Sunday, October 27, 2019
Testosterone - the sequel
This graphic is from Spectracell labs and covers almost everything I'm discussing today - how nutrients affect hormone production, specifically testosterone.
Some of these nutrients you would expect to get in your regular diet but the 'Standard American Diet' or SAD is dramatically void of the required nutrients because of over processing and soil depletion from over-farming.
In my Functional Medicine practice I test for vitamin and mineral levels and frequently see many deficiencies. Most common is vitamin D deficiency. The reference range is usually around 30-100 ng/ml (very wide) but optimal levels are above 50, which I rarely see in people who do not supplement. Vitamin D regulates the production of testosterone (acting like a hormone) so low vitamin D means low production of testosterone.
Vitamin K2 (there are two main forms of K - K1 and K2) is necessary for the enzyme which drives testosterone production to work so a deficiency in K2 will result in lower testosterone. There are now some high quality supplement manufacturers that are offering vitamin D3 and K2 in a combination form since both are also needed for maintenance of strong bones by helping move calcium into your bones. Talk to your integrative or functional medicine doctor about what dose might be right for you.
Most people do not need to supplement vitamin E as it is found in olives, olive oil, avocados, almonds, shrimp, squash, sunflower seeds, spinach and broccoli. Doses above the minimum recommended amounts for a long period of time may lower testosterone.
Folate and B6 are important B vitamins that support healthy testosterone levels. Here is a report on an association between low folic acid levels and erectile dysfunction. Leafy green vegetables like spinach, oranges and other citrus fruits and whole grains are good sources of folate.
B6, or pyridoxine, is found in pork, poultry, fish, grains, eggs, soy beans, peanuts and vegetables so you likely get enough in your regular diet. Don't take more than 10mg daily unless instructed to do so by a doctor.
Zinc and Magnesium are two important minerals that affect testosterone. Both are commonly deficient in my patients. I usually check RBC levels of both, as well as serum levels. Zinc should be around 90-110 mcg/dL optimally and is found in meat, shellfish(oysters!crab!yum!), legumes (like chickpeas and lentils), nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs and whole grains.
Magnesium levels should be about 2 mg/dL You can get it by eating spinach, almonds, tofu, dark chocolate, bananas, avocados and quinoa. A deficiency in either of these important minerals may cause low testosterone. If you supplement with magnesium you should get either glycinate or citrate chelates for better absorption, Magnesium threonate crosses the blood brain barrier and can support brain health. Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) is nice for sore muscles, twitchy muscles and detox.
Carnitine is found in red meat, poultry and dairy. beans and avocado. It may prevent the loss of testosterone after strenuous activity and may increase dopamine levels which usually correlate with testosterone levels. If you are vegan you may need to supplement with acetyl-l-carnitine.
Last but not least, vitamin C may be protective of the prostate in the presence of testosterone related tumors. A good maintenance dose of vitamin C is 1000mg daily. I recommend 2000mg daily in flu season for the immune boosting benefits. Vitamin C is found in broccoli, cauliflower, kale, oranges, kiwi, strawberries, cantaloupe, papaya, red, green and yellow peppers, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
Lifestyle also matters - exercise, especially weight lifting, and eating a diet without sugar or alcohol and keeping blood sugar in the normal range helps to improve testosterone levels. If you or a loved one has noticed low energy, loss of sex drive, loss of muscle mass, 'man boobs', depression or moodiness, have your/his testosterone levels checked and help him get his mojo back with lifestyle and dietary modifications and supplement support.