is said to be such a potent aphrodisiac that it led to Genghis Khan's insatiable libido, resulting in 8% of the Asian population being his descendants. The science also supports this by increasing testosterone through the release of steroidogenic enzymes (Wang et al. 2015), shortening the time taken to get an erection, prolonging erectile duration (Gu et al. 2017), and increasing sperm count by 230% and motility (swimming ability) by 140%. Cistanche is a true adaptogen that helps protect the reproductive organs from toxic exposure (BPA, etc.), leading to healthy, happy hormones. (7)
It's important to know that these nutrients often have synergistic benefits. The combination is better than the ingredients alone. It might be tempting to jump on Tongkat Ali or Cistanche because of their individual benefits, but having adequate micronutrients like Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin B5, Vitamin D, and Boron means you are now capable of producing optimal levels of sex hormones. Using Tongkat Ali or Cistanche alone is like having the keys to a high-powered car without any fuel. Make sure you fuel up to unleash your inner alpha.
(1) Cinar, V., Polat, Y., Baltaci, A. K., & Mogulkoc, R. (2011). Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Biological Trace Element Research, 140(1), 18-23.
(2) Prasad, A. S., Mantzoros, C. S., Beck, F. W., Hess, J. W., & Brewer, G. J. (1996). Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults. Nutrition, 12(5), 344-348.
(3) Naghii, M. R., Mofid, M., Asgari, A. R., Hedayati, M., & Daneshpour, M. S. (2011). Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, 25(1), 54-58.
(4) Collier, S. R., Casey, D. P., & Kanaley, J. A. (2005). Growth hormone responses to varying doses of oral arginine. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 90(1), 203-206.
(5) Ismail, S. B., Wan Mohammad, W. M. Z., George, A., Nik Hussain, N. H., & Musthapa Kamal, Z. M. (2012). Randomized clinical trial on the use of Tongkat Ali extract for the improvement of quality of life and sexual well-being in men. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.
(6) Steels, E., Rao, A., & Vitetta, L. (2011). Physiological aspects of male libido enhanced by standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum extract and mineral formulation. Phytotherapy Research, 25(9), 1294-1300.
(7) Wang, R., Liu, Y., & Zhang, L. (2015). Steroidogenic enzymes in the synthesis of testosterone in Leydig cells: the role of Cistanche tubulosa glycosides. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015; Gu, Y., Liu, Y., & Wang, X. (2017). Effects of Cistanche tubulosa glycosides on sexual behavior in exhausted rats. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 14(4), 487-495.
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 healthcare 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.