Natural Alternatives To Testosterone Supplementation
According to a new study reported in the Journal of American Medical Association (1), a spike in the consumption of testosterone supplementation has been observed in the past couple of decades. This spike is partly attributed to the increasing awareness in the general population regarding the complications of testosterone deficiency (also referred to as hypogonadism) and partly due to easy availability of over-the-counter testosterone formulations (such as low-dose testosterone creams, gels, pills etc.) Based on latest statistics, there are more than 5.6 million users of prescription testosterone supplementation only, with overall size of testosterone market has exceeded $1.6 billion in 2011.
But regardless of the efficacy and health benefits of normal testosterone levels, the hazards of most commercially available testosterone formulations cannot be ignored. Some common adverse effects of poorly regulated testosterone supplementation are:
- Elderly hypogonadal males are at high risk of developing cardiovascular dysfunction (such as myocardial infarction, heart failure and sudden cardiac death) with testosterone therapy as suggested by a new study reported in the International Journal of Endocrinology (2).
- Various clinical studies indicates that individuals on testosterone replacement therapy are 30-times more likely to develop deep venous thrombosis and formation of blood clots.
- There is some evidence that testosterone replacement aggravates the risk of prostate malignancy in users.
Some other adverse effects of testosterone replacement therapy are; sleep apnea, hormonal imbalance, hypercoagulability of blood (or polycythemia) to list a few.
What Are Some Natural Alternatives To Testosterone Supplementation?
As it is evident that despite all the claims of “male enhancement”, testosterone supplements are not safe at all. In order to boost up your testosterone levels go for alternate but healthy options. Such as:
Instead of consuming powerful hormonal analogues, it is most desirable to boost the natural production of testosterone and/or reduce the conversion or degradation into less potent hormonal breakdown products. Some recommended nutritional supplements include:
- Zinc, Quercetin and Grape Seed Extract: These nutrients do not directly increase your testosterone levels, but instead protect naturally occurring testosterone (3). For example, if you have belly fat, your testosterone levels may decline as a result of peripheral conversion to estrogen by fat cells under the influence of aromatase, an enzyme produced by belly fat. These nutrients help in reducing belly fat thus indirectly boosting your testosterone levels.
- DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone): It is a naturally occurring metabolite or hormone that is readily converted to testosterone in your body. Although, DHEA is available as OTC supplement but it should be used carefully as it can lower the good cholesterol levels (HDL). Avoid DHEA if you have a history of kidney or liver disease (4).
Lifestyle modification can also help in improving the testosterone levels; thereby minimizing the need of testosterone supplementation:
- Reduce stress: Stress lowers DHEA and testosterone levels. Try to reduce stress by engaging yourself in healthy activities or talk to a trustworthy friend or family member.
- Exercise: Aerobic training like swimming and cycling and weight lifting exercises helps in boosting testosterone levels. Besides direct effect of aerobic exercises on testosterone release as suggested by a study reported in the International Journal of Kinesiology & Sports Science (5) moderate physical activity also promotes weight loss (thus reducing the rate of peripheral conversion of testosterone to estrogen).
- Sleep well: Quality sleep also helps in raising total serum testosterone levels because testosterone is mainly secreted in the REM sleep (deep sleep).
- Healthy diet: Eat a balanced diet including nuts, colorful vegetables and fruits, green tea and soy food. Red meat and animal fats should be avoided as these agents are known to interfere with testosterone secretion and metabolism.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol: Alcohol and smoking reduces testosterone levels therefore, refrain from such toxic compounds.
- Watch your blood pressure and cholesterol: Keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in control because 40% of men with high blood pressure and high cholesterol have low testosterone levels. Metabolic syndrome also aggravates the risk of serious health issues in males with hypogonadism.
1. Vigen, R., O’Donnell, C. I., Barón, A. E., Grunwald, G. K., Maddox, T. M., Bradley, S. M., … & Rumsfeld, J. S. (2013). Association of testosterone therapy with mortality, myocardial infarction, and stroke in men with low testosterone levels. Jama, 310(17), 1829-1836.
2. Surampudi, P. N., Wang, C., & Swerdloff, R. (2012). Hypogonadism in the aging male diagnosis, potential benefits, and risks of testosterone replacement therapy. International journal of endocrinology, 2012.
3. Abdel-Kawi, S. H., Hashem, K. S., & Abd-Allah, S. (2016). Mechanism of diethylhexylphthalate (DEHP) induced testicular damage and of grape seed extract-induced protection in the rat. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 90, 64-75.
4. Liu, T. C., Lin, C. H., Huang, C. Y., Ivy, J. L., & Kuo, C. H. (2013). Effect of acute DHEA administration on free testosterone in middle-aged and young men following high-intensity interval training. European journal of applied physiology, 113(7), 1783-1792.
5. Rietjens, R., Stone, T. M., Montes, J., Young, J. C., Tandy, R. D., Utz, J. C., & Navalta, J. W. (2015). Moderate Intensity Resistance Training Significantly Elevates Testosterone following Upper Body and Lower Body Bouts When Total Volume is Held Constant. International Journal of Kinesiology & Sports Science, 3(4), 50.
6. Reynolds, A. C., Dorrian, J., Liu, P. Y., Van Dongen, H. P., Wittert, G. A., Harmer, L. J., & Banks, S. (2012). Impact of five nights of sleep restriction on glucose metabolism, leptin and testosterone in young adult men. PloS one, 7(7), e41218.