Can Supplements Naturally Support Testosterone?
Expert Advice from Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD
Arginine theoretically improves cardiovascular performance, which may allow a harder, longer workout
Testosterone levels naturally decline with age, so it's normal for a man in his 50s or 60s to have lower testosterone levels than a man in his 20s or 30s. However, if you think your testosterone levels are lower than they should be, talk to your doctor. "Low T" must be diagnosed with blood tests, and no one should take testosterone without a doctor's supervision. It's a powerful hormone that can be harmful to health if taken when it's not needed.
What about supplements?
Research has not definitively proven that any particular dietary supplement increases testosterone levels. However, some nutrients and substances may support natural testosterone production and support testosterone's actions in the body. Remember to always discuss your dietary supplement use with your doctor or dietitian.
- Alpha ketoglutarate (AKG). Necessary for cell growth and protein synthesis, which may support testosterone's important role in maintaining lean body tissue
- Arginine. Theoretically improves cardiovascular performance, which may allow a harder, longer workout, maximizing your body's use of its own, natural testosterone
- Beta-Sitosterol. Appears to support the body's resistance to infection in those who participate in regular, intensive exercise, in turn ensuring you stay healthy and maintain your lean tissue
- Black Cohosh. May help normalize production and use of sex steroid hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). A precursor to testosterone, which means your body can use this substance to make more testosterone (DHEA has hormonal actions in the body, so be sure to ask your doctor before you take it)
- Fenugreek. Used for both culinary and medical purposes, it may help normalize blood sugar and cholesterol levels, both important for normal testosterone production and actions
- L-Carnitine. Used by the body to release energy from fat; purported to help manage erectile dysfunction, male infertility, and exercise-induced muscle injury, suggesting it may support testosterone function
- Nettle. Appears to have anti-inflammatory actions, and the root of the plant affects hormones and proteins that carry sex hormones (such as testosterone or estrogen) in the human body
- Nitric Oxide. According to research, may work in conjunction with AKG to support the body's ability to build lean tissue, which may support the similar actions of testosterone
- Rhodiola. Used to manage stress, which can diminish testosterone production; Rhodiola rosea, the most common medicinal species, may support physical endurance and improve thyroid, thymus, and adrenal function
- Vitamins B6, B12, D, and E. Important for optimal body functioning; mild deficiencies may affect the production of many important substances, including testosterone and other hormones
- Zinc. May improve muscle strength and oxygen delivery to cells during intense activity; may help manage mild benign prostatic hyperplasia according to some research, suggesting it has a role in normal testosterone production and function
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.