If you have low testosterone or feel like you have it, it may be tempting to seek out a vitamin or other supplement that can help. A simple Internet search and you will find pages of results with suggestions.
The problem is that there isn’t a lot of high-quality scientific evidence that supports particular vitamins and minerals as an effective way to increase testosterone, says Dr. Desai.
Vitamin D is an important fat-soluble vitamin found in certain foods and dietary supplements. It is also produced in the body after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Some research shows a link between vitamin D deficiency and reduced testosterone. In a small study of overweight men following a weight reduction program, those who received 3,332 IU of vitamin D daily for one year saw a significant increase in testosterone levels compared to those who did not. did not take a vitamin D supplement.
Since the recommended daily dose of vitamin D for most adults is 600 IU, Dr. Desai warns that anyone hoping to boost their testosterone levels shouldn’t start on a 3,000 IU dose. “You need monitoring if you’re going to take such a high dose,” he says. “The problem is that the toxicity can build up and lead to side effects like bone pain, hypercalcemia and kidney stones.” But if your vitamin D level is low, taking a supplement may help, and experts note that the most effective form of supplementation is vitamin D3.
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Research has also found a link between levels of the essential mineral zinc and testosterone. A study in the Journal of Exercise Physiology found that when a small group of college football players took 30 milligrams of zinc daily (along with magnesium and vitamin B-6), they increased their testosterone levels. However, this is about three times the recommended daily allowance.
Note that this study was very small in size and on subjects who underwent intensive training – therefore experts point out that the main take-home message here may be to have your zinc levels checked if your testosterone level is low and, if this level is low, to work on increasing your zinc levels through supplements or diet.
“Zinc shows promise, but it can cause side effects and interact with medications you’re taking,” says Dr. Desai. Instead of supplementation, you can also get zinc from foods such as:
- Meats (beef, chicken, pork)
- Fortified cereals