If you want to know what are the best supplements to naturally boost testosterone, and which ones are a complete waste of money, then you want to read this article.
It’s no big secret, testosterone is the hormone that drives muscle growth. But it’s so much more than that.
With optimal levels of testosterone, you can:
Gain muscle and lose fat easier
Significantly boost energy and mood
Have greater confidence, strength, and assertiveness
Experience the greatest sex of your life
Unfortunately, a man’s natural testosterone levels peak around age 30 and then begin a slow, steady, and continuous decline, with most men experiencing a drop of 1-2% per year as they age.
Why is this a problem?
Low T levels are associated with low energy, reduced libido, poor concentration, and fatigue. They’re also linked to reduced muscle gain, increased muscle loss, and greater fat gain.
Basically everything you wouldn’t want to happen as you get old will happen when testosterone drops low enough.
To help stave off the inevitable decline, natural testosterone boosters have emerged as some of the most sought-after products on the market. But, not all natty test boosters are created equal. As a matter of fact, some are downright terrible.
In this article, we’ll cover the ingredients you should look for, and which ones you should avoid when purchasing your next testosterone support formula.
Let’s start by looking at three things in your daily habits that may be blunting your natural testosterone production.
Top 3 Things That Lower Testosterone Levels
“Sleep is for babies and old people.”
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
How many times have you heard quotes like this (or exactly this) by business execs and wantrepreneurs who believe that the only way to be successful in life is to work ‘round the clock and only get a miniscule amount (no more than 4 hours) of sleep.
While this hard-charging, go-getter attitude makes for great social media posts, it’s doing little for your stress levels, less for your productivity and efficiency, and even less for your testosterone levels.
Simply put, if you want to perform at your best mentally, physically, and sexually, you need sleep...and lots of it.
Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that after only one week of reduced sleep (5 hours per night) young men’s testosterone levels dropped as much as 15%. Additionally, testosterone levels were at their lowest between the hours of 2 and 10 p.m. on sleep-restricted days.
As if low testosterone wasn’t bad enough, the sleep deprived men also reported a decreased sense of wellbeing.
Another long-term study noted that men who slept only four hours per night were borderline deficient in testosterone.
On the flip side, other research indicates that for every additional hour of sleep a man gets, his testosterone levels are 15% higher, on average.[3,4]
Now, you might say that you “feel fine” when only getting 5-6 hours of sleep, and that may be true to a certain degree, as the amount of sleep a person needs depends on a wide variety of factors. But, most adults generally need 7-9 hours of sleep per night in order to function well and not experience adverse alterations in their hormone levels.
Is watching that extra hour of NetFlix really worth jeopardizing your precious testosterone levels?
We didn’t think so...
Stress is a part of life, there’s no two ways about it. But, not all stresses are created equal.
Acute stressors can motivate you to beat a deadline or set a new PR in the gym. Your muscles also need to be stressed in order to go. In these scenarios, stress can be a good thing, but, as you probably already know, chronic stress (the kind that keeps you up at night) takes a severe toll on your body (mentally and physically) as well as your overall health.
But, what you may not realize is that in addition to the physical and psychological toll stress induces, it also has a fairly serious negative impact on your testosterone levels.
You see, when you are chronically stressed, levels of cortisol (the body’s main stress hormone) increase and remain elevated for prolonged periods of time.[5,6] With this comes a serious drop in testosterone levels.
In other words, testosterone and cortisol have a “seesaw”-like relationship -- when one goes up, the other must come down, and vice versa. Therefore, if you’re stressed all the time, testosterone production is suppressed, and with it comes reduced recovery, energy, and muscle growth along with increased muscle breakdown, cellular aging, and fat storage.
The effects can be further exacerbated if you’re not sleeping properly and following a rather aggressive training program as both sleep deprivation and intense physical activity increase cortisol levels.
In other words, if you’re not sleeping, constantly worrying, and still trying tokill it in the gym, you’ve created the ultimate maelstrom to demolish your natural testosterone production.
On top of torpedoing testosterone levels, stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase appetite and promote storage of fat in your abdomen and around your internal organs, both of which can negatively impact T-levels.[9,10]
For both optimal health and hormone levels, it’s imperative that you take steps to improve the way you deal with stress. You may not be able to remove all stress from your life, but you sure can adopt various measures to enhance the way you respond to it. Things such as sleep, laughter, fish oil, deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can all help reduce stress and subsequently boost testosterone levels.[11,12,13]
Dietary fat (especially saturated fat) has been rather unfairly demonized ever since Ancel Keys published the now infamous Seven Countries Study. As a result, men and women alike adopted low-fat diets for fear that consuming even a moderate amount of naturally occurring fats would lead right to a heart attack.
Unfortunately this fat phobia resulted in a number of unintended consequences, not the least of which is declining testosterone levels among adult men.
You see, dietary fats play a critical role in the body because they are required for a wide array of physiological processes including:
When dietary fat intake is too low, for instance during the low-fat fad of the 80s and 90s, these functions are severely compromised. In fact, multiple studies have shown that when men follow a low-fat diet, there is a significant drop in testosterone and serum androgens.[14,15,16]
Obviously if you’re looking to optimize natural testosterone production, you do not want to follow a low-fat diet, but, on the flip side, you don’t need to go full keto and jack up your fat intake to 75% of your daily calorie intake while simultaneously abolishing carbohydrates from your diet.
It’s true that you need to consume an adequate amount of dietary fat, but not as much as you might think. The Institute of Medicine (IoM) recommends that adults consume 20 to 35% of their daily calories from dietary fat.
As a minimum, you should consume roughly 0.3 grams of dietary fat per pound of fat-free mass. For a 180 pound male, this works out to roughly 54 grams of fat as a minimum.
Now, carbohydrates also play an important role in testosterone production as well. As we noted above, cortisol and testosterone have an inverse relationship, when cortisol is high, testosterone is low, and vice versa.
Well, following a higher carb diet leads to higher levels of insulin than low-carb diets do. This is important because insulin helps lower cortisol levels.
Therefore, consuming carbohydrates can help support healthy testosterone levels due to the cortisol-lowering properties of insulin.
Now, beyond diet, sleep, and stress management, what else can you do to naturally boost testosterone production?
Let’s find out by first discussing which ingredients DO NOT increase testosterone levels.
3 Overrated Natural Testosterone Boosters
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a weed native across the globe, including Europe, Asia, northern Africa and the Americas. Its name is due to the fact that the plant has little spikes on its leaves that “sting” the person trying to uproot it.
It’s often included in supplements claiming to boost testosterone levels, but the simple truth is that stinging nettle does zilch for enhancing T-levels in humans.
One double blind study that included 257 men receiving 120mg of stinging nettle, twice daily for 48 weeks had NO effect on testosterone levels.
Another study, this time involving over 550 men, noted that testosterone levels were completely unchanged when supplementing with the prickly plant.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why stinging nettle is frequently included in natty test boosters when the human studies show it has no effect on testosterone levels.
Well, for a few reasons.
First, the human studies using stinging nettle noticed it did lead to slight improvements in symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). Second, animal studies (i.e. rat research) noted that stinging nettle could “possibly” boost testosterone.
However, the rat study is confounded by the fact that the rats receiving stinging nettle also received injections of testosterone. So, there’s really no way to know with certainty that stinging nettle was actually responsible for the increases in testosterone.
Third, other animal studies and cell cultures note that stinging nettle may reduce sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and inhibit 5-alpha-reductase.[23,24]
In case you weren’t aware, 5-alpha-reductase converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). So, the theory behind inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase is that it could lead to higher free testosterone levels.
However, this theory falls apart, as human studies demonstrate no increase in free testosterone levels. Furthermore, DHT is an extremely potent androgen in its own right as well as a powerful estrogen blocker, so limiting it may not be in your best interest.
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a small palm found in the Southeastern United States. It’s frequently included in OTC men’s health formulas for its purported benefits regarding testosterone and prostate health.
In regards to prostate health, saw palmetto is believed to suppress prostate growth and improve abnormal urine flow resulting from an enlarged prostate. This idea stems from some research suggesting that saw palmetto may block the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which as we just mentioned above converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
However, most well-designed studies in humans document that saw palmetto supplementation results in no significant improvements in either urine flow or prostate size.[27,28]
Regarding the claims that saw palmetto boosts testosterone levels, those studies documenting an increase in testosterone due to supplementation with saw palmetto are confounded by other ingredients being supplemented alongside saw palmetto.
And, the single study that did use saw palmetto in isolation found that it had no significant impact on testosterone levels.[29,30]
ZMA is a special combination of zinc, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6. It’s been heralded as one of the best natural testosterone boosters and sleep aids for well over a decade.
However, unless you are deficient in zinc, ZMA will not increase testosterone levels.[31,32]
That being said, many athletes choose to supplement with both magnesium and zinc due to address any shortfalls in their diet.
Now, let’s get to 3 of the very best supplements proven to boost testosterone levels in humans!
Top 3 Best Supplements to Boost Testosterone
Remember from above when we discussed that chronically elevated levels of cortisol can blunt testosterone production?
That’s where ashwagandha comes in.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a staple herb used in Ayurveda traditionally used to increase virility, strength, and stamina. The name “ashwagandha” is translated as “smell of horse” and it refers to the herb’s distinct smell as well as the belief that ingesting the herb gives you the strength and stamina of a stallion.of a horse.
Interestingly enough, the botanical name “Withania somnifera” actually means “sleep-inducing” in Latin. (You’ll understand why in a moment.)
Ashwagandha is a member of a class of plants known as adaptogens.
Adaptogens are compounds that improve the body’s ability to interact, respond, and recover from all manner of emotional, psychological, and physical stress.
Most ashwagandha extracts are standardized to 2.5% withanolides, which means that 2.5% of the extract by weight is withanolides.
Withanolides are a group of compounds in ashwagandha responsible for the plant’s stress-alleviating properties.
However, a more potent form of ashwagandha has been developed by Natreon called Sensoril, which is standardized to 10% withanolides.
When developing Sensoril, Natreon had the goal of creating the strongest ashwagandha extract possible, containing the highest levels of withanolides on the market.
Numerous studies have found that Sensoril significantly improves individuals’ stress response[33,34], which leads to reductions in cortisol and subsequently increases in testosterone.
Additional studies also note that supplementation with Sensoril can reduce oxidative stress and improve endothelial function. This indicates that the standardized ashwagandha extra may support cardiovascular health and help fight chronic diseases attributed to stress and inflammation.
And to top it off, Sensoril may improve cognitive and psychomotor performance, which has led researchers to consider it as an adjunct treatment of diseases associated with cognitive impairment.
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin serving a critical role as a precursor to several steroid hormones, including testosterone. Your body naturally synthesizes vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight, which is why it is commonly referred to the “sunshine” vitamin.
However, due to longer commutes and workdays as well as people generally spending most of their time indoors, the population is facing a massive deficiency in Vitamin D.
As a result of the deficiency, men are facing declines in testosterone levels and, even worse, several studies have found a pretty strong association between low levels of Vitamin D and greater risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The good news, is that supplementation with Vitamin D3 has been found to correct these vitamin deficiencies, and with it a fairly significant boost to testosterone levels -- as much as a 20% increase![37,38]
The manner in which vitamin D supplementation boosts testosterone is via reduction of sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and aromatase expression. Specifically, inhibiting aromatase activity reduces the breakdown and conversion of testosterone into estrogen.
We should also point out that Vitamin D3 has been noted to increase levels of the anabolic hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1).[39,40]
There’s more though.
Additional research indicates that vitamin D supplementation can decrease body fat while increasing power output. A study from Purdue University noted that when individuals consumed 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day they enhanced peak power output and improved their waist-to-hip ratio.[39,40]
Boron is one of the oldest natural testosterone boosters around, first appearing in supplements in the 1980s.
Boron is an essential micronutrient that serves a rather diverse and critically important role in human metabolism. To name just a few of the functions in which boron plays a role include::
Utilization of vitamin D, testosterone, and estrogen
Absorption of magnesium
Decreasing levels of inflammatory biomarkers, such as tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and C-reactive protein (CRP)
More importantly, boron supplementation also helps boost testosterone -- in humans.
Research notes that daily supplementation with 10 mg of boron (the exact amount in Neanderthal) for 7 days increased free testosterone by 28% and decreased estrogen levels by 39%!
Studies also indicate that boron may decrease levels of sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG), thereby making testosterone more biologically active.
Additional benefits derived from boron supplementation include heightened cognitive function and decreased reduced levels of inflammatory biomarkers.[42,43]
How to Naturally Boost Testosterone
Avoiding low-fat or low-carb fad diets, lifting heavy weights, getting adequate sleep (7-9 hours), and reducing stress are the pillars of maximizing natural testosterone production.
Without these four things, your chances of having even normal testosterone levels is slim to none. But, if you do have these things taken care of, and looking to further enhance your natural testosterone production, Primeval Labs has created one of the best all-natural testosterone boosters on the market in Neanderthal.
Neanderthal contains a synergistic mix of research-backed, all-natural ingredients that help boost libido, sexual desire, and testosterone while limiting stress and cortisol.
Click here to learn more about Neanderthal and how you can start taking your manhood back!
R. Leproult, E. Van Cauter. Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011; 305 (21): 2173 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2011.710
PD, Penev. "Association Between Sleep and Morning Testosterone Levels in Older Men. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17520786.
Granata AR , et al. "Relationship Between Sleep-related Erections and Testosterone Levels in Men. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9349750.
Goh VH and Tong TY. "Sleep, Sex Steroid Hormones, Sexual Activities, and Aging in Asian Men. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19684340.
Epel ES , et al. "Cell Aging in Relation to Stress Arousal and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16298085.
BS, McEwen. "Stress, Adaptation, and Disease. Allostasis and Allostatic Load. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9629234.
Hoogeveen, A.R. and M.L. Zonderland, Relationships between testosterone, cortisol and performance in professional cyclists. Int J Sports Med, 1996. 17(6): p. 423-8.
Cumming DC , et al. "Acute Suppression of Circulating Testosterone Levels by Cortisol in Men. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6348068.
Epel EE , et al. "Stress-induced Cortisol, Mood, and Fat Distribution in Men. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10023725.
Torres SJ and Nowson CA. "Relationship Between Stress, Eating Behavior, and Obesity. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17869482.
Delarue J , et al. "Fish Oil Prevents the Adrenal Activation Elicited by Mental Stress in Healthy Men. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12909818.
Berk LS , et al. "Neuroendocrine and Stress Hormone Changes During Mirthful Laughter. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2556917.
Katuri KK, Dasari AB, Kurapati S, Vinnakota NR, Bollepalli AC, Dhulipalla R. Association of yoga practice and serum cortisol levels in chronic periodontitis patients with stress-related anxiety and depression. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. 2016;6(1):7-14.
Hämäläinen E , et al. "Diet and Serum Sex Hormones in Healthy Men. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6538617.
"Low-Fat High-Fiber Diet Decreased Serum and Urine Androgens in Men." OUP Academic, 1 June 2005, academic.oup.com/jcem/article/90/6/3550/2870596.
Hämäläinen EK , et al. "Decrease of Serum Total and Free Testosterone During a Low-fat High-fibre Diet. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6298507.
Health and Medicine : Health and Medicine Division, iom.nationalacademies.org/%7E/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/DRI_Macronutrients.pdf.
Boden G , et al. "Effect of a Low-carbohydrate Diet on Appetite, Blood Glucose Levels, and Insulin Resistance in Obese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15767618.
Fernández-Real JM , et al. "Lower Cortisol Levels After Oral Glucose in Subjects with Insulin Resistance and Abdominal Obesity. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9425398.
Lopatkin, N., Sivkov, A., Walther, C., Schläfke, S., Medvedev, A., Avdeichuk, J., . . . Engelmann, U. (2005). Long-term efficacy and safety of a combination of sabal and urtica extract for lower urinary tract symptoms—a placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter trial. World Journal of Urology, 23(2), 139-146.
Safarinejad, M.R., Urtica dioica for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. J Herb Pharmacother, 2005. 5(4): p. 1-11.
Moradi HR, Erfani Majd N, Esmaeilzadeh S, Fatemi Tabatabaei SR. The histological and histometrical effects of Urtica dioica extract on rat’s prostate hyperplasia. Veterinary Research Forum. 2015;6(1):23-29.
Gansser, D., & Spiteller, G. Aromatase inhibitors from Urtica dioica roots. Planta Med. 1995 Apr;61(2):138-40.
Chrubasik, J. E., Roufogalis, B. D., Wagner, H., & Chrubasik, S. (2007). A comprehensive review on the stinging nettle effect and efficacy profiles. Part II: Urticae radix. Phytomedicine, 14(7-8), 568-579.
Casey, R. W., & Wilson, J. D. (1984). Antiestrogenic action of dihydrotestosterone in mouse breast. Competition with estradiol for binding to the estrogen receptor. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 74(6), 2272-2278.
Pais P, Villar A, Rull S. Determination of the potency of a novel saw palmetto supercritical CO2 extract (SPSE) for 5α-reductase isoform II inhibition using a cell-free in vitro test system. Res Rep Urol. 2016;8:41-9. Published 2016 Apr 21. doi:10.2147/RRU.S96576
Tacklind J , et al. "Serenoa Repens for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Barry MJ, Meleth S, Lee JY, et al. Effect of increasing doses of saw palmetto extract on lower urinary tract symptoms: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2011;306(12):1344-51.
Brown GA, et al. Endocrine and lipid responses to chronic androstenediol-herbal supplementation in 30 to 58 year old men. J Am Coll Nutr. (2001)
Strauch G, et al. Comparison of finasteride (Proscar) and Serenoa repens (Permixon) in the inhibition of 5-alpha reductase in healthy male volunteers. Eur Urol. (1994)
Prasad AS , et al. "Zinc Status and Serum Testosterone Levels of Healthy Adults. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8875519.
Koehler K , et al. "Serum Testosterone and Urinary Excretion of Steroid Hormone Metabolites After Administration of a High-dose Zinc Supplement. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17882141.
Effect of Withania somnifera extract on mental stress induced changes in hemodynamic properties and arterial wave reflections in healthy subjects. Usharani Pingali, Raveendranath Pilli, Nishat Fatima. Current Topics in Nutraceutical research, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 151‐158, 2013
A standardized Withania somnifera extract reduces stress related parameters in chronically stressed humans – a double‐blind,randomized, placebo‐controlled study. Biswajit Auddy, Jayaram Hazara, Achintya Mitra, Bruce Abedon, Shibnath Ghosal. JANA, Vol. II, No. I, 2008, pp. 50‐56.
Evaluation of a highly standardized Withania somnifera extract on endothelial function and biomarkers of oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled study. Pingali Usharani, Nishat Fatima, Chiranjeevi Uday Kumar, Int. J.Ayur. Pharma Research, 2014; 2(3): 22‐32
Pingali U, Pilli R, Fatima N. Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera on tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance in healthy human participants. Pharmacognosy Res. 2014;6(1):12-8.
Pilz, S.; Frisch, S.; Koertke, H.; Kuhn, J.; Dreier, J.; Obermayer-Pietsch, B.; Wehr, E.; Zittermann, A. Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Testosterone Levels in Men. Hormone and Metabolic Research 2011; 43(03): 223 – 225 DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1269854
Effects of vitamin D supplementation on upper and lower body muscle strength levels in healthy individuals. A systematic review with meta-analysis Tomlinson, Peter B. et al. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 18 , Issue 5 , 575-580
Salehpour A, Hosseinpanah F, et al. A 12-week double-blind randomized clinical trial of vitamin D3 supplementation on body fat mass in healthy overweight and obese women. Nutr. J 2014; 11, 78
Carrillo AE, Flynn MG, Pinkston C, et al. Impact of vitamin D supplementation during a resistance training intervention on body composition, muscle function, and glucose tolerance in overweight and obese adults. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland). 2013;32(3):375-381. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2012.08.014.
Pizzorno L. Nothing Boring About Boron. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015;14(4):35-48.
Naghii M R, Mofid M, Asgari A R, Hedayati M, Daneshpour M S. Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines. Physiol Pharmacol. 2011; 15 (3) :403-414
Naghii MR1, Samman S. The effect of boron supplementation on its urinary excretion and selected cardiovascular risk factors in healthy male subjects. Biol Trace Elem Res. (1997)