Dude’s Foods January 2017: Nutrition to Support Healthy Testosterone in Men

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Nutrition to Support Healthy Testosterone in Men

We hear a lot about female hormones and the role they play in women’s health, but of course men have hormones too! The primary male sex hormone is testosterone, which regulates many functions in the body including muscle growth and libido. Testosterone (T) levels decline with age, and low levels are associated with depression, weight gain, fatigue and erectile dysfunction. Not surprisingly, maintaining healthy testosterone levels is a big concern for many men, especially as they age.

“Low T” clinics have sprung up in recent years to address this problem, but some rely on artificial methods that can have unwanted side effects. This month’s Dude’s Foods will provide a more natural approach to supporting and maintaining healthy testosterone levels.

First we need to understand a little bit about hormones in the body. Hormones are chemical messengers that are made from cholesterol, a nutrient that has been maligned over the last few decades as a causative factor in heart disease. However, newer research is beginning to question whether this long-held belief is really true.i

Because cholesterol is the essential substrate needed to manufacture testosterone, its importance cannot be overstated. Before we review good food sources of cholesterol, let’s look at a couple of lifestyle factors that can interrupt testosterone production. The first factor is stress.

When the body is subjected to high levels of stress, cholesterol that is destined to become testosterone is “hijacked” to instead make cortisol, a primary stress hormone.ii For this reason, managing stress is critical to maintaining and rebuilding testosterone levels. Excessively high or low calorie intake and skipping meals are major sources of stress on the body that are correlated with low testosterone levels.

A second lifestyle factor contributing to low T is a lack of exercise. Research shows that exercise increases testosterone levels, and the benefit appears to be proportional to the intensity of the exercise.iii In other words, strenuous exercise like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) tends to provide a bigger boost in testosterone levels than a leisurely walk around the block.

But of course, everyone is different and a stressed out business executive may benefit more from a relaxing walk or yoga session than from doing HIIT or CrossFit, which may be a source of added stress on his body. Conversely, a retiree who has become a bit of a couch potato would likely benefit more from a more strenuous exercise program.

In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, the foods we eat have a big impact on testosterone levels.

Good sources of cholesterol include egg yolks, meat, poultry, and dairy.

Other important nutrients related to testosterone production include:

  • Vitamin D: Low levels are associated with low T.iv Good food sources include salmon, sardines, dairy, eggs and Shiitake mushrooms.
  • Boron: Good food sources include beans, nuts, avocados, berries, plums, oranges and grapes.v
  • Vitamin C: Protects Leydig cells in the testicles that produce testosterone.vi Found in papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries and pineapple.
  • Vitamin K2: Enhances testosterone production in rats.vii  Found in egg yolks, sauerkraut, butter and liver.
  • Zinc: Nutrient that is highly concentrated in the testicles.viii Found in beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils and beans.
  • Magnesium: Another mineral that helps increase testosterone levels.ix Found in pumpkin and sesame seeds, spinach, Swiss chard and quinoa.

By eating the right foods and managing stress, men can support healthy testosterone levels naturally and avoid needing to resort to artificial means.


i https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19852882
ii http://paleoforwomen.com/hpa-axis-what-is-pregnenolone-steal/
iii http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-testosterone
iv https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195
vi https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22731648
vii http://lipidworld.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-511X-10-158
viii https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17984944
ix http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20352370


Aaron Mello is a Master Nutrition Therapist and founder of MoodFood Clinic.  He can be contacted at 720-683-8715 or aaron@moodfoodclinic.com, or view his website at www.moodfoodclinic.com.


Nutrition Therapy Institute (NTI) creates optimal health through nutrition education. If you are interested in learning more about nutrition therapy and the comprehensive education offered at NTI click here.

Image:  testosterone & horsepower by Ed Schipul is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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