- The evidence backing the testosterone-boosting effects of popular supplements is scant.
- Supplements contain a mishmash of ingredients that create a false impression of higher testosterone levels.
- If your testosterone levels are normal, it makes no sense to try to boost them.
- If you want to boost your testosterone to defeat ED, turn to FDA-approved drugs like Viagra and Cialis instead.
Researchers have found little evidence that the popular testosterone-boosting supplements work. Some of them may make an insignificant difference, while others don’t work at all. It is difficult to determine their efficacy due to the complexity of the science.
The Problems with Testosterone Supplements and ED Supplements
Every dietary supplement and vitamin shop seems to carry testosterone supplements these days. Bodybuilders use them to boost muscle growth. Some buy them hoping that they will help with ED.
Others hope to address legitimate medical problems like hypogonadism (low T) through supplementation. But do testosterone supplements work?
Unfortunately, science can’t confirm the alleged benefits of androgen-boosting supplements. Here’s why:
- The FDA categorizes supplements differently than food or drugs. They only concern themselves with whether products are adulterated or mislabeled. Otherwise, supplement makers are free to use the ingredients they see fit and claim shoddy science as proof of efficacy.
- Some of the ingredients used in testosterone supplements boost energy levels in other ways. Thus, they give the impression that they work, but they don’t raise testosterone levels in your blood.
- The supplements that work at all only achieve limited effects. The testosterone boost they create rarely lasts longer than a month.
- Even when they contain ingredients that may boost testosterone, the doses are too small to make a difference.
- It is difficult to measure long-term changes in testosterone levels. It is, therefore, almost impossible to verify the claims of supplement makers.
What Does Science Say?
A 2021 study looked at the most popular testosterone and ED supplements in the U.S. The conclusions it drew were not encouraging. It found that:
- None of the 32 products it assessed presented any solid evidence about their efficacy.
- Only 19 percent of the ingredients used in the products had strong positive evidence concerning efficacy.
- Around 68 percent of the ingredients had dubious or no testosterone-boosting effects.
Supplement makers like to mesh together as many “hype” ingredients as possible, paying little attention to dosages. The study found that 69 percent of testosterone supplement ingredients and 53 percent of ED supplement ingredients had some scientific backing. But it did not consider dosages.
Popular Testosterone-boosting Compounds
Testosterone supplements and ED supplements typically contain a cocktail of ingredients. Some of these ingredients can raise testosterone levels in your blood, while others have no effect at all.
Popular ingredients used in these supplements are:
- A range of B vitamins. These can raise energy levels in consumers, giving a false impression that they have boosted their testosterone.
- Zinc. It can raise natural energy levels but can also boost testosterone.
- Arginine. This compound may qualify as a mild anti-ED solution. It has shown promise in large doses of 1,500 to 5,000 milligrams. Few, if any, supplements contain such generous doses of the compound, however.
- Yohimbine. Research suggests that yohimbine increases sexual arousal. It appears to do so without any effect on testosterone production/levels.
- Horny goat weed. This herb achieves its erection-boosting effects not by boosting testosterone but by inhibiting certain compounds. Higher doses actually may lower testosterone levels in the blood.
- Aspartate. A popular ingredient in testosterone-boosting products, aspartate may reduce estradiol levels, but researchers have found that it does not impact testosterone levels in any way.
With ingredients like these, it’s hardly surprising that testosterone-boosting supplements disappoint. The same goes for ED supplements. Some of these compounds do facilitate erections, but their effect is minimal and short-lived.
Should You Boost Your Testosterone Levels?
If you’re looking to boost your testosterone to feel better or improve your athletic performance, you may want to think again.
Your hormonal system is a complex biochemical machine. By boosting your hormones arbitrarily, you can cause more harm than good.
Doctors can boost testosterone levels through testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in patients who need it. If your doctor does not recommend such an approach, you’re better off to forget about it.
TRT entails the ingestion or injection of testosterone. There are various products doctors may recommend, such as pills, patches, gels, and injections. Some products deliver bioidentical testosterone. Others contain synthetic hormones.
What can you gain from TRT? Testosterone supplementation can have beneficial effects for some men. For example:
- If you have hypogonadism, TRT may help you get better. With your testosterone levels within a normal range again, you feel energized, stronger, and more capable of getting busy between the sheets.
- You may find it easier to build muscles, and your bones may gain density.
- Your risk of heart disease may drop.
There is a price to pay for those benefits, however. Artificially raising your testosterone level entails some risks.
- Acne is one of the potential side effects of higher testosterone levels.
- Your body may retain more fluid, and you may develop sleep apnea.
- Higher testosterone levels may lower your blood sugar.
- You may get more red blood cells.
- Your breasts may become tender and enlarged.
- You may develop problems with your prostate, and your sperm quality may decrease.
Boost Your Testosterone Levels Naturally
Instead of resorting to unregulated, hail-Mary solutions to increase your testosterone, try cleaning up your diet and habits instead.
- Reduce stress. Meditate and avoid stressful situations.
- Get more quality sleep. Practice better sleep hygiene.
- Eat less sugar. Cut back on sweets. In addition to causing diabetes long term, sugar also reduces your testosterone levels.
- Work out. Regular exercise promotes health in many ways. Working out with weights boosts testosterone and muscle mass. Moderate aerobic exercise can improve your testosterone level as well.
- Clean up your diet. Start eating foods rich in potassium and zinc.
Do Testosterone Supplements Work?
Some of them may work to some degree. Many don’t. When they’re administered without a diagnosis and a prescription from a doctor, none of them makes sense. You can boost your testosterone naturally by adopting a cleaner, healthier lifestyle.
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James spent the better part of the last decade studying and writing about the physiology of sleep and its correlations with dreams. He studied various drugs, natural substances, and hallucinogens that can impact the intensity and frequency of dreams.
For two years, he busted dietary supplement scams, analyzing various performance-enhancing compounds, nootropics, etc.