When you’re under stress (be it from lack of sleep, workplace stress, emotional stress, stress from a bad diet, overtraining etc.), your body releases cortisol. Cortisol blunts the effects of testosterone (47), which makes sense from an evolutionary point of view – if we were stressed as cavemen chances are it was a life or death situation – not running late to a meeting - in this state (i.e. running from a lion) the body wouldn’t care if you couldn’t get it up, there was more to worry about!
The mineral zinc is important for testosterone production, and supplementing your diet for as little as six weeks has been shown to cause a marked improvement in testosterone among men with low levels.1 Likewise, research has shown that restricting dietary sources of zinc leads to a significant decrease in testosterone, while zinc supplementation increases it2 -- and even protects men from exercised-induced reductions in testosterone levels.3
The diagnosis of late-onset hypogonadism requires the combination of low serum testosterone levels with symptoms of hypogonadism. Questionnaires are available which check for the symptoms of hypogonadism. These have been validated for the assessment of aging patients with hypogonadism (Morley et al 2000; Moore et al 2004) but have a low specificity. In view of the overlap in symptoms between hypogonadism, aging and other medical conditions it is wise to use a formal method of symptom assessment which can be used to monitor the effects of testosterone replacement.
^ Jump up to: a b Lazaridis I, Charalampopoulos I, Alexaki VI, Avlonitis N, Pediaditakis I, Efstathopoulos P, Calogeropoulou T, Castanas E, Gravanis A (2011). "Neurosteroid dehydroepiandrosterone interacts with nerve growth factor (NGF) receptors, preventing neuronal apoptosis". PLoS Biol. 9 (4): e1001051. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001051. PMC 3082517. PMID 21541365.
That said, magnesium is one of a few ingredients demonstrated to impact testosterone levels. Researchers at Italy’s University of Palermo found that magnesium improved participants’ anabolic hormone status — including their testosterone levels. In a follow-up study, they confirm that even adjusting for age differences in their participant group, “magnesium was positively associated with total testosterone.” They propose that magnesium supplementation might help improve muscle performance in aging men — a group particularly vulnerable to declining/low testosterone levels. Outside of Italy, researchers at Turkey’s Selçuk University found that magnesium supplementation increased testosterone levels for both athletes and more sedentary men alike.
Vitamin C (unnecessary). I don’t know where I first heard about vitamin C’s supposed T-boosting benefits, but it’s one of those things you see all over the internet when you Google “how to increase testosterone.” Without trying to find the research that backs up that claim, I took a vitamin C supplement during my experiment. I later found some research that suggests that vitamin C does increase testosterone levels in diabetic mice, but because I wasn’t diabetic (nor a mouse), I’m not sure how much the vitamin C helped. I’ve actually stopped taking vitamin C supplements. I’m likely getting more than enough with my diet. Unless you have diabetes, you probably won’t see much benefit from this supplement. Don’t waste your money.
However, testosterone is only one of many factors that aid in adequate erections. Research is inconclusive regarding the role of testosterone replacement in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. In a review of studies that looked at the benefit of testosterone in men with erection difficulties, showed no improvement with testosterone treatment. Many times, other health problems play a role in erectile difficulties. These can include:
When I told people that I was doing an experiment to increase my testosterone, the question that people would invariably ask in hushed tones was, “So, did it, you know, improve your sex life?” Honestly, I didn’t see too much change. I had a robust and healthy sex life before the experiment and continued to do so afterwards. I guess I was a bit more randier than usual, but not much. I’d imagine if you had been suffering from low T for a long time and took steps to increase it, you’d likely see improvement in the bedroom department.
In summary it’s important to know that this topic is still hotly debated, and there are a lot of inconsistencies in the data. We do know that soy contains phytoestrogens and does seem to have a lot of affects on the body, including some studies that show decreased Testosterone levels. For that reason (and the fact that it tastes like ass) I avoid it, and I recommend you also avoid it (in particular soy isolates!) if you’re seeking higher testosterone.
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).