Testosterone is an important hormone for both men and women, but its role in men is greater than in women. It contributes to male sexual health and development, fertility and muscle gain, fat loss, and many other aspects of good health. (1).
Testosterone levels decline with age. There's also concern about a decline in testosterone levels in the United States. Lifestyle habits and lifestyle factors may play a role as well. (2).
Some supplements claim to boost testosterone, and some people choose to use them in hopes that they increase their testosterone levels, either by boosting their testosterone directly or by preventing their bodies from converting testosterone into estrogen, which may be harmful to men.
Testosterone plays an important role in men’s health.
Testosterone is the main male sex hormone. It affects bodily functions such as:
- Sperm production
- Sexual performance
- Muscle strength and size
- Bone health and strength
- May play a role in hair loss later in life
Testosterone may play additional important roles that we haven't discovered yet. It's difficult to calculate your ideal level of testosterone. Levels can change over time and even within a single day.
Can Supplements Boost Testosterone?
Several different types of supplements claim to increase your testosterone level. The results are inconsistent. Some of these supplements include:
D-Aspartic acid is an essential amino acid. It may increase levels of follicular stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. Both of these may increase testosterone levels.
However, subsequent research found that taking three grams of D-aspartic acid didn't affect testosterone levels. Taking six grams lowered levels.
Zinc is an important mineral for your healthy body functioning. Low zinc levels have been linked to low testosterone. Zinc may help increase testosterone levels in the testes. Long-term zinc supplements may lead to increased testosterone.
Magnesium supplementation has been shown to increase testosterone levels. It might work for both sedentary individuals and athletes. Remember that people who exercise tend to have higher testosterone levels.
You can get enough Vitamin D from the sunlight without any supplements. People who don't get enough sun exposure may be deficient in vitamin D. A year-long study showed that men who took 3300 units of vitamin D daily increased testosterone levels by 20 percent over those who did not.
Other Natural Testosterone Boosters
Natural ways to boost testosterone levels include supplements and a healthy lifestyle. Several lifestyle interventions may improve your testosterone levels and help you live longer and healthier.
Exercise can increase your levels of testosterone. Weightlifting and HIIT are the best exercises for increasing testosterone levels. Weightlifting is the best exercise to boost testosterone levels.
Muscle building triggers the production of testosterone. By contrast, endurance exercise like cycling for hours or long runs can have adverse effects on testosterone levels.
Making a healthy lifestyle choice is important for your health. If you're obese, you are four times more likely to benefit from TRT than non-obese people.
Low testosterone levels are directly linked to obesity. Aging 10 years increases your odds for low testosterone by 36 percent, but a 4-inch (10 cm) increase in waist size may raise your chances by up to 74 percent.
Sleep is essential for good physical health. Lack of quality sleep can interfere with your body's natural testosterone production. It can also lead you to gain weight. This can further reduce testosterone production.
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that help regulate stress. Cortisol is a stress hormone that works against testosterone. Cortisol is a hormone that affects testosterone levels. Cortisol increases appetite. It can increase your weight and lower your testosterone.
Stress can lower your testosterone levels in several ways. Manage stress positively, and you may naturally boost healthy testosterone levels.
Here are 7 supplements that may help increase testosterone levels.
A quick look at the all-natural testosterone boosters
- Best vitamin D supplement: Nature Made Vitamin D3
- Best fenugreek supplement: NOW Supplements, Fenugreek
- Best saw palmetto supplement: Bulk Supplements Saw Palmetto
- Best ginger supplement: Pure Encapsulations Ginger Extract
- Best DHEA supplement: Life Extension DHEA
- Best zinc supplement: Thorne Research - Zinc Picolinate
- Best ashwagandha supplement: Organic Ashwagandha
When to consider testosterone supplements
If you're looking for a simple way to increase your normal testosterone level naturally, some of these booster supplements may be helpful.
If you're experiencing severe symptoms of low testosterone, such as low energy levels or decreased libido, or if you're having trouble conceiving, please talk to your doctor about testosterone treatment.
Natural testosterone boosters contain natural ingredients, so they don't cause any serious side effects. Here are some minor issues you may encounter.
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep apnea
- Increase red blood cell count
- Low blood sugar level
If you're going to use supplements, then you should be aware of the potential side effects. Each of these boosters has been backed by scientific evidence, so you don't need to worry about side effects.
Best vitamin D supplement
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that your body produces when exposed to sunlight. People who live in dark climates may be deficient in vitamin D.
Vitamin D is an important steroid hormone in the body. It is essential for male sexual health. (7). Research has suggested that low blood levels of vitamin D may be linked to reduced testosterone levels in men. (8, 9).
A small study showed that 10 days of sun exposure plus 6 weeks of vitamin D supplements led to significant increases in both vitamin D and testosterone levels among soccer players. (10).
If you're deficient, vitamin D supplementation may help. Most guidelines recommend daily dosages of 400–2,500 IU of vitamin D is the optimal level to prevent deficiency (11).
Nature Made offers a convenient way to get your daily dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is better absorbed by the body than vitamin D2. (12). Not only is it free of unnatural colors and flavors, but it’s also third-party tested for quality and safety by (USP).
Best fenugreek supplement
Fenugreek is another popular herbal supplement that could support healthy testosterone production, though more research is required.
Men who took 600 mg of Fenugreek seed extract daily for twelve weeks experienced a significant increase of testosterone levels, along with improved sexual function compared to a placebo. (13).
Another study found that taking 500 mg of Fenugreek extract daily for 12 weeks increased free testosterone levels by 46% in 90% (or 9 out of 10) of participants. It also improved mental health and mood in most participants. (14).
Authors of a 2020 review concluded that fenugreek extract can enhance testosterone levels effectively (15). However, the evidence for fenugreek is not conclusive, and larger, longer-term studies are needed before we can draw any firm conclusions.
NOW Fenugreek contains 500 mg of organic fennel seed extract, which is the same dosage used in some studies to increase testosterone levels in middle-aged men. It’s free from common allergens, like gluten, soy, eggs, and milk.
Now supplements are certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which means they adhere to strict manufacturing standards to guarantee purity and potency.
Best saw palmetto supplement
Saw palmetto is a type of palm tree that’s often taken as a supplement to help prevent hair loss and treat BPH. (3).
Saw palmetto may also help increase testosterone levels by blocking an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). (4).
A study found that taking a supplement containing saw palmetto and astaxanthin increased testosterone levels by 38%. But this wasn't statistically significant (5).
Saw palmetto extract increased testosterone production by altering hormone regulation in rats. It also improved muscle strength and sperm count. However, these results have not yet been confirmed in humans. (6).
BulkSupplements offers a high-quality Saw Palmetto supplement designed to support prostate and hormone health. The supplement comes in soft gel and powder form, both free of added sugar, dairy, and soy ingredients.
Each soft gel capsule has 320 mg of saw palmetto extract, while one tablespoon (500 ml) of the powder provides 1,000 mg of saw palmetto extract.
Best ginger supplement
Ginger has been used for hundreds of years as alternative medicine. It appears to have numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation and cholesterol levels. It may also boost testosterone levels. (16).
Ginger has been shown to improve normal testosterone levels and sexual functions in animals. Ginger increases testosterone and luteinizing hormone levels in rats with diabetes. (17). Other studies have shown that giving rats ginger increases their testosterone levels.
A study conducted in 2012 found that 75 men with infertility took an oral supplement containing ginger. After three months, they experienced a significant increase in testosterone levels, as well as an almost doubling of their LH levels.
Researchers found several improvements in sperm health, including an increase in sperm count by 16%. Ginger is safe and may offer several other health benefits.
Pure Encapsulations' Ginger Extract provides 500 mg per capsule of ginger extract and is non-GMAO, hypoallergenic, and gluten-free. All Pure Encapsulations products undergo independent lab testing to ensure that they're safe for consumption.
Best DHEA supplement
DHEA is a hormone primarily produced by your adrenals. It helps manage testosterone levels and estrogen levels. Many people supplement with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which is an anabolic hormone, to boost their testosterone levels.
Research suggests that taking DHEA supplements may increase testosterone levels, especially as we age. (21, 22). As with most supplements, the effects are mixed, and other trials using similar doses have found no effect. (23). It could potentially benefit those with lower DHEA or testosterone.
Life Extension offers a wide variety of high-quality supplements. These include DHEA, which is backed by a satisfaction guarantee, among others. COAs are also offered for any products upon request.
Life Extension DHEAS contains 25mg of DHEA in every capsule and is gluten-free and non-GMO. Keep in mind that DHEAS is banned in professional sports. However, the effects of DHEAS on testosterone levels and athletic performance aren't clear.
Best zinc supplement
Zinc is an essential mineral that contributes to over 100 chemical processes within the body. Zinc has been linked to men’s sexual function, including testosterone levels. Low zinc levels can negatively impact men’s sexual health and fertility. (25).
A study found that men with low testosterone who were infertile may benefit from taking 220 mg zinc sulfate twice daily for up to 4 months, especially if their blood levels of zinc are low (26).
A study in 116 postmenopause women with low zinc levels showed that zinc supplementation increased testosterone and improved overall sexual function. (27). Adding Thorne Research's Zinc Picolinate supplement to your daily activities can help you get more zinc into your body quickly and easily.
It contains 30 milligrams of zinc, which is free from gluten, dairy, soy, and synthetic chemicals. Each product is manufactured in an NSF-certified facility that follows cGMPs established by the FDA.
Best ashwagandha supplement
Ashwagandha is an herb used in Ayuvavedic medicine. Ashwagandha is primarily used as an Adaptogen, which means it helps your body handle stress and anxiety. (29).
A study found that it could improve sperm quality in men with fertility issues. After taking 5 grams of creatine daily for three months, the participants experienced an average of a 10–22% boost in their testosterone levels. Furthermore, the partners of 14 percent of participants became pregnant. (30).
Another study suggests that ashwagandha boosts physical performance, strength, fat loss, and testosterone levels. (31). Taking 600 mg Ashwagandha extract for eight weeks increased testosterone levels by nearly 14 percent compared to a placebo. (32).
Ashwagandha may be able to help increase testosterone levels in men who are under stress. However, larger studies need to be done.
MyKind Organics' Ashwagandha stress & mood contains 600 mg of organic ashwagandha root extract as its active ingredients, the same dosage used in the study above.
This supplement also includes organic fermented ginger root, which may help boost testosterone levels. (16). The supplement is certified Gluten-Free by NSF International.
When to see a doctor
If you're concerned about low levels of testosterone, or if you're experiencing symptoms like:
- decreased sex drive
- erectile dysfunction
- muscle loss
- hot flashes
Your healthcare provider can test your blood levels to determine whether you have low testosterone and need to develop a treatment plan for you. They can also look at other factors or conditions that might be causing your low testosterone levels.
Before adding any supplements to your daily routine, especially if you're taking other medications that may have potential side effects, talk to your doctor first.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes low testosterone?
Testosterone levels can be low for many reasons. Age is one of several common causes of low testosterone levels. According to Dr. Joseph M. Brito, testosterone levels start to decline as early as 30 yrs of age.
Men who've had testicular cancer or who're receiving treatment for conditions, like prostate cancers, may have lower levels of testosterone. Pituitary abnormalities or brain tumors may also be a cause of low sex drive.
Brito explains that multiple factors can cause low testosterone levels, including:
- nutritional deficiencies
- not getting enough sleep
How do I know if I have low testosterone?
Testosterone deficiency can cause a wide variety of symptoms, some of which may not be related to low testosterone levels at all. According to Brito (2017), some signs that you may be low in testosterone include:
- low energy levels
- decreased libido
- loss of muscle mass
- mood changes
- hot flashes
If you suspect you might have low testosterone, your physician can check your blood levels.
Home testing is also available, most of them using either a blood or saliva test to measure your testosterone levels. However, as Briton points out, there‘s limited research on the efficacy of these tests and how well they compare to blood tests.
Are testosterone boosters worth it?
Over-the-counter supplements are not evaluated by the FDA, so men need to be aware of common side effects.
Some products aren't created equally, and some may not be as effective as others. One study found that only 30 percent of men experienced an increase in their testosterone levels after taking five over-the-counter testosterone boosters. (33).
You should consider using natural ingredients that have been scientifically proven to be safe and choose supplements that have been third-party tested.
It’s important to note that some people may need extra caution when using supplements, especially those who take other medications or have underlying medical conditions.
Only a few testosterone-boosting supplements have significant research to support them. Some of these natural testosterone supplements won't have any noticeable effects on most people. Some studies suggest that high levels of cortisol may be associated with low testosterone levels.
Most supplements may be effective for healthy and active people, such as weightlifters, but there isn't enough evidence to confirm this yet. Furthermore, the long-term health effects of taking most of these supplements have not been established.
Before using any of the health supplements mentioned above, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional first to avoid adverse side effects.