by Nils Osmar. Updated July 27, 2023. Medical Disclaimer
Testosterone is an essential hormone. It’s present in both men and women. Males with high testosterone have been found to have lower body fat, stronger muscles, stronger bones, better verbal memories, better spatial abilities, better mathematical reasoning, better moods, and stronger libidos, than men with low testosterone. Low testosterone is associated with depression and with mood and memory problems in males.
In women, testosterone supports greater, endurance, stamina, and ability to maintain muscle mass, libido and sexual function. Interestingly, women actually have higher levels of testosterone than estrogen. (See study)
Levels decline with aging
Men’s testosterone levels decline about 1 percent per year after age 30. Women’s levels begin dropping when the woman is in her twenties.
Testosterone levels are also dropping in a general systemic sense worldwide in ways uncorrelated with aging. Today’s young men have T levels that are a fraction of those of their fathers and grandfathers, resulting in numerous health problems.
We can raise our levels
We can raise testosterone by doing strength training, taking testosterone boosting supplements, or using hormone replacement therapy. I’ve gone with the exercise and supplement route so far. If it ever stops working, I’ll then start in on HRT.
I take many different supplements, including ones that raise NAD+ levels, ones that increase glutathione, one that lower blood glucose, and ones that boost hGH levels.
Ones I’m taking
I’ve found the ones below helpful in raising testosterone. I take them regularly, but usually take the weekends off. Note: I’ve included Amazon affiliate links for some of the products. If you click on them and end up buying a product, I may make a few dollars.
- Tongkat Ali (1200 mg). There’s some argument about whether tongkat ali really lives up to its hype. The studies I’ve seen suggest that, while it’s not the “second coming” in terms of restoring testosterone to youthful levels, it can be beneficial, especially if taken in conjunction with certain other supplements. People often take it on an empty stomach, but the studies suggest that Tongkat Ali is best taken with a large meal. See study: Effect of Tongkat Ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects The type of tongkat ali I’m currently taking is Horbach supplement’s “Longjack”. Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3H7rkHV
- DHEA from Life Extension I’m currently taking one to three 25 mg capsules three times a week. It appears to be most effective at increasing testosterone when taken while doing resistance training. Two cautions: It can also raise estrogen levels, and in large doses, DHEA supplements are associated with an increased risk of cancer. See study: Effect of acute DHEA administration on free testosterone in middle-aged and young men following high-intensity interval training Amazon link: https://amzn.to/43Ny5Zc
- Fish oil (I take four capsules of purified fish oil (high in both EPA and DHA) in the morning, and also eat lots of fatty fish) (fish oil raises T levels and has been found to increases the size of the testicles in human studies, in young men). See study: Associations of Fish Oil Supplement Use With Testicular Function in Young Men Note: I ran out of fish oil recently and have not yet reordered, mainly because I eat sardines and/or anchovies every day. Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3AlX20p
- Fadogia agrestis from Barlowe Herbal Elixers. I take one 600 mg. capsule every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Studies in rats have shown that damage to the testes can occur at higher dose. There’s no evidence that I’m aware of, of similar damage in humans, but I limit it to three days a week as a precaution. See study: Effects of oral administration of aqueous extract of Fadogia agrestis (Schweinf. Ex Hiern). Note: Some people take this product with food; others take it on an empty stomach. I’m currently taking a product from Barlowe Herbs which I get a real boost from. Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3H4Tq6A
- Boron from Jarrow (5 mg) (increases free testosterone) (Don’t overdose on boron; it’s essential but can be deadly in large doses) Studies have shown that it “significantly increases” free testosterone. I take it three times a week. See study I’m using an inexpensive product from Nutricost. Amazon link: https://amzn.to/43ZtnrE
- L. Reuteri 6475 from BioGaia (1 capsule) I actually don’t take the supplement, but instead make a yogurt from it; the yogurt is much richer in probiotics per serving. In animal studies, this particular strain raises T levels and increases testicle size in males, (See study: Lactobacillus reuteri Consumption Increases Testicular Weight of Mice Fed with Normal Diet) In females, it’s been shown to slow the loss of bone after menopause. (See study: Lactobacillus reuteri reduces bone loss in older women with low bone mineral density: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, clinical trial) Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3V23vHy
- Male Libido from Gaia Herbs (2 capsules) (contains horny goat weed, tribulus, tongkat ali, oats, maca and some other herbs) I like it and get a boost from it, but one problem with this supplement is that it has a “proprietary blend’, meaning the label doesn’t state how much of each ingredient you’re taking. Addendum: To economize and get more of the product in my body, I like making a yogurt from it from A2 milk, inulin and the probiotic. Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3oqlf2P
I sometimes also take…
The ones above are my core T-boosting supplements. But I also sometimes take the ones below:
- Ashwagandha from Gaia Herbs (1 capsule) (Note: Ashwagandha is a relaxant, associated with better sleep. I sometimes take it in the morning, but other times at night. For more information or to purchase it, go to: https://amzn.to/3H78IHY
- Astragalus from Gaia Herbs (1 capsule) Amazon link: https://amzn.to/41uxFoZ
- D. Aspartic Acid from Jacked Factors (four capsules) (This isn’t a bad product; I may resume taking it at some point; but I’m not currently doing so.) Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3LmGbkf
- Horny Goat Weed (Nutricost) (2 capsules). I like Horbaach’s product. Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3V6hFHC
Do I really need all of them?
It’s hard to say. It may be that I could do fine with just taking tongkat ali, fadogia agrestis, DHEA and L. Reuteri. But when I’ve cut back in the past, my levels have started sliding downward again. When I added more supplements in, my testosterone have, again, started rising.
My test results
My results are interesting (to me), but may take some deciphering.
- Ten years ago, when I was 60, my level was 803 ng/dL. After that, probably due to the aging process, my T started dropping. I was still taking DHEA, but by the time I was 67, my T was down to 579 ng/dL.
- My doctor told me this was just “natural aging” and not to worry about it, but I found the drop alarming. So I started trying different things to see if I could reverse it.
- I added in the supplements above, and within a few months of starting them, my levels had risen to 826 ng/dL (My doctor told me he thought I must have started on testosterone replacement therapy.)
- I then added in some resistance training, and a few months later, my T levels reached the highest they had been since I started testing, i.e., 973 ng/dL.
I cut back on supplementing…
- I made a change at that point which turned out to be a bad one: I cut way back on supplementing. Instead of taking T boosters daily, I began taking them irregularly, just once or twice a week. And I cut back to just taking the first four on the list.
- A few months later (in the summer of 2022) my T levels had dropped to 425 ng/dL.
- I had gained about ten pounds of weight during this period, so the extra body fat may also have been depressing my T levels.
I started supplementing again.…
- I started taking the supplements again, and in January of this year, at the age of 70, my T had gone up to 684 ng/dL – not as high as my earlier maximum, but moving in the right direction.
- My goal for 2023 is to lose about 15 pounds, “lean up”, and see if I can raise my T back into the 800s or 900s. I’lll be having it tested again soon.
Me at 70
- While my levels have been going up and down over the years, I have still been able to keep building muscle. So in that sense I’m satisfied with my protocol.
- The above video shows what I looked like a few weeks ago (December 3, 2022). I’m not massive by any means, but looking much better than I did before I started supplementing and working out.
One of my supplements…
- One of the supplements in my stack, tongkat ali, improves erectile dysfunction in older men, promotes an anabolic state, improves endurance and stamina, boosts sperm count by 65.5% after nine months of use, increases seminal volume, improves the health of sperm, and improves immune health. If I were aiming to start a family I would include it in my stack.
- See study: A 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial to evaluate the effect of Eurycoma longifolia (Tongkat Ali) and concurrent training on erectile function and testosterone levels in androgen deficiency of aging males (ADAM)
- A Youtube blogger with followers in the anti-aging community recently declared that tongkat ali has no benefits; I have to wonder if he’s seen the above study.
“What have you learned, Dorothy?”
- I’m still figuring it out, honestly.
- It appears to me, looking back, that my levels went up initially because I started taking T-boosting supplements and working out. They dropped because I stopped taking taking the supplements consistently.
- But another factor may have been that I cut back on fasting.
- I’m still happy, all in all, with the results of supplementation. I have no question that the supplements work. But I plan to keep a closer eye on my levels moving forward. If I drop below 500, I’ll consider starting on testosterone replacement therapy.
What about diet?
I’ve tried lots of diets over the years. When I was vegan, my testosterone levels dropped. The longer I ate 100% plant-based, the more they plummeted. My sex drive also went away.
I talked to my doctor, who told me, “Oh, it’s just age related… that happens to all men.” He was wrong. I added meat, eggs, fish, and some dairy back into my diet, and my interest in sex came back within a few days (after three years of declining interest). The problem that time was my diet.
My diet these days has lots of foods from plant, animal and fungal (mushroom) sources. I eat lots of beef, lamb fish, shrimp, and poultry, salads, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, apples, avocados, and berries, I don’t eat plants or animals from industrial (CAFO) farms. The animals I eat are all from family farms where I can verify that they had good lives, had access to pasture, were protected from predators, and were ethically slaughtered when the time came.
Before and after:
By taking supplements, eating a balanced (all-organic) diet, and working out several days a week in my home gym (three days on my upper body; three days on my legs, glutes and core), I’ve been able to reverse age-related muscle wasting. The photos above show what I looked like two years ago (at the age of 67) and today at the age of 69. See the posts below for more details.
Not medical advice
This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplement(s), just reporting on what I’m doing. Supplements, like medications and other interventions, can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen, and consult with a medical professional about any issues which might have a medical component. See full Medical Disclaimer
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