Medically reviewed on February 17, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Testosterone is the primary androgen in the human body. While it’s considered a “male sex hormone,” every gender synthesizes and needs some amount of testosterone. The hormone plays an important role in physical development, repairing bone and tissue, and building muscle mass.
Testosterone naturally decreases as you age by an average of about 1 percent per year. Certain health issues, like diabetes or thyroid conditions, as well as side effects from some medications, may result in low testosterone levels. If you’ve experienced symptoms due to these health issues, talk with your healthcare provider and consider taking a testosterone level test.
While there are various natural ways to boost testosterone levels, natural interventions may not be enough if there are significant imbalances in the body. To support health and hormonal balance, some people may turn to supplements to increase testosterone levels. It’s important to consult your healthcare provider before you incorporate any new supplements into your diet or make any significant dietary changes. Learn more about some of the most popular supplements that may potentially increase your testosterone below.
Vitamin D is the only vitamin that the body can technically synthesize on its own when the skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Vitamin D is mostly known for helping with the metabolism and absorption of calcium and promoting healthy bone growth and development. It also plays a variety of other roles, like supporting the immune system and glucose metabolism.
Studies show that vitamin D supplementation may have a beneficial effect on testosterone levels . Daily supplementation of vitamin D was found to increase total, bioactive, and free levels of testosterone in subjects, while those who got a placebo had no change in testosterone levels.
Ashwagandha and testosterone seem to have a positive correlation. Ashwagandha is an herbal ingredient that has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine. The herb, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, has also been an increasingly popular supplement that may help with a wide range of issues, from general digestion to reducing stress.
Studies show that an Ashwagandha dietary supplement may be able to help establish a healthy testosterone level within the body. Ashwagandha has seen even more interest as a potential testosterone booster. It’s important to note that most existing research, even those that look promising, are limited. In one study, men who were given an ashwagandha extract for upwards of 16 weeks had testosterone levels that increased by about 15 percent on average. Studies in male rats have shown similar increases in testosterone .
The exact mechanisms aren’t well known, though ashwagandha has been studied for its adaptogenic effects. An adaptogen is simply a substance that reduces stress, and stress can decrease testosterone levels. Cortisol, the main stress hormone, can interfere with testosterone production.
Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for use, though you should talk with your healthcare provider before using it. It may interact with existing medication.
Native to western Asia, southern Europe, and the Mediterranean, fenugreek is a popular herb with a wide range of uses. Fenugreek extracts are commonly incorporated into soaps and cosmetic products, and its seeds are used in foods, beverages, and spice blends. In traditional medicine, fenugreek has been used as a treatment for diabetes and to help support milk production for breastfeeding mothers.
In terms of testosterone, fenugreek supplementation may help balance hormones. Clinical trials show that supplementing with fenugreek extract may significantly increase total testosterone levels and improve overall sexual function . The mechanisms here may involve furostanolic saponins, one of the main active components in fenugreek. This compound may actively increase natural testosterone levels.
Zinc is an essential mineral for the body that plays various roles, including boosting the immune system, supporting metabolism, and healing wounds. It is generally easy to get enough zinc from one’s diet, and it is commonly found in chicken and red meat, along with a variety of fortified foods.
Oysters and shellfish, in general, are some of the best sources of zinc. The high zinc content may have a beneficial effect on your natural testosterone levels. Studies show that zinc deficiency can have a dramatic effect on testosterone, causing serum testosterone levels to fall . Low zinc levels were also found to interfere with sperm production.
The exact mechanisms still require further study, though studies in rats suggest that zinc may inhibit aromatase . Aromatase is an enzyme that is responsible for converting some testosterone into estrogen. Problems can arise if you already have low testosterone levels, but by blocking that enzyme, you may be able to maintain higher levels of testosterone.
While zinc may help with testosterone, avoid overdoing it. Zinc is generally safe, but too much of it can cause some problems. In the short-term, too much zinc can result in indigestion, nausea, and/or vomiting. In the long-term, too much zinc can result in copper deficiencies. High zinc levels can also interfere with some common medications, including antibiotics and/or penicillamine. It’s best to speak with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your zinc intake.
Much like zinc, magnesium is an important mineral; it’s involved in more than 300 different enzymatic reactions within the human body. It supports immune function and muscle health, and it regulates blood pressure.
Magnesium may also support testosterone levels. Like zinc deficiencies, magnesium deficiency can also have a negative effect on testosterone levels. Maintaining optimal magnesium levels may help maintain optimal testosterone levels. Research suggests that magnesium has a positive effect on anabolic hormones in general, including testosterone .
Another common household spice and ingredient in many dishes, ginger offers a variety of potential health benefits, such as helping reduce inflammation. Several studies suggest ginger may be able to increase testosterone levels . The potential mechanisms are varied. Ginger is known as a powerful antioxidant, which can potentially prevent oxidative damage in the testes that could harm testosterone production. Ginger may also enhance production of luteinizing hormone, which is the hormone that stimulates production of testosterone within the testes.
However, keep in mind that the effect of ginger on testosterone in humans still requires further study and has yet to be confirmed.
Testosterone supplements and boosters can be hit-or-miss. If you do think a supplement might help testosterone levels, consult with your healthcare provider first and consider other lifestyle changes as well—like increasing strength training and reducing daily stress.
A good place to start is to use the Everlywell at-home Testosterone Test to measure your testosterone levels from the comfort of your own home. This can provide insight into your health and help you determine the next steps for optimizing your testosterone levels.
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