I am a Board-Certified Physical Therapist and National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist.
Testosterone Levels in Men
If you're a man who is 40 or older, I'm sure you remember the days when you were in your teens and you could run all day for hours on end. You could stay out partying and drinking all night and then wake up bright and early the next morning, feeling great and ready to do the same thing all over again. Those were the days, weren't they? That's when your hormones were at their highest level. Now we are getting older, and everything gets a little bit harder. If you've ever wondered why, this article answers all of your testosterone-related questions.
Questions This Article Answers
- Where should your testosterone levels be?
- What is testosterone?
- What are the effects of low levels?
- What is the synthetic effect?
- What foods increase testosterone naturally?
- Are there unhealthy levels?
1. Where Should Your Testosterone Levels Be?
Healthy testosterone levels are dependent on age. As we age, sometimes the energy needed throughout each day is hard to come by. Those intense workout sessions take more of a toll on you. Sore muscles and stiffness happen a little more frequently, and more time is required for the recovery process. Past the age of 30, our testosterone levels begin to drop naturally year to year, and we have to be prepared for that. By eating healthier and exercising regularly to keep our levels normal, our bodies stay healthy longer.
2. What Is Testosterone?
I'm pretty sure every man on the planet knows what testosterone is, but for the ladies/wives/girlfriends who might read this, I'll be thorough. Hormones (testosterone) are produced by both males and females; however, males produce approximately ten times more testosterone than females do (this is the reason why men naturally have more muscle mass than women). Testosterone is indispensable to the human body, and a healthy male typically has levels between about 350 to 850 (depending on the man). Of course, there are several other variable factors to consider, such as age, frequency of exercise, eating habits/diet, and how much you weigh, among other factors that can seriously affect whether your levels remain healthy or not.
Being that it's the primary male sex hormone (which is self-explanatory), it's imperative for men to keep their levels at a normal range. It is produced in the testes, and the receptors for the hormone are found in most body parts. A natural androgen with the chemical makeup of 17-beta-hydroxy-4-androstene-3-one is metabolized in your liver, testes, and prostate gland. It has a half-life (meaning how long it takes to metabolize/how long it stays in your body) of approximately two to four hours. The hormone is generally at its highest levels when a male is between the ages of 14 and 21 (again, depending on the male).
3. What Are the Effects of Low Levels?
Androgens are imperative to the male reproductive tissues and promote the development of male sex characteristics, such as hair growth (all over the body), muscle mass, bone density, sperm development, and increased sexual function. Depending on the levels of testosterone, it can also influence the male's behavior and aggression. Testosterone is absolutely necessary for the male's health and well-being. Without it, the male would lose his desire/need for sexual intercourse (which probably wouldn't sit well with his wife/girlfriend/significant other), lose muscle mass and strength, and suffer memory loss as well. The levels are always going to vary from person to person. A healthy level for males before the age of 40 is about 600. Past the age of 40, when most men start going into that midlife crisis, it starts to go downhill. The levels start to decline naturally, at the rate of approximately 1% a year, every year.
4. What Is the Synthetic Effect?
If your levels are on the lower side, then you're probably very aware of it (or the symptoms are actually already showing, and you're simply just not paying close attention to them). You may be tempted to go the synthetic route with the usage of PEDs (steroids/performance-enhancing drugs). You must understand that when you inject synthetic testosterone into your body, this will automatically shut down your body's own natural production of the hormone.
Once you cycle off of the synthetic drug, it may take your body a few days, a few weeks, a couple of months, or it may never start naturally reproducing testosterone again. It really depends on each individual person and many other variable factors. There are other natural ways of raising your testosterone levels without injecting/taking steroids. Eating more protein, exercising intensely on a regular basis, getting more Zinc in your diet (this prevents testosterone from being converted into estrogen), losing excess weight (if you are 25% above your ideal body mass, your levels are dropping), getting adequate rest and having more sexual activity, all are natural ways to help boost your levels.
5. What Foods Increase Testosterone Naturally?
Since you already know that past the age of 30 (depending on the man), it's all downhill, there are some eating habits that you can maintain in order to assist in augmenting your testosterone levels. Healthy fats are needed for testosterone production, improving your nervous system and circulation. Consuming omega-3 fatty acids in fish and olive oil will be extremely beneficial. Having high levels of estrogen (a hormone found more abundantly in females) in your body can throw your testosterone levels out of sync.
Some vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, contain indoles that prevent the testosterone from converting into estrogen. Foods that are high in zinc and potassium content (both needed for testosterone production), such as meat, cheese, milk, peanuts, bananas, whole grain cereals, pumpkin seeds, and beans, will all help in keeping your hormones at an acceptable level. Vitamin A, B, and E all help promote a healthy reproductive system. Therefore, apples, carrots, spinach, almonds, and sunflower seeds should all be on your weekly/monthly grocery list.
6. Are There Unhealthy Levels?
Unhealthy levels of the hormone can be high or low. Levels at 1000 or higher can enlarge the prostate and cause gynecomastia, the enlargement of the male breast tissue (man boobs), increased acne on different parts of the body (most notably the face, back, and shoulders), and cause a strong influence on your moods, making you more aggressive and easily irritable. Low levels below the 300 mark will cause excessive fatigue, loss of sex drive/interest in sex, inability to have or maintain an erection, loss of muscle mass, loss of hair, and even depression. As we get older, it's imperative to regulate our hormone levels. If you think you are suffering from one or more of any of these symptoms of high or low levels, you should definitely consult your healthcare professional and get yourself tested.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Indian Chef from New Delhi India on February 13, 2014:
Very interesting hub. Effect of higher levels i didn't know before. Voting it up and interesting.
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