Every vitamin, mineral, and ingredient that affects the human body can be taken in enough quantities that they are harmful, or toxic, even the ones that — at lower levels — are beneficial or necessary. Unfortunately, testosterone boosters contain a lot of ingredients that are not well understood. This means in addition to not being able to confirm whether certain ingredients increase testosterone, the scientific and medical communities also don’t know at what levels many ingredients become toxic. On the up side, you might need to eat several pounds of a particular leafy plant before it becomes harmful. On the down side, it could be significantly less that pushes you over your body’s limit. We simply don’t know how little or how much the human body can tolerate. We recommend keeping your doctor in the loop when you add any supplement with unproven ingredients into your diet — they’ll be able to help you find and track any undesired side-effects that these ingredients might cause.
Hypogonadism (as well as age-related low testosterone) is diagnosed with blood tests that measure the level of testosterone in the body. The Endocrine Society recommends testing for suspected low T with a total testosterone test. It may be performed in the morning when testosterone levels tend to be highest in young men, although this isn't necessarily the case in older men. The test may be repeated on another day if the results show a low T level. (5)
In a recent study of male workers, men with low testosterone levels had an increased chance of severe erectile dysfunction (Kratzik et al 2005), although such a link had not been found previously (Rhoden et al 2002). Certainly erectile dysfunction is considered part of the clinical syndrome of hypogonadism, and questions regarding erectile dysfunction form part of the clinical assessment of patients with hypogonadism (Morley et al 2000; Moore et al 2004).
Elevated testosterone levels have been demonstrated to increase the growth of body muscles and contribute to better activation of the nervous system, resulting in more power and strength, a better mood, enhanced libido, and many other benefits. Previous researches done on the anabolic role of testosterone and its impact on muscular strength in training-induced adaptations has provided rather conflicting findings, and a positive correlation between testosterone-mediated responses and both functional performance and body composition was found.[4,5] There are a number of naturally occurring substances that can boost testosterone levels in the body. Foods containing such substances are known as testosterone-foods; and they tend to be rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals like zinc, which plays a key role in testosterone production.[2,6-8]
That said, keep in mind that using leucine as a free form amino acid can be highly counterproductive as when free form amino acids are artificially administrated, they rapidly enter your circulation while disrupting insulin function, and impairing your body's glycemic control. Food-based leucine is really the ideal form that can benefit your muscles without side effects.
The basis for my thinking that T levels could be boosted by cold baths came from a post I wrote a few years ago on the benefits of cold showers. One benefit I found in my research was that they could increase testosterone levels. I mentioned a 1993 study done by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England that found increased T levels after taking a cold shower. Here’s the thing. I can’t find a link to the original source and I can’t find any other studies that support this claim! So without supporting research, I’m unsure of the effects of cold showers on testosterone.
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Estrogen is important in men, but too high of a level has all sorts of negative consequences – ranging from heart attacks to prostate cancer (32 & 33). The balance between testosterone and estrogen (or estradiol) is critical for a man. If the ratio is out and estrogen starts to dominate you run into all sorts of issues – such as breast cell growth, prostate enlargement and of course lower testosterone.
Studies of the effects on cognition of testosterone treatment in non-cognitively impaired eugonadal and hypogonadal ageing males have shown varying results, with some showing beneficial effects on spatial cognition (Janowsky et al 1994; Cherrier et al 2001), verbal memory (Cherrier et al 2001) and working memory (Janowsky et al 2000), and others showing no effects (Sih et al 1997; Kenny et al 2002). Other trials have examined the effects of testosterone treatment in older men with Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive decline. Results have been promising, with two studies showing beneficial effects of testosterone treatment on spatial and verbal memory (Cherrier et al 2005b) and cognitive assessments including visual-spatial memory (Tan and Pu 2003), and a recent randomized controlled trial comparing placebo versus testosterone versus testosterone and an aromatase inhibitor suggesting that testosterone treatment improves spatial memory directly and verbal memory after conversion to estrogen (Cherrier et al 2005a). Not all studies have shown positive results (Kenny et al 2004; Lu et al 2005), and variations could be due to the different measures of cognitive abilities that were used and the cognitive state of men at baseline. The data from clinical trials offers evidence that testosterone may be beneficial for certain elements of cognitive function in the aging male with or without cognitive decline. Larger studies are needed to confirm and clarify these effects.
However, some of these signs and symptoms can be caused by factors other than low testosterone, including medication side effects, thyroid problems, depression and excessive alcohol use. There are also conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, that might affect testosterone levels. Once these conditions are identified and treated, testosterone typically will return to a normal level.
Binge drinking on the other hand does impact Testosterone levels – especially on a short term basis. Two studies (22 & 23) show that large acute quantities of alcohol consumption in a short period led to decreases in Testosterone levels by a whooping 20-23% after 24hours! Note however this is drinking to extreme excess! Likewise, chronic alcohol abuse is known to reduce testosterone more notably (as seen in alcoholics).
The production of the stress hormone cortisol blocks the production and effects of testosterone. From a biological perspective, cortisol increases your “fight or flight” response, thereby lowering testosterone-associated functions such as mating, competing, and aggression. Chronic stress can take a toll on testosterone production, as well as your overall health. Therefore, stress management is equally important to a healthy diet and regular exercise. Tools you can use to stay stress-free include prayer, meditation, laughter, and yoga. Relaxation skills, such as deep breathing and visualization, can also promote your emotional health.
Opioid substances are in common use both licit and illicit. Opiates are potent analgesics but they are also highly addictive. They are frequently prescribed for both acute and chronic pain and when used chronically, often induce opiate dependence in the user. Pain clinics regularly use narcotic agents in many of their patients. Methadone, in particular, is regularly prescribed to opiate addicts who have entered a program aimed at reducing narcotic dosage and ultimately weaning the patient off it altogether. Most men who are on chronic high doses of an opiate become hypogonadal. This was first recognized in the 1970’s when heroin addicts were found to have suppressed levels of testosterone (Brambilla et al 1977). Also suppressed were LH and FSH pointing to a probable inhibition of GnRH release.
Your first step should be to see your doctor. If you think you have low testosterone, we cannot stress enough that you should proceed with caution and talk to a medical professional — taking a booster can definitely do more harm than good. Low testosterone can be a symptom of more serious problems, like a pituitary disorder or a side-effect of medication, and a booster can mask the root cause. A doctor will be able to evaluate your testosterone levels with a simple blood test, and if you both decide a booster is the way to go, give the ingredients of any supplement a once-over to make sure that they’re not at risk of making your personal health situation worse.
Before assessing the evidence of testosterone’s action in the aging male it is important to note certain methodological considerations which are common to the interpretation of any clinical trial of testosterone replacement. Many interventional trials of the effects of testosterone on human health and disease have been conducted. There is considerable heterogenicity in terms of study design and these differences have a potential to significantly affect the results seen in various studies. Gonadal status at baseline and the testosterone level produced by testosterone treatment in the study are of particular importance because the effects of altering testosterone from subphysiological to physiological levels may be different from those of altering physiological levels to supraphysiological. Another important factor is the length of treatment. Randomised controlled trials of testosterone have ranged from one to thirty-six months in duration (Isidori et al 2005) although some uncontrolled studies have lasted up to 42 months. Many effects of testosterone are thought to fully develop in the first few months of treatment but effects on bone, for example, have been shown to continue over two years or more (Snyder et al 2000; Wang, Cunningham et al 2004).
^ Southren AL, Gordon GG, Tochimoto S, Pinzon G, Lane DR, Stypulkowski W (May 1967). "Mean plasma concentration, metabolic clearance and basal plasma production rates of testosterone in normal young men and women using a constant infusion procedure: effect of time of day and plasma concentration on the metabolic clearance rate of testosterone". The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 27 (5): 686–94. doi:10.1210/jcem-27-5-686. PMID 6025472.
Sharma, R., Oni, O. A., Gupta, K., Chen, G., Sharma, M., Dawn, B., … & Barua, R. S. (2015, August 6). Normalization of testosterone level is associated with reduced incidence of myocardial infarction. European Heart Journal, 36(40), 2706-2715. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/36/40/2706/2293361/Normalization-of-testosterone-level-is-associated