Osteoporosis refers to pathological loss of bone density and strength. It is an important condition due to its prevalence and association with bone fractures; most commonly of the hip, vertebra and forearm. Men are relatively protected from the development of osteoporosis by a higher peak bone mass compared with women (Campion and Maricic 2003). Furthermore, women lose bone at an accelerated rate immediately following the menopause. Nevertheless, men start to lose bone mass during early adult life and experience an increase in the rate of bone loss with age (Scopacasa et al 2002). Women of a given age have a higher prevalence of osteoporosis in comparison to men but the prevalence increases with age in both sexes. As a result, men have a lower incidence of osteoporotic fractures than women of a given age but the gap between the sexes narrows with advancing age (Chang et al 2004) and there is evidence that hip fractures in men are associated with greater mortality than in women (Campion and Maricic 2003).
Low testosterone levels may contribute to decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fragile bones, and other health issues. Having low testosterone levels may also indicate an underlying medical condition. See your doctor if you suspect you have low testosterone. A simple blood test is all it takes to check if your testosterone falls within the normal range.
The effect excess testosterone has on the body depends on both age and sex. It is unlikely that adult men will develop a disorder in which they produce too much testosterone and it is often difficult to spot that an adult male has too much testosterone. More obviously, young children with too much testosterone may enter a false growth spurt and show signs of early puberty and young girls may experience abnormal changes to their genitalia. In both males and females, too much testosterone can lead to precocious puberty and result in infertility.
Testosterone functions within the brain. There are several lines of evidence for this: there are androgen receptors within the brain; testosterone is converted to both dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and estradiol by the actions of 5-α-reductase and aromatase respectively in the brain; steroid hormones promote neuronal cell growth and survival (Azad et al 2003). Testosterone enhances cerebral perfusion in hypogonadal men and that perfusion takes place specifically in Brodman areas 8 and 24, regions of the brain that are concerned with: strategic planning, higher motor action, cognitive behaviors, emotional behavior, generalized emotional reaction, wakefulness and memory (Greenlee 2000; Azad et al 2003). Studies of cognition demonstrate that older men with higher levels of free testosterone index (a surrogate measure of bioavailable testosterone) have better scores in tests of: visual memory, verbal memory, visuospatial functions and visuomotor scanning. Hypogonadal men have lower scores in tests of memory, visuospatial function, with a faster decline in visual memory (Moffat et al 2002). In a very small, short term placebo-controlled study hypogonadal men with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) treated with testosterone demonstrated a modest improvement in a cognition assessment score in AD (Tan and Pu 2003).
In many of the studies we found, those who saw the most improvement in health, testosterone, or muscle gain were those with existing nutrient or vitamin deficiencies. This means that some gains may be due more to dietary changes and generally restoring nutrient and vitamin levels than any one magic ingredient, but also that making sure your diet includes healthy amounts of nutrients should be your first step.
Testosterone is everywhere playing multiple roles from intrauterine life to advanced age. Table 1, the contents of which are always undergoing change primarily because of newly observed associations, provides an overview of the bodily systemic functions and patho-physiological states in which testosterone finds itself implicated. In some of these states there is a clear physiological cause and effect relationship. In others, evidence of the physiological role is early or tenuous.
That said, a group of researchers at the National University of Malaysia did a systemic literature review of longjack, looking for clinical research that demonstrated a relationship between the shrub and testosterone levels. Of 150 articles, only 11 met their inclusion criteria — involving humans and scientifically rigorous. However, of those 11 studies, seven “revealed remarkable association” between using longjack and improving male sexual health, while the remaining four “failed to demonstrate sufficient effects.” The team concluded that longjack looks “promising” when it comes to raising low testosterone, and that there is convincing evidence that it works.
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.
Looking for ingredients that work in the realm of supplements can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Testosterone boosters, like all dietary supplements, are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration prior to marketing. This lack of oversight dates back to the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which stipulated that purveyors of supplements weren’t required to prove the safety of their products or the veracity of what’s on the labels to the FDA before listing them for sale. Often, there isn’t a lot of scientific backing behind an ingredient, or research has been done solely on animals, not humans.
Many studies demonstrate an improvement in mood of hypogonadal men treated with testosterone (Wang et al 1996; Azad et al 2003). The relationship between testosterone status and mood, particularly depression, remains unresolved. Using Beck’s Depression Inventory, Barrett-Connor and colleagues found that the depression score worsened as men aged, exactly at a time when testosterone levels are decreasing (Barrett-Connor et al 1999). Pope and colleagues found that testosterone treatment in men with refractory depression lowered the Hamilton Depression rating scale and the Clinical Global Impression severity rating (Pope et al 2003). The Beck Depression Inventory remained unchanged in Pope’s study.
Hooper, D. R., Kraemer, W. J., Saenz, C., Schill, K. E., Focht, B. C., Volek, J. S. … Maresh, C. M. (2017, July). The presence of symptoms of testosterone deficiency in the exercise-hypogonadal male condition and the role of nutrition [Abstract]. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 117(7), 1349–1357. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28470410
Bhatia et al (2006) studied 70 male patients with type2 diabetes mellitus (age range 24–78 years). Thirty-seven subjects were found to have hypogonadism based on a calculated free testosterone level of less than 6.5 μg/dl. The hypogonadal group had a statistically significant lower hematocrit. Anemia was observed in 23% of the patients (16 out of 70). In 14 of 15 anemic patients calculated free testosterone was low.
Two of the immediate metabolites of testosterone, 5α-DHT and estradiol, are biologically important and can be formed both in the liver and in extrahepatic tissues. Approximately 5 to 7% of testosterone is converted by 5α-reductase into 5α-DHT, with circulating levels of 5α-DHT about 10% of those of testosterone, and approximately 0.3% of testosterone is converted into estradiol by aromatase. 5α-Reductase is highly expressed in the male reproductive organs (including the prostate gland, seminal vesicles, and epididymides), skin, hair follicles, and brain and aromatase is highly expressed in adipose tissue, bone, and the brain. As much as 90% of testosterone is converted into 5α-DHT in so-called androgenic tissues with high 5α-reductase expression, and due to the several-fold greater potency of 5α-DHT as an AR agonist relative to testosterone, it has been estimated that the effects of testosterone are potentiated 2- to 3-fold in such tissues.
Men who watch a sexually explicit movie have an average increase of 35% in testosterone, peaking at 60–90 minutes after the end of the film, but no increase is seen in men who watch sexually neutral films. Men who watch sexually explicit films also report increased motivation, competitiveness, and decreased exhaustion. A link has also been found between relaxation following sexual arousal and testosterone levels.
And remember, saturated fats work best (along with monounsaturated fats – olive oil, almonds, avocados etc.). In fact higher intakes of polyunsaturated fats (canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, margarine etc.) are linked to LOWER testosterone levels (14 & 15). I explore the dangers of PUFA's in a lot more detail in this article - PUFA's: The Worst Thing For Your Health That You Eat Everyday.
There have been case reports of development of prostate cancer in patients during treatment with testosterone, including one case series of twenty patients (Gaylis et al 2005). It is not known whether this reflects an increase in incidence, as prostate cancer is very common and because the monitoring for cancer in patients treated with testosterone is greater. Randomized controlled trials of testosterone treatment have found a low incidence of prostate cancer and they do not provide evidence of a link between testosterone treatment and the development of prostate cancer (Rhoden and Morgentaler 2004). More large scale clinical trials of longer durations of testosterone replacement are required to confirm that testosterone treatment does not cause prostate cancer. Overall, it is not known whether testosterone treatment of aging males with hypogonadism increases the risk of prostate cancer, but monitoring for the condition is clearly vital. This should take the form of PSA blood test and rectal examination every three months for the first year of treatment and yearly thereafter (Nieschlag et al 2005). Age adjusted PSA reference ranges should be used to identify men who require further assessment. The concept of PSA velocity is also important and refers to the rate of increase in PSA per year. Patients with abnormal rectal examination suggestive of prostate cancer, PSA above the age specific reference range or a PSA velocity greater than 0.75 ng/ml/yr should be referred to a urologist for consideration of prostate biopsy.
Men on long-term testosterone appear to have a higher risk of cardiovascular problems, like heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease. For example, in 2010, researchers halted the Testosterone in Older Men study when early results showed that men on hormone treatments had noticeably more heart problems. "In older men, theoretical cardiac side effects become a little more immediate," Dr. Pallais says.