Quick Answer: Best Testosterone Supplements

  1. Vitamin D3
  2. Zinc
  3. Magnesium
  4. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  5. Fenugreek
  6. DHEA
  7. D-Aspartic Acid (DAA)
  8. Kapikachhu (Mucuna pruriens)
  9. Boron
  10. Coleus forskohlii
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As age advances, men commonly witness changes in their sexual response. This is often linked to the fluctuations in the serum testosterone levels.

A gradual decline in testosterone levels is a part of the aging process, which is commonly observed in the mid-30s.

This is known as late-onset hypogonadism or age-related hypogonadism. [1][2]

Reduced testosterone levels, if unattended, will have a negative impact on male fertility.

Causes and Symptoms of Hypogonadism

Major causes of hypogonadism or reduced testosterone levels [3] include:

  • Normal aging
  • Emotional stress
  • Physical illness
  • Medications
  • Obesity

Symptoms of Hypogonadism

Reduced testosterone levels are associated with multiple symptoms. [4]

Addressing these symptoms in their earlier stages is paramount, as testosterone is a part of various bodily functions. [5]

Key symptoms of low testosterone levels are:

Critical symptoms:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Reduction in testicle size
  • Lowered libido
  • Low semen volume
  • Low sperm count
  • Low bone density
  • Hair loss

Additional symptoms:

  • Gynecomastia
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Increased body fat
  • Disturbed sleep patterns and insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced cognitive functions

Addressing Age-Related Hypogonadism

Opting for an active lifestyle along with a healthy diet and supplements that positively impact the testosterone levels is one of the safest and effective ways to address hypogonadism.

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can also be used to address low testosterone levels.

However, TRT is associated with a few side effects [6] and is considered as an option in selected patients only. [7] [8] [9]

Best Testosterone Supplements

A good testosterone supplement is one that helps in sustaining healthy testosterone levels and supporting the bodily functions that involve this hormone.

Only a few supplements like vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc are extensively proven to improve the testosterone levels.

Then, there are also a few promising herbal supplements that may help in ameliorating the condition and improving the testosterone levels.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is touted as one of the most powerful testosterone boosters. Vitamin D3 deficiency leads to sexual disturbances, especially erectile dysfunction. [10] [11]

Vitamin D3 supplementation improves sexual health and also aid in restoring the metabolic functions that take place in the presence of testosterone hormone.

Benefit Confidence: High

Mechanism: Multiple studies have shown that vitamin D has an independent association with total testosterone and free testosterone.

The testicular tissues have receptors for vitamin D, which implies – vitamin D has a role in testosterone production. [12]

Clinical Evidence: A study in 2011 found that individuals who received 3332 IU of vitamin D daily for 12 months had increased levels of total testosterone, bioactive testosterone, and free testosterone levels in the serum. [13]

In 2017, another study reported that one-year vitamin D supplementation improved serum testosterone levels and erectile functions in middle-aged men.

Estradiol levels were decreased too. [14]

In 2018, a clinical trial found that higher levels of 25(OH) vitamin D was linked to elevated levels of total testosterone, which in turn was associated with improved erectile functions.[15]

Recommended Intake: Taking 2000 – 3000 IU (50- 75mcg) of vitamin D3 for 12 months or just during the darker or winter months will help in restoring the testosterone levels.

Spending a few minutes in the sunlight before 10 am and after 4 pm every day can help in increasing the testosterone levels naturally.

Precautions: High doses of vitamin D3 can be toxic; thus, it is safer to not consume more than what is recommended.

Zinc

Zinc is a potent antioxidant, and its supplementation increases the serum levels of total and free testosterone. Zinc also reduces estrogen production in men.

Benefit Confidence: High

Mechanism: Zinc serves as a hormone balancer, and restores the free testosterone levels in the blood.

It also acts on the enzyme 5α reductase, which is involved in testosterone conversion. [16] [17]

Clinical Evidence: Scientific studies have shown that zinc deficiency leads to low testosterone levels and reduced seminal volume. [18]

A clinical trial conducted on men belonging to various age groups found that zinc modulates the levels of free testosterone in the serum. [19]

One study in 2010 found that a 6-week supplementation of 250mg/day zinc sulphate increased the levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone significantly. [20]

Recommended Intake:

  • For individuals with a sedentary lifestyle: 10 – 20mg/day
  • For vegetarians and vegans with a sedentary lifestyle: 15 – 25mg/day
  • For individuals with an active lifestyle and athletes: 25 – 30mg/day

Precautions: Zinc has to be taken along with the meals, as it triggers nausea. It is also reported to interact with antibiotics of tetracycline and quinone classes.

Avoid taking zinc, calcium, iron, and magnesium in combination, as these compete for absorption, when in high concentration.

Magnesium

Magnesium impacts the testosterone levels by increasing its bioavailability in the body.

It preserves the testosterone levels along with its anabolic effects such as muscle growth and improved bone mineral density.

Benefit Confidence: High

Mechanism: Magnesium increases the levels of free testosterone by reducing the affinity of SHBG to the testosterone molecules.

Magnesium binds to SHBG in a nonspecific mode, which in turn enhances the bioavailability of testosterone. [21]

Clinical Evidence: A clinical study in 2011 reported that a 4 week-supplementation of 10mg/kg/day magnesium increased the levels of total testosterone and free testosterone in both sedentary individuals and athletes.

However, the increases were more pronounced in the athletes. [22]

Magnesium is studied to increase the levels of total testosterone levels along with insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in older men. [23]

Recommended Intake: The standard dose ranges from 200-350mg of elemental magnesium once a day preferably before bed.

Precautions: Magnesium interacts with antibiotics such as doxycycline and ciprofloxacin, and therefore, these drugs and magnesium must be taken at least 6 hours apart.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha improves the testosterone levels by reducing the oxidative stress in healthy and infertile men.

Therefore, it could be an ideal supplement to address stress-induced infertility in men. [24]

Benefit Confidence: Moderate

Mechanism: Ashwagandha increases the serum levels of luteinizing hormone and testosterone, and thereby restores the hormone imbalance.

Ashwagandha also addresses high cortisol levels, which are associated with reduced testosterone levels. [25]

Clinical Evidence: A study in 2010 found that a 3-month supplementation of 5 g ashwagandha root powder every day with milk increased the testosterone levels significantly in infertile men. [26]

In 2019, a study reported that an 8-week intake of standardized ashwagandha extract improved the levels of DHEAS and testosterone in the serum. [27]

Recommended Intake: Take 5g of Ashwagandha root extract every day for three months.

Precautions: Ashwagandha interacts with various prescription drugs. Therefore, it is better for individuals with known medical conditions to avoid ashwagandha supplements.

Fenugreek

Scientific studies have shown that fenugreek supplements trigger testosterone production and address symptoms associated with reduced testosterone levels like low libido and reduced sperm quality.

Benefit Confidence: Moderate

Mechanism: Fenugreek’s testosterone boosting abilities come from a special class of saponins known as furostanolic saponins – protodioscin and diosgenin. [28]

Clinical Evidence: An 8-week study carried out on 49 resistance trained individuals in 2010 found that daily supplementation of fenugreek increased testosterone levels.

Fenugreek stimulated fat loss and enhanced muscle strength. [29]

In 2016, a trial that involved 120 middle- to old-aged men found that consuming 600mg of fenugreek seed extract for 12 weeks improved the testosterone levels and sexual function without any side effects. [30]

Recommended Intake: Taking 500-600mg of fenugreek extract daily improves the testosterone levels.

Precautions: Individuals with hypoglycemia should avoid fenugreek supplements as these lower the blood glucose levels.

DHEA

DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone is a naturally-occurring hormone that increases the levels of free testosterone in the serum. It addresses multiple symptoms of male infertility.

Benefit Confidence: Low

Mechanism: DHEA acts as a precursor for testosterone and estradiol production. It is more effective in middle-aged men than young men. [31]

Clinical Evidence: A study in 2013 found that supplementation of 50mg DHEA improved the free testosterone levels in middle-aged men. [32]

A meta-analysis in 2013 has also shown that supplementation of DHEA increases androgen levels in older men. [33]

Recommended Intake: Consume 25-50mg of DHEA daily along with a meal.

Precautions: According to the studies, DHEA reduces good cholesterol levels. It is a supplement that offers mixed results along with many side effects and multiple drug interactions.

DHEA supplements should always be taken under the supervision of a health professional.

D-Aspartic Acid (DAA)

A few studies have shown that D-aspartic acid increases testosterone levels.

It is also reported to improve other parameters of male fertility such as sperm count, sperm motility, and semen quantity. [34]

Benefit Confidence: Low

Mechanism: DAA stimulates LH secretion and increases cAMP production in the brain, which in turn stimulate testosterone production. [35]

It is also present in Leydig cells where it induces testosterone synthesis. [36] [37]

Clinical Evidence: Both animal studies and a human trial conducted on DAA have concluded that this supplement enhances the release of testosterone and luteinizing hormone. [38]

Recommended Intake: Take 2.5-3g of DAA once a day.

Precautions: Studies have shown mixed results for DAA’s impact on testosterone levels. 3g of DAA is found to be effective in some, and ineffective in some cases.

Higher doses of up to 6g have also exhibited ambiguous results. Therefore, it is safe to discuss with a health professional before using DAA for low testosterone levels.

Kapikachhu (Mucuna pruriens)

Human trials and animal studies have shown that mucuna improves testosterone levels in infertile males. [39]

Benefit Confidence: Low

Mechanism: The mechanism of action involves the levodopa content of mucuna.

The serum dopamine, synthesized from levodopa, suppresses the levels of prolactin hormone that causes reduced libido and testosterone levels.

Clinical Evidence: In a study conducted on infertile men, it was found that consuming 5g of mucuna seed powder every day with milk for 3 months led to increased testosterone levels. [40]

Recommended Intake: Take 5g of mucuna seed powder daily with milk for 3 months.

Precautions: Individuals on L-dopa medication should avoid mucuna supplements.

Boron

Boron may increase the testosterone levels just like zinc and magnesium.

It is also reported to block the production of excess estrogen, and thereby aid in increasing the muscle and bone strength.

Benefit Confidence: Low

Mechanism: Boron supplementation increases the levels of free testosterone in the blood.

It also blocks sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), whose function is to block testosterone’s activity by binding to it. [41]

Clinical Evidence: Supplementation of 10mg of boron for 6 days was found to increase the free testosterone levels, and reduce the estrogen levels without influencing the total androgen levels in healthy males. [42]

Recommended Intake: Take 10mg of boron per day.

Precautions: High doses of boron lead to gastric disturbances, hampered brain functions, and renal impairment.

Coleus forskohlii

Forskolin, the bio-extract from Coleus forskohlii, increases the levels of free testosterone in the serum. This supplement positively impacts fat loss and increases lean muscle mass.

Benefit Confidence: Low

Mechanism: The mechanism behind forskolin’s testosterone-boosting properties involves increased production of cAMP in the testicles, which in turn leads to increased testosterone production. [43]

Clinical Evidence: A study in 2005 found that a 12-week supplementation of 250mg of 10% forskolin twice a day increased serum free testosterone levels in overweight individuals. [44]

Recommended Intake: Take 250mg of 10% forskolin twice a day.

Precautions: Individuals with known medical conditions shall avoid forskolin. Short-term usage of forskolin is proven to be safe; however, there is no data on its long-term effects.

Popular Supplements That Have No Effect on the Testosterone Levels

Science does not support a few supplements that are being widely used for boosting testosterone levels.

Here is the list of those supplements that can be given a pass, if boosting testosterone levels is the prime concern.

  • Libido enhancers like Tongkat ali, Tribulus terrestris, [45] and maca influence the libido, not the testosterone levels.
  • Supplements like onion [46] and ginger [47] also have testosterone-boosting properties, but this is yet to be confirmed in human studies.
  • DHT-blockers like pumpkin seed extract and stinging nettle prevent the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). But, these are not proven to improve the testosterone levels in humans.

Supplement Stack

  • Take zinc (10-30mg), magnesium (200- 350mg), and vitamin D3 (2000- 3000 IU) with a meal containing fat.
  • A popular combination supplement used to boost testosterone levels is ZMA, which contains zinc monomethionine aspartate, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6. This supplement addresses most of the symptoms associated with male infertility.

If you are taking foods rich in vitamin D3, zinc, and magnesium, you may don’t have to take these supplements.

Stack Alteration

Zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D3 have high benefit confidence, which means – these have been extensively studied for their efficacy and safety.

However, if you want to modify the above-mentioned combinations, you can try with the below ones:

  • For individuals below 35 years age – to improve the free testosterone levels:

Take zinc (10-30mg), magnesium (200- 350mg), and vitamin D3 (2000-3000 IU) with a meal containing fat. Along with this combination, you can take 25mg of forskolin daily for two weeks and then stop taking it for 6 weeks.

  • For middle-aged men – to maintain the testosterone levels:

Along with zinc (10-30mg), magnesium (200-350mg), and vitamin D3 (2000 3000 IU), DHEA (25-50mg) can be added.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can take Testosterone Supplements?

Testosterone supplements can be used by men above 18 years age.

Testosterone supplements are used for multiple reasons such as muscle development, improvement in sexual functions, reversing male infertility, and boosting the body’s metabolism.

Their multifunctional properties make them popular supplements among men of all age groups. However, it is widely used by men above 30 years, as it is from this age the serum testosterone levels start dropping.

Can the Recommended Doses be Modified?

Exceeding the recommended dosage is not safe when it comes to testosterone supplements. If you want to modify the dosage, ensure it is not more than 10% excess than the recommended value.

Consuming more than what is recommended often leads to counterproductive effects.

How should I take my Testosterone Supplements? With food or just water?

A few testosterone supplements trigger GI disturbances and therefore, you must take these along with the food. Few supplements like mucuna and ashwagandha are usually taken with milk.

To be on the safer side, you can start with half the recommended dosage. This helps in reducing the risk these supplements may pose when consumed during day time (tiredness, dizziness, etc.) before bed (insomnia, frequent urination, etc.).

For how Long Should I take the Testosterone Supplements to see the Results?

With most supplements, you get to witness the results within 4-6 weeks. However, this largely depends upon your food habits and your lifestyle.

Scientific studies have shown that individuals with an active lifestyle tend to respond more positively to these supplements than sedentary individuals.

Avoiding dairy products and processed foods, including nutritious vegetables and fruits to your diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly, are some of the things you can do to make your testosterone supplements work faster and better.

Can Testosterone Supplements be taken along with other Medications?

A few supplements may interact with prescription drugs and hamper their absorption. Therefore, individuals with known medical conditions and those who are on medications should discuss with a health professional before using testosterone supplements.

Are there any Side Effects Associated with the Testosterone Supplements?

As long as you consume these supplements as per the recommended dosage, they pose no danger of side effects. All the supplements mentioned here are natural ingredients and therefore, are easily digested and absorbed.

One of the common side effects that you may come across is short-term GI disturbance, which gradually disappears as your body adjusts to these supplements.

Since Estrogen is Synthesized from DHEA in the body, is it safe for men to use it?

Yes, DHEA is a precursor for estrogen too. But, scientific studies have shown that DHEA preferentially gets converted to testosterone over estradiol in the Leydig cells. Therefore, when consumed as recommended, DHEA is safe in men. [48]

Final Words

It is important to know that testosterone supplements do not work like a miracle; these do need time.

Improving testosterone levels through supplements could be a viable option, provided you are working on keeping yourself active and stress-free, getting enough sleep, having a balanced diet, and losing weight.

Along with developing healthy habits and it is critical for you to let go of unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, and substance abuse for your testosterone supplements to work.

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