Testosterone is a steroid hormone that is a part of the androgen group found in mammals and other vertebrates. It is primarily secreted in the testicles of the male species and in the ovaries of the female species. The adrenal glands are also known for secreting small quantities of testosterone in the body. Testosterone is the principal male sex hormone and it is a component of anabolic steroids. It plays an important role in developing the male reproductive tissues like the testis and prostrate. It is also vital in promoting secondary sexual characteristics which include increased muscle, growth of facial hair, and increased bone mass. It is essential in maintaining well-being and health, and it is also very helpful in preventing osteoporosis.
In adult human males, the plasma concentration of testosterone is about 8 times more than the concentration present in adult human females. However, the metabolic consumption of testosterone in males is 20 times greater in comparison to that of females. Deficiency in the production of testosterone leads to a disease called Hypogonadism. This may be caused due to a problem with the pituitary gland which is responsible for controlling the testicles in the male body. In order to solve this problem, it is advisable for men to go for testosterone replacement therapy.
Testosterone in the Body
The production of testosterone begins in males during the puberty stage. The pituitary gland which is located in the brain commences the production of follicle stimulating hormone during this stage. This hormone is responsible for stimulating the production of luteinizing hormone and sperm in the males. Luteinizing hormone helps in the stimulation of the man's testes so that it can produce testosterone. The interstitial cells or Leydig cells are responsible for producing testosterone as a response to the luteinizing hormone production. Studies have shown that the Leydig cells produce close to 95% of the male's testosterone.
During the puberty stage, the production of testosterone is known to increase at an exponential rate (about 18-fold approximately). After the puberty stage, the interstitial cells continue to produce up to 6mg of testosterone daily. The disruption of testosterone production may be due to the body's response to obesity or other health conditions. Males above the age of 40 show a decline in the production of testosterone at an average annual rate of 1%.
The levels of testosterone that is produced is not completely used by the body. It gets inactivated by the liver and is excreted through the kidneys. Only a small portion of testosterone (approximately 4%) continues to remain in the male's blood stream, which is then converted into active testosterone and either binds to the molecules in the blood or is used by the cells. Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is a carrier-protein molecule that binds with other molecules and transports them to other parts in the body. 44% of all testosterone production gets bound tightly with this molecule. When the testosterone is bound with the SHBG, it cannot be separated from it, which makes it unavailable for the body to use. This is called as biologically inactive testosterone.
About 54% of the testosterone that is present in the male's blood and binds very loosely to the second carrier protein is called albumin. As it is not that tight in comparison to the SHBG, it is possible for the testosterone to separate from the protein. It can bind with any other molecule that is present in the blood. It is biologically available, which means that it can only be used by the cells in the man's body. The remaining part of the testosterone produced is called free testosterone, which does not bind well with the other molecules easily. Chronic health conditions, which include diabetes and the aging of men, are responsible for altering certain concentrations of the SHBG, free testosterone, and albumin in the male's blood stream.
Testosterone is produced in women through the interstitial cell of ovaries and close to 50% of it is circulated in the blood stream. The other half of testosterone production is done by the adrenal gland and other body tissues. Luteinizing hormones send signals in the body to stimulate the production of testosterone woman's ovaries. The production of testosterone is comparatively less in women than in men but it does not mean that it is not that important for women. When the testosterone molecules in the body break down through the process of bio-synthesis, it forms a bi-product called estradiol. This bi-product, which is a hormone of the estrogens group, is responsible for the regulation of the reproductive functioning of the body, such as ovulation. It is important for ensuring the well-being and health of women.
It must be noted that not all the testosterone that is produced by women will be converted into estrogen. Some testosterone remains in the blood and it binds with either SHBG or albumin without having to bind with any other molecule. It is also possible that the proportion of testosterone circulates freely in the blood as well. In men, the testosterone that binds with the SHBG is not used by the body's cells but the albumin-bound cells are bio-available. These bio-available cells are used by the body along with androgen receptor sites. Androgen receptor sites are the places which acquire hormones from the androgen group and include mostly testosterone. In women, the androgen receptor sites are located in the skin's tissues, sebaceous glands (found in the skin which secretes sebum), and the hair follicles.
The levels of testosterone are low in girls during their infancy stages but the production of testosterone doubles by the time they reach the puberty stage. After puberty and regular menstrual cycles, the levels of testosterone fluctuate sporadically during these periods. The first half of the cycle is characterized by rising levels of testosterone, which is known as the follicular phase, and they have their highest levels during the middle of the menstrual cycle. The production of testosterone slowly declines by the time the woman has reached her 20s and it continues to drop till the menopause stage. The level of testosterone that circulates in the body during a woman's mid-40 stage will be approximately 50% of the levels that they had during post puberty.
Reasons for Low Levels of Testosterone
The human body has a very narrow range of normal levels of bodily functions. When the hormones in the body go below these normal levels, there are effects that will hinder the body on a systemic and cellular level. The testing of the levels of testosterone in the body is normally conducted during the morning. It is hard to sample testosterone during the day as the levels continuously vary as the day progresses. In men, the normal level of testosterone should be 270-1070 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). This testing is dependent on the laboratory equipment that is used and this range can also vary. It is also very hard to measure the approximate levels of testosterone in the female body as their values are much lower when compared to that of men.
Low levels of testosterone can be caused by a variety of factors. For example, there could be a problem with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus with regard to the production of the exact amounts of luteinizing hormones required to stimulate testosterone production. It is also possible that the organs that produce testosterone are not functioning normally and are not able to respond to the stimulus triggered by the brain. The changes in SHBG affect the levels of testosterone that is present in the body, which also hinders the effects that it has on the body.
When there is an inherent problem with the organs that are responsible for the production of testosterone (testes or ovaries, in most cases), it is known as a 'primary problem'. A level of testosterone present in the body, which is below normal, or a decrease in the production of testosterone is called Hypogonadism. 'Secondary problems' are problems that are associated with the pituitary gland and affect the ability of this gland to regulate the levels of testosterone in the body. This is known as 'Secondary Hypogonadism'. And lastly, if there is a problem with regard to the functioning of the hypothalamus, then this problem is called, 'Tertiary Hypogonadism'.
Primary hypogonadism or failure of the gonads (sex organs such as ovaries and testes) has a variety of different causes. The first cause is undescended testicles or cryptorchidism. This is a problem where a testicle has not moved into the right position in the sack of the skin that hangs below the penis or scrotum before birth of a male baby. In most cases, it is just a single testicle that is affected but for about 10% of the time, both the testicles are affected. It is generally seen in baby boys that are born prematurely. As the time goes by, the testicle that is affected slowly moves into the right position by itself during the first few months of birth.
Another cause for low levels of testosterone in males is an injury caused to the scrotum. When the testes are damaged or injured, there is a high possibility that this primary organ will be able to produce normal levels of testosterone that is required for the body to function properly. Even if there is damage caused to only the testicle, there could be an affect on the levels of testosterone in the body. In some cases, there has been no change in the levels of testosterone if there is at least one testicle that is functioning normally.
In case of males who undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy, there has been some damage to the levels of testosterone that is produced. Radiation therapies are responsible for damaging the interstitial cells that are located in the testes. They lead to a decreased level of production of testosterone that is adequate for the body. There is a possibility that the decrease in the production of testosterone may be a temporary problem, but there are cases where there is permanent damage.
The levels of testosterone gradually decrease by 1% on an annual basis after men reach the age of 40. By this point in time, there is enough testosterone produced in the body to carry out normal bodily functions. However, some researchers have suggested that the lower levels of testosterone can cause many other medical problems such as erectile dysfunction and muscle and bone loss. Another cause for low levels of testosterone is the mumps virus. This virus can cause an inflammation of the male's testes. If this illness is present during the puberty stage or adulthood stage, it could lead to a damage in the testes, which reduces the ability of the testes to produce testosterone. In order to treat this condition, patients should be immunized against mumps so that it can reduce the incidence of illness.
Low levels of testosterone can also be caused by chromosomal abnormalities. If there is an extra X chromosome that is present in the male, such as the case with Klinefelter's disease, there could be an abnormal development of the testes which could lead to a decreased ability for it to produce testosterone. And lastly, if there is a surgical removal of the ovaries in women, or a premature ovarian failure, there will be low levels of testosterone that gets circulated in the body.
Secondary and tertiary hypogonadism are caused mainly due to the damage of the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus and/or if there is failure in the production of gonad-stimulating hormones such as luteinizing hormones. The causes for such failures include damage to the pituitary gland due to the presence of a tumor in the gland or because of the damage caused by side effects of the treatment of nearby brain tumors. Kallman's Syndrome is an example of a hypothalamus malformation which prevents it from functioning properly. This could lead to lower levels of gonad-stimulating hormones that are produced in the body. Another cause could be due to a bleeding or shock that is experienced by the body, which reduces the blood flow to the glands. Sarcoidosis and tuberculosis cause inflammation in the body and this has a harmful effect on the pituitary gland and its functioning. HIV/AIDS can also cause inflammation to both the pituitary gland as well as the hypothalamus.
Even the illegal of use of any anabolic steroid can have an adverse effect on the body and can cause hypogonadism. Obesity is also a cause for low levels of testosterone. Studies on obesity have shown that it converts the testosterone into estrogen. This process is naturally occurring in both women and in men, and predominantly takes place in the fat cells of the body. An increase in the fat cells in the body can enhance this process and may cause the testosterone levels to fall because of the excess conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
Symptoms of Low Levels of testosterone
In men, the symptoms of low levels of testosterone in the body are dependent on when the level of the hormone reduces. When there is a decreased level of testosterone in the fetus, the development of the genitals may be hindered. This will result in poor development of the scrotum and the penis.
In case there are low levels of testosterone, which occur before or during the puberty stage, it is because there is a lack of sexual maturation. A person who lacks sexual maturation fails to develop mass in the muscles and his voice does not become deep. Low levels of testesterone also lead to enlarged breasts (also known as gynecomastia), low levels of growth in body hair, and a failure in the penis or testes to enlarge.
Adults have different signs of low levels of testosterone. This is normally associated with a reduced desire for sexual functioning, loss of hair, erectile dysfunction, decreased mass in the muscles, and decreased bone density or osteoporosis. It must be also noted that having low levels of testosterone is not a disease that is only associated with men but it can be a cause of concern for women too. Low levels of testosterone can cause a variety of issues which include irritability, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and lack of sexual desire or a decreased libido. There are also cases where low levels of testosterone causes females to have osteoporosis, loss of body hair, and loss of mass in the muscles.
Natural ways to boost testosterone levels
Treating low levels of testosterone can be done in two ways – naturally or artificially. Increasing the levels of testosterone for those who are deficient in it is possible through natural treatments such as managing your diet, reducing stress, controlling your blood sugar levels, and carrying out proper exercises. In order to ensure that your testosterone levels remain normal, it is important to ensure a healthy lifestyle.
People who have hypertension or high blood pressure are more likely to have low levels of testosterone. Therefore in order to increase the levels of testosterone, it is important to ensure that you decrease your blood pressure through stress management. The first step towards reducing stress is to identify the sources of stress in your life. In order to do so, you must look closely at your attitude and habits and see whether your stress occurs regularly or sporadically. You should also make sure that you figure out whether your stress is due to your attitude towards work and other activities.
Another way of reducing stress is to ensure that you do not have unhealthy habits that help you cope with stress. This includes reduction in smoking, consumption of alcohol, and usage of pills to relax. You should also make sure that you do not isolate yourself from social interactions as this is another cause for stress in many people. Do not procrastinate your work and make sure you keep yourself busy at all times. In order to ensure that you have a stress-free life, you should make sure that you avoid unnecessary stress. You can do this by learning to say ‘no’ whenever you know that the task is beyond your ability to complete it. By taking on added responsibility, you will be putting a lot of stress on yourself when it could have been avoided.
Lower your blood sugar level
There is a high possibility that those who have diabetes or high blood sugar will develop a low level of testosterone. Therefore it is important for those who have this problem to learn how to manage their sugar intake in order to maintain an adequate level of testosterone. In order to reduce your blood sugar levels, it is important to be wise about the foods that you consume and improve your exercise schedule. One of the ways to reduce your blood sugar is to burn off the glucose in your blood stream through a lot of exercises such as jogging, cycling, or calisthenics.
Exercise and Healthy eating
Men who have low testosterone levels should ensure that they undergo a lot of physical activities and exercises as it helps in increasing the testosterone levels. The effect that exercise has on increasing the levels of testosterone in the body vary based on a variety of factors. The first factor is the weight of the male. Exercising has a more potent effect on those people who are suffering with obesity. It is important for the person who has low testosterone levels to undergo rigorous exercises with shorter breaks in between.
The next factor is with regard to the person's age. Experts believe that the reason why older people's testosterone decreases after the age of 40 is because these men are less likely to undergo a lot of physical exercises. Exercises have a positive effect on the levels of testosterone and in many cases, those who underwent such strenuous physical activities had seen an increase in the levels of testosterone in the body. And lastly, the timing of the workout also affects the levels of testosterone in the body. The testosterone levels are at its highest during the morning and lowest during the afternoon. However, the best time to exercise is during the evening/night as it has potent effect on the levels of testosterone in comparison to exercising in the morning.
The best exercises that are good for those who have low levels of testosterone are full-body exercises and weight-lifting. Instead of focusing on one part of the body, it is important for people to choose an exercise that encompasses the entire body as this will have a more potent effect on the levels of testosterone in the body.
This is a testosterone supplement that has become very popular in the market and it has proven to be the most effective supplement for increasing the levels of testosterone in the human body. It is one of the enantiomers of amino acid and is also known as Aspartate. The ‘D’ in D-Aspartic acid refers to the fact that the molecule bends light towards the right. D-Aspartic acid is commonly found in soy protein, simulated bacon, casein, and corn protein.
D-Aspartic acid is taken up into the testicles through NMDA receptors where it is present in both the Leydig and Sertoli cells in the testicles. When it is taken into the cell, the D-Asparate shows an ability to induce a testosterone release but it needs to work synergistically with hCG by increasing the effectiveness of the hCG on the testicular cell. There is an increase in the testosterone synthesis after 16 hours and this is shown to increase the cholesterol transport into the mitochondrial membrane. This transport is influenced by the Cordyceps. D-aspartic acid helps in directly increasing the testosterone production in the testes along with leading to the release of testosterone.
Tribulus Terrestris is also a popular testosterone supplement that has many sales in the past few years. It is a plant extract that is found in Australia, Europe, Africa, and Asia. It contains certain compounds that are known as steroidal saponins, which help in increasing the testosterone levels. One of the compounds of saponin is protodioscin, which is a saponin that has a steroidal effect present in many species of plants. It is known to increase the levels of testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, and dihydrotestosterone. The common users of Tribulus Terrestris are bodybuilders and they use Tribulus in an effort to increase the testosterone levels to improve muscle mass, endurance, fat loss, and strength
This supplement works through protodioscin in order to boost the testosterone levels through the pituitary gland stimulation. This stimulation helps in promoting the production of the luteinizing hormone, which increases the unbound free-testosterone levels. Although it is recognized as a supplement that boosts testosterone, protodioscin has shown that it has the ability to enhance the levels of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps in increasing overall growth and blood flow. The benefits of Tribulus is linked to protodioscin, so it is recommended that you find a product which is highly standardized and includes a high quantity of this active ingredient.
It is a supplement that boosts testosterone levels and combines three unique ingredients. ZMA is an abbreviation for Zinc ( l-monmethionine ), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCL), and Magnesium (aspartate), . These are all useful for any athlete as they aid in guarding the body from depletion of such vital vitamins and minerals. This often occurs following a prolonged or intense workout. Zinc is known as a common mineral which is involved in stimulating many hormones such as insulin, testosterone, estrogen, and growth hormone. This mineral is engaged in 200 plus enzymatic reactions. Researchers have indicated that bodybuilders and athletes have a high requirement for zinc because these people are more susceptible to its deficiency through their routines. ZMA contains approximately 30mg of zinc.
A study conducted in 1996, which was titled "Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults", proved that an intake of 30mg of zinc on a daily basis by men experiencing zinc deficiency showed an increase of testosterone levels of almost double the amount within a 6 month period. This shows that zinc deficiency has a major impact on the testosterone levels. Magnesium is a mineral that is responsible for around 300 enzymatic reactions which include glycolysis, formation of creatine phosphate, krebs cycle, and protein synthesis for athletes, which focuses on strength training, activation of amino acids, synthesis of nucleic acid, AMP formation cycles, and muscle contractibility. As magnesium has a role to play in all these functions, its deficiency may reduce testosterone levels and impede the growth of muscles. ZMA contains 450 mg of magnesium.
The last part of the ZMA formula is vitamin B-6 which is known as pyridoxine. This has a major implication on the synthesis of protein. The coenzyme form of vitamin B6 is related to a large quantity of enzymes in which the majority forms an important part of the metabolism of amino acids in the body. It is required in the glycogen catabolism in order to "unlock" the carbohydrate energy which has been proven to impair the functioning of catabolic steroids that include glucocorticoid hormones (also known as cortisol). This helps in boosting the testosterone-cortisol ratio, which may help in building muscles. ZMA contains 10.5mg of Vitamin B6. When combined, ZMA shows an increase in free testosterone levels by up to 30%.
Eurycoma longifolia (also known as longjack) is another testosterone supplement which is commonly used by weight lifters. Eurycoma longifolia, which is an herb found in parts of Indonesia, is known for its ability to boost testosterone in the body. A large amount of testosterone which circulates in the human body is bound to SHBG. The Testosterone which is connected to SHBG is considered to be ineffective and it has no positive effect on the growth of muscles. Only free testosterone can exert the effect that is attributed to this hormone. The effect is both androgenic (sexualizing and masculinizing, both mentally and physically, which thus increases the libido) and anabolic (building muscle tissue).
Eurycoma longifolia's active ingredients help capture and bind to the SHBG hormone which prevents SHBG from being able to capture any circulating free testosterone. The increase in free testosterone helps in the building of muscles. Eurycoma longifolia has also shown an increase in fatigue recovery and an increase in strength. This is highly advantageous for athletes and weight lifters.
This is also known as Horny goat weed which is a leafy plant native to the Mediterranean region and Asia. It is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine. Epimediumis known for containing icariin which, some say, is the compound that is responsible for Epimedium's testosterone-boosting benefits. Studies that have been conducted on rats showed that when administered with doses of icariin, they had an increase in testosterone levels of over 3-fold. Although there has not been any human studies conducted, which have shown similar results, Epimedium has been effective in boosting the levels of testosterone.
EFA (Essential Fatty Acids)
Essential fatty acids are important nutrients which your body requires in order to function properly. Bodybuilders and strength athletes require an additional supplement of essential fatty acids in order to boost their testosterone levels so as to build muscle more quickly. Apart from being required for energy and muscle development for power lifters and bodybuilders, EFAs are needed by the body for many metabolic processes which include a health sex drive, healthy libido, and enhanced fat metabolism. It is also an essential nutrient that aids in the production of testosterone.
If there is a deficiency in the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, then there will be a decreased level of testosterone production. EFAs are needed by the human body in order to synthesize testosterone. Taking EFAs will not increase the testosterone levels beyond the average level the body should have but it will make sure that the quantity of testosterone will not go below the natural levels.
The use of DHEA, which is a testosterone-boosting supplement, is highly controversial and it is considered by many medical experts to be a less-natural supplement. It is a hormone that is released by the adrenal glands in the body and it is highly involved in the biological processes in the human body. It functions along with the androgen receptors through metabolites such as androstenedione and androstenediol both indirectly and directly. These metabolites are required to convert to produce estrogen and testosterone. DHEA is more commonly known to be a neurosteroid.
It is considered that the DHEA supplement will convert to testosterone and thus, it will increase the levels of testosterone in the body. The DHEA levels, on average, peak between the ages of 25 and 30 in humans and after that period it will steadily decline. This will mean that by the time the person is 80 years old, they would have around 5-10% of their DHEA that they would have had when they were in their 20s. DHEA is generally administered to those who are above the age of 35 as this would be more helpful for them. Although DHEA converts to testosterone during normal body functioning, it is uncertain that it is a natural testosterone-boosting supplement. As it is also a pro hormone, it is not a legal substance to be found in athletes, in excess of normal levels, and it is banned by a number of sports organizations.
Anti-Estrogen (Aromatase Inhibitors)
It is a fact that men also have estrogen in their bodies and the only difference with that of women is that men have lower levels of estrogen. When bodybuilders and athletes are trying to increase their muscle mass, the production of testosterone is not the component that is required. There has to be an adequate balance of testosterone and estrogen in the body.
This is a phytonutrient that is created in the body when there is a digestion of the indole-3-carbinol (found in certain vegetables). Indole-3-carbinol is one of the characteristics found in vegetables that make it a healthy food to eat. DIM's ability is to increase the metabolic rate of harmful estrogens. This is a much quicker way of breaking down estrogen in the body and will eventually be released when the user has to urinate.
This is an important flavonoid which is extracted from one of the members of the passion flower species. It has an ability to reduce the effect of the aromatase enzyme which is responsible for converting the testosterone to estrogen in the body. This is one of the reasons why Chrysin is a recommended anti-estrogen for bodybuilders and strength athletes.
Testosterone boosters are important for people who have low levels of testosterone. It is also required by bodybuilders and strength athletes in order for them to increase their muscle growth as well as their endurance. A lot of men, who may not be sportspersons, also use testosterone boosters in order for them to enhance their male characteristics a lot more quickly. As mentioned before, the levels of testosterone do not remain constant during the lifetime of a person. During the passage of time, the levels of testosterone decrease at 1% per year after the person reaches the age of 40. This means that the effect that testosterone has on the human body gradually minimizes with age. This is why many men take testosterone-boosting supplements in order for them to look younger than they actually are.
Testosterone booster supplements have a lot of other benefits for the user. These supplements are very useful for those who go regularly to the gym as it helps in increasing muscle growth and it improves the endurance of the user. This makes it easier for the person to push their physical attributes to the limit and allows them to train for longer periods of time. Testosterone boosters also help in maintaining the body composition. When men are trying to increase their muscles, testosterone boosters help in ensuring that the muscles are slender due to the increase in the metabolic rate. It helps in burning fat as well ensuring that there is an energy reserve in the body. It is important to note that testosterone boosters are not meant to be abused and should be taken with a lot of care and responsibility in order to get noticeable results without any side-effects.
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