Testosterone is the main sex hormone that men have. It controls male physical features. The testes (testicles) make testosterone. Testosterone helps bring on the physical changes that turn a boy into a man. This time of life is called puberty. Changes include
Testosterone is very important to a man, of any age. Symptoms of low Testosterone include:
Low Testosterone is also associated with Type 2 diabetes. That’s some serious stuff! So basically low Testosterone can seriously screw up your quality of life. And bear in mind that a man’s Testosterone level normally declines at the rate of approximately 1% per year from age forty years (12), so the middle aged man needs to do all he can to maximize his Testosterone levels.
If you want to maintain your Testosterone levels, and who wouldn’t, given the impact that low Testosterone has on a man’s wellbeing, the following is a list of medically proven steps a middle aged guy can take to maximize his testosterone levels.
There is a long known medically proven relationship between being overweight and low Testosterone, both free Testosterone and the binding hormone SGBH (1). Body Mass Index (BMI) (read about BMI here), a measure of a person’s healthy weight, is strongly inverse correlated to testosterone level. Studies have confirmed that lower serum levels of total Testosterone and SHBG occur with participant BMI >25, which is considered overweight or obese.
Bear in mind that a BMI of 25 as an indicator of excess weight, should be considered a guide only. BMI is a “broad brush tool”, and uses assumptions regarding a "normal" body weight average height and fitness or activity level. Several issues arise with this method and those are listed below:
Nonetheless if you are overweight then you are lowering your Testosterone!!
Aside from lower testosterone another reason to lose weight in middle age is that obese men are also at increased risk developing type 2 diabetes!! (4)
Emerging evidence suggests that dietary fats may influence testicular function (5). Specifically:
Whilst it is difficult to accurately extract relationships such as this given the high number of contributing factors which can and do influence hormone levels, recent work (5) does indicate that the intake of omega‑3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega‑6 polyunsaturated fatty acids was positively related to testicular volume while the intake of trans fatty acids was inversely related to testicular volume.
Typical sources are:
Trans fats can be found in many foods including:
Zinc plays an important role in modulating serum Testosterone levels in normal men. Studies (16, 17) have concluded that a deficiency in zinc is known to cause low Testosterone, and that zinc supplementation can correct this and increase Testosterone levels.
Further studies (18) have shown zinc supplementation can improve athletic performance and increase Testosterone levels in healthy athletes who compete in exhaustion sports.
Recommended intake of zinc for healthy males is 11mg per day.
Zinc intake can be sourced from the right diet. Foods high in zinc are:
Supplements may contain several forms of zinc, including zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate. The percentage of elemental zinc varies by form. For example, approximately 23% of zinc sulfate consists of elemental zinc; thus, 220 mg of zinc sulfate contains 50 mg of elemental zinc. So be sure to take the right dosage of zinc supplement.
Medical studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficient men and low testosterone (6). Men with sufficient Vitamin D had significantly higher levels of Testosterone and significantly lower levels of SHBG when compared to men deficient in Vitamin D. This same study also confirmed seasonal variations in male Testosterone levels, which has also been identified in other studies (7). It is also of interest that a peak in conception rate during summer leading to a maximum in birth rate in spring has been observed in northern countries. Athletic performance also peaks in late summer and declines during winter. Whilst Testosterone is not the only determinant for fertility or athletic performance these statistically verified observed trends further support the probable relationship between Vitamin D levels and androgen levels in men.
Such relationships also confirm that reduced sunlight over winter months may mean you could be vitamin D deficient during this time, depending on where you live?
While Vitamin D is synthesized by the body with enough sun exposure, it can also be taken orally either from food or as a supplement. The recommended dietary intake is from 400 to 600 IU (international units) for people up to age 70.
Food sources with high levels of Vitamin D are:
If it is likely you are not getting enough sunlight, then look to food and supplements for increased Vitamin D intake to be sure it is not impairing your Testosterone level.
There are many references confirming the link between alcohol consumption to male fertility issues including lower Testosterone levels, and several studies (11, 13) have confirmed that a direct link between ethanol consumption and hormonal profiles is evident. One researcher reviewed the outcomes from a large number of medical studies, and concluded an ethanol dose administration greater than 1.5 g/kg showed a decrease in testosterone serum levels.
This underlines a dose dependent physiological mechanism related to ethanol consumption. Assuming that a glass of beer is around 12 oz. (355 ml) and on average with an alcohol content between 4.5 and 6%, for a 70 Kg man this dose would correspond to 5–6 glasses of beer.
So if you want to maximise your Testosterone then the heavy drinking sessions need to stop, but you should have already worked that out before you reach middle age? However, this doesn’t mean you need to give up alcohol completely though, as lower doses of alcohol have shown no measurable reduction in Testosterone (whew).
We all know that physical exercise promotes many health benefits (10). However, some medical studies (9, 14, 15) have demonstrated that strength exercises particularly, lead to measurable increases in a man’s Testosterone level.
And consider also other benefits of resistance training such as:
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