So, how does one ensure that testosterone levels remain in balance? Some doctors suggest that monitoring testosterone levels every five years, starting at age 35, is a reasonable strategy to follow. If the testosterone level falls too low or if the individual has the signs and symptoms of low testosterone levels described above, testosterone therapy can be considered. However, once testosterone therapy is initiated, testosterone levels should be closely monitored to make sure that the testosterone level does not become too high, as this may cause stress on the individual, and high testosterone levels may result in some of the negative problems (described previously) seen.
A number of research groups have tried to further define the relationship of testosterone and body composition by artificial alteration of testosterone levels in eugonadal populations. Induction of a hypogonadal state in healthy men (Mauras et al 1998) or men with prostate cancer (Smith et al 2001) using a gonadotrophin-releasing-hormone (GnRH) analogue was shown to produce increases in fat mass and decreased fat free mass. Another experimental approach in healthy men featured suppression of endogenous testosterone production with a GnRH analogue, followed by treatment with different doses of weekly intramuscular testosterone esters for 20 weeks. Initially the experiments involved men aged 18–35 years (Bhasin et al 2001) but subsequently the study was repeated with a similar protocol in men aged 60–75 years (Bhasin et al 2005). The different doses given were shown to produce a range of serum concentrations from subphysiological to supraphysiological (Bhasin et al 2001). A given testosterone dose produced higher serum concentrations of testosterone in the older age group (Bhasin et al 2005). Subphysiological dosing of testosterone produced a gain in fat mass and loss of fat free mass during the study. There were sequential decreases in fat mass and increases in fat free mass with each increase of testosterone dose. These changes in body composition were seen in physiological and supraphysiological treatment doses. The trend was similar in younger versus older men but the gain of fat mass at the lowest testosterone dose was less prominent in older patients (Bhasin et al 2001; Bhasin et al 2005). With regard to muscle function, the investigators showed dose dependent increases in leg strength and power with testosterone treatment in young and older men but there was no improvement in fatigability (Storer et al 2003; Bhasin et al 2005).
Any day that you don’t get 20 minutes of direct sunlight on your skin, you want to supplement with 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3. If you get your blood levels tested and you’re extremely low — below 50 IUs — you typically want to do 5,000 IUs twice a day for three months until you get those numbers up. You can do everything in the world, but if your vitamin D levels aren’t right, your testosterone levels will stay low.
Millions of American men use a prescription testosterone gel or injection to restore normal levels of the manly hormone. The ongoing pharmaceutical marketing blitz promises that treating "low T" this way can make men feel more alert, energetic, mentally sharp, and sexually functional. However, legitimate safety concerns linger. For example, some older men on testosterone could face higher cardiac risks.
Dr. Anthony’s Notes: DHEA is a powerful supplement for testosterone, energy, and overall well-being in our older Fit Fathers. A small dose of 25-50mg/day is enough to exert noticeable benefits. This supplement is over-the-counter. Verdict: this is one of the testosterone supplements that work. How To Take DHEA: Take 25-50mg once per day with food. Special Medical Note: DHEA is a MILD CYP3A4 inhibitor (a liver enzyme that processes MANY very common medications). This is the same isoenzyme that Grapefruit inhibits – albeit DHEA inhibits to a much weaker degree. If you’ve ever heard “don’t eat grapefruit with your Lipitor (cholesterol medication)”… this is the reason why. When we inhibit the CYP3A4 enzyme, more of the medications you're taking circulates (it’s not metabolized as fast). Check with your doctor for medication interactions before using DHEA.
Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 actually isn’t a vitamin, it’s a hormone — a really important hormone that provides a whole host of health benefits. Our bodies can naturally make vitamin D from the sun, but recent studies have shown that many Westerners are vitamin D3 deprived because we’re spending less and less time outdoors. When we do decide to venture outside, we slather our bodies with sunscreen, which prevents the sun reaching our skin to kick-off vitamin D3 production. If you’re not getting enough sun, you may have a vitamin D3 deficiency, which may contribute to low T levels. If you think you need more vitamin D3, supplement it with a pill. Studies have shown that men who take this supplement see a boost in their testosterone levels. Because I have a darker complexion — which makes me prone to Vitamin D3 deficiency — I took 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 in the morning.
An added testosterone benefit of my high fat and balanced protein and carb diet was that it probably helped me lose some body fat (I went from 18% to 12% body fat). Studies show that high fat diets actually contribute to increased body fat loss. And as we discussed earlier, as you lose body fat, your T production ramps up. Virtuous cycle for the win!
Like other supplements and medication, testosterone therapy comes with risks and possible side effects. This is particularly true if you try to take it for normal aging rather than for treatment of a condition. Also, the Cleveland Clinic points out that the effects that these supplements may have on your heart and prostate can lead to a number of potential issues. Complications include:
Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.
When we face stress, our adrenal glands secrete cortisol to prepare our bodies and minds to handle the stressful situation — the primal fight-or-flight response. In small dosages, cortisol is fine and even useful, but elevated cortisol levels for prolonged periods can do some serious damage to our bodies and minds. One area that seems to take a hit when cortisol is high is our testosterone levels. Several studies have shown a link between cortisol and testosterone. When cortisol levels are high, testosterone levels are low; and when testosterone levels are high, cortisol levels are low.
Here’s one proof: in a number of British rivers, 50 percent of male fish were found to produce eggs in their testes. According to EurekAlert,3 EDCs have been entering rivers and other waterways through sewage systems for years, altering the biology of male fish. It was also found that fish species affected by EDCs had 76 percent reduction in their reproductive function.
Testosterone levels generally peak during adolescence and early adulthood. As you get older, your testosterone level gradually declines — typically about 1 percent a year after age 30 or 40. It is important to determine in older men if a low testosterone level is simply due to the decline of normal aging or if it is due to a disease (hypogonadism).