When you're under a lot of stress, your body releases high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone actually blocks the effects of testosterone,6 presumably because, from a biological standpoint, testosterone-associated behaviors (mating, competing, aggression) may have lowered your chances of survival in an emergency (hence, the "fight or flight" response is dominant, courtesy of cortisol).
Longitudinal studies in male aging studies have shown that serum testosterone levels decline with age (Harman et al 2001; Feldman et al 2002). Total testosterone levels fall at an average of 1.6% per year whilst free and bioavailable levels fall by 2%–3% per year. The reduction in free and bioavailable testosterone levels is larger because aging is also associated with increases in SHBG levels (Feldman et al 2002). Cross-sectional data supports these trends but has usually shown smaller reductions in testosterone levels with aging (Feldman et al 2002). This is likely to reflect strict entry criteria to cross-sectional studies so that young healthy men are compared to older healthy men. During the course of longitudinal studies some men may develop pathologies which accentuate decreases in testosterone levels.
And then there’s also the fact that sodium bicarbonate tends to act as a molecular switch for the cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). And increased cAMP levels – as you might already know – correlate with increased T production since cAMP activates protein kinase A and serves as a secondary messenger between cells and hormones (study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study, study).
There is an increased incidence of hypogonadism in men with rheumatoid arthritis. Tengstrand et al (2002) studied hormonal levels in 104 men with rheumatoid arthritis and 99 age-matched healthy men. They divided their subjects into 3 age groups: 30–49, 40–59, 60–69. Mean non-sex hormone binding globulin-bound testosterone (bioavailable testosterone) was lower in men with rheumatoid arthritis for each of the three groups. LH was also found to be lower in the patients with rheumatoid arthritis suggesting a hypothalamic-pituitary cause of the reduced bioavailable testosterone. Of the 104 men with rheumatoid arthritis, 33 had hypogonadism compared to 7 of the 99 healthy controls.
A 12-month study found that supplementing with around 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day increased testosterone levels by around 25%. In the elderly, vitamin D and calcium also optimized testosterone levels, which led to a reduced risk of falling. To boost testosterone and reap the other benefits of vitamin D, try to get regular exposure to sunlight or take around 3,000 IU of a vitamin D3 supplement daily.
Testosterone belongs to a class of male hormones called androgens, which are sometimes called steroids or anabolic steroids. In men, testosterone is produced mainly in the testes, with a small amount made in the adrenal glands. The brain's hypothalamus and pituitary gland control testosterone production. The hypothalamus instructs the pituitary gland on how much testosterone to produce, and the pituitary gland passes the message on to the testes. These communications happen through chemicals and hormones in the bloodstream.
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.
Although some men believe that taking testosterone medications may help them feel younger and more vigorous as they age, few rigorous studies have examined testosterone therapy in men who have healthy testosterone levels. And some small studies have revealed mixed results. For example, in one study healthy men who took testosterone medications increased muscle mass but didn't gain strength.