Healthy testosterone levels are critical for men’s general health, disease risk, body composition, sexual function, and the list goes on. This important steroid hormone is produced in men’s testicles, and in smaller amounts, women’s ovaries.
Keeping testosterone levels healthy is especially important as men age. It’s well-known that low “T” is associated with a number of unhealthy medical conditions, e.g. diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
But there seem to be some misconceptions about what causes testosterone decline. To that point, Australian scientists examined the issue in a 2011 study.1
Scientists now say a decline in testosterone levels as men age is likely the result – not the cause – of deteriorating general health. It’s your bad habits that are wrecking your health AND reducing your testosterone.
Here’s what they discovered…
Don’t Blame Your Age
Principal study investigator David Handelsman, MD, PhD, professor and director of the ANZAC Research Institute at the University of Sydney, explained the findings at The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.
He noted that some researchers believe an age-related testosterone deficiency contributes to the failing health of older men and causes other problems, such as tiredness and loss of libido.
However, Handelsman and his team were surprised when they examined the results of 325 healthy men over the age of 40 who had no symptoms. They discovered that testosterone levels did not decline with increasing age in these men who were in excellent health.
According to an Endocrine Society press release1, the scientists tested blood testosterone levels by taking blood samples from the men nine times over three months. Men who took medications that affect testosterone were excluded from the study.
“Age alone does not make you testosterone deficient,” Dr. Handelsman concluded.
He goes on to explain that the modest decline of testosterone among older men, which is typically seen along with symptoms such as fatigue and low sexual desire, may be due to disorders associated with aging, including obesity and heart disease.
Typical prescription testosterone therapy may offer a slew of potential side effects. Dr. Handelsman cautions that “older men with low testosterone levels do not need testosterone therapy unless they have diseases of their pituitary or testes.”
So the good news is that advancing age does not cause your testosterone to go down. The bad news is that if your testosterone is going down, it’s because your health is bad.
If you suffer from the symptoms of testosterone decline, first visit your healthcare professional and explore the underlying health problems that could be contributing. But if your T is low, don’t immediately leap for a prescription. Tackle the underlying health problems instead.
There are other reasons to go slow with T supplementation. Research shows that supplementing with testosterone depresses your body’s own natural ability to make it. That doesn’t mean you should never supplement. The results can be wonderful, from what I’ve heard.
But it does mean you should first explore natural ways to boost your “T.” Experts believe that a healthy, balanced lifestyle promotes healthy testosterone levels.
Three Natural Ways to Support Testosterone…
- Exercise: You know that exercise is good for your general health, but it turns out it also boosts testosterone. A large study found that folks who exercise regularly generally have higher testosterone levels. And among the elderly, exercise increases testosterone levels, fitness and reaction time.2
- Healthy Eating: Research shows that a diet based on whole foods is best. For optimal hormone levels and general health, aim for a good balance of fat, protein and carbs. Beware of constant dieting or overeating. Those may disrupt your testosterone levels.3
- Vitamin D: In recent years, this vitamin has garnered a lot of attention in the science world. Not only has it been shown to have various health benefits, it also works as a natural testosterone booster. A yearlong study4 found that supplementing with around 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily increased testosterone levels by around 25%. That is a very safe amount, and in fact it’s a bit on the low side. You can confidently take 5,000 IU, and many people need even more than that.
- Sleep: Experts now believe that sleep is just as important to good health as exercise and diet. What’s more, studies prove it can have a huge impact on healthy testosterone levels. One study5 found that for every additional hour of sleep you get, testosterone levels rise 15% higher, on average.