FDA Warns of Dangers From Testosterone Supplements
Yesterday, we talked about muscle-building supplements. There are over the counter testosterone supplements and prescription supplements. And then there are companies that claim to have developed a testosterone pill that contains the triumvirate of male-enhancing properties: T-boosting, libido-enhancing, and even fertility-increasing. For guys who are mainly looking to increase their testosterone, these extra benefits can seem like the icing on the cake, which makes these supplements highly marketable.
So why do people buy them like crazy? When your testosterone levels go up, so does your libido. Unfortunately, the inverse is not true — your libido levels can go up without your testosterone levels also going up.
This kind of improvement may sound impressive, but is irrelevant for practical purposes. If you treat these supplements for what they are libido boosters , you may be happy with the results. You may not be able to tell whether or not a supplement is working without getting a blood test. Even then, blood tests only take your T levels at that exact moment, which can fluctuate based on a lot of different variables.
Below we offer a breakdown of the most popular testosterone boosters out there and an assessment as to their effectiveness. Tribulus terrestris is the 1 selling testosterone booster, and the best example of a supplement that increases libido, but has no effect on testosterone. While preliminary evidence suggests that Tribulus can protect the body from stress, it definitely has no effect on testosterone. This sparked a frenzy of D-AA supplementation. Within a week, people were reporting greatly increased libido, as well as increased testicle size.
Unfortunately, another study done that spanned a longer time period found that after about a month of D-AA supplementation, testosterone levels returned to normal.
D-AA has been found to provide increased fertility and testosterone when supplemented by infertile men, but it has no effect on athletes and people with normal testosterone levels. Zinc and magnesium both part of the ZMA formula are frequently recommended as testosterone boosters for athletes. These minerals are lost through sweat and during exercise. Additional zinc or magnesium will not increase testosterone above normal levels. It is popular among post-menopausal women and younger women who are trying to avoid interactions with contraceptives.
More research is needed to determine how maca works in the body to increase libido non-hormonally. Maca does not boost testosterone.
Fenugreek is technically a testosterone booster. It contains 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which prevent testosterone from being turned into dihydrotestosterone DHT.
Fenugreek has other ways to mediate libido. Despite the decrease in DHT, fenugreek supplementation may actually improve sexual function and well-being. Strangely enough, fenugreek supplementation causes urine and sweat to smell like maple syrup. Tongkat ali is a Malaysian herb that has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac. Tongkat ali provides a very mild testosterone boost when supplemented by infertile people, but it has no effect on healthy men.
Tongkat ali is, however, effective at increasing libido. Testosterone is not the only hormone to affect libido. Dopamine is the other major player, while many others have minor roles. Increasing dopamine increases libido, and increasing L-DOPA levels results in increased dopamine levels in the brain. L-DOPA is sometimes called a testosterone booster, because of the way it interacts with prolactin.
After a steroid cycle, prolactin levels tend to be higher than usual because of the elevated testosterone. Prolactin negatively regulates testosterone and libido, while enhancing estrogen signaling.
Prolactin is suppressed by dopamine activity. Vitamin D stepped onto the testosterone booster shelf after a single study found that overweight men taking vitamin D experienced an increase in testosterone.
This study has not been replicated, but since then, vitamin D has been making its way into a variety of dietary supplements under the guise of raising testosterone levels.
Vitamin D supplementation may potentially boost testosterone levels, but further research is needed to determine if it really has an effect on the testosterone levels of young people and athletes. The truth is likely similar to zinc and magnesium — being in a deficient state causes your testosterone levels to drop below baseline, and supplementing it just takes you right back to baseline but not any higher.
While it would be nice to buy a testosterone pill from the local supplement store and have your testosterone levels go up, such a magic pill does not exist. As you can see from the above rundown, while a few supplements may be somewhat effective if your T levels are already low, none will significantly raise your testosterone above a baseline level.
If you do have a condition causing low T, your doctor can prescribe pharmaceuticals. Otherwise, the steps we outlined above are the way to go. The supplement industry was re-regulated in the early s.
While this had a positive effect spurred on by research , the downside was that a lot of technically true statements could be made. There are potent and effective supplements out there bacopa for memory, berberine for blood sugar, and so forth , and they should be taken in a targeted manner. Figure out any potential deficiencies, figure out your goals, and then identify supplements that you may want to take.
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