At a glance
Testosterone & Our Age: What happens to our T-Levels after 30?
Let’s stick to the basics: though testosterone is present in both men and women, it is mostly thought of as the hormone that “makes a man a man” — and is most often associated with male sexual performance, big muscles, and physical strength. But did you know that testosterone also affects our heart, bone density, and mood?
And what happens when our T-levels become too high or too low?
Our testosterone levels have a direct impact on our health, especially as we age. The role it has in key functions throughout the body is far too important to ignore. Here are the facts you need to know about testosterone!
1. T-Levels Drop As We Age
The hard truth is that testosterone levels drop as we get older. According to Healthline, testosterone levels may decline about 1 percent per year after turning 30. Clinical evidence doubled down on this, citing that age-related decline in testosterone levels is due to diminishing functionality of both testicular and hypothalamic-pituitary function. And the natural drop-off in T-Levels can impact a variety of important functions such as sex drive, body fat content, muscle mass, bone strength, mood, and more.
Multiple metrics are taken into account when measuring testosterone levels. Three common metrics are Free Testosterone, Bioavailable Testosterone, and Total Testosterone. The Medical Center at the University of Rochester recognized the significance of these levels and dissected the connection between testosterone and aging. This overview on testosterone levels acknowledged that, when necessary, all 3 types of testosterone should be checked by your healthcare provider. The reason for this is while one man’s test results could show healthy levels of Free Testosterone, this doesn’t necessarily paint the full picture, especially as he gets older. Therefore, you may want to familiarize yourself with each type.
2. Healthy Testosterone Levels Promote Muscle Size And Strength
There’s a good reason why Testosterone is most closely associated with muscle size and strength. A quick Internet search for “testosterone supplements” will lead you to seemingly endless number of products that portray images of bodybuilders on the label. This is a clear indication that society closely links testosterone with muscle size and strength. These close associations are backed by clinical evidence confirming testosterone does increase muscle size and strength.
For example, The New England Journal of Medicine administered a study that injected 43 healthy men with 600 mg of testosterone enanthate or placebo weekly for 10 weeks. The subjects were placed in one of the following groups: placebo with no exercise, testosterone with no exercise, placebo plus exercise, and testosterone plus exercise.
The results indicated that those given testosterone with no exercise had greater increases in muscle size in their arms and legs than those given the placebo, and they experienced greater strength in the bench-press and squat exercises. Furthermore, the men assigned to the testosterone plus exercise group had greater increases in muscle size and fat-free mass than those who got testosterone but did not exercise.
These findings revealed that “supraphysiologic doses of testosterone, especially when combined with strength training, increase fat-free mass and muscle size and strength in normal men.”
In a separate body of work, The School of Public Health at Harvard University confirmed that men with originally normal testosterone levels saw an increase in muscle mass when receiving testosterone therapy.
3. Testosterone Powers Key Biological Functions
Aside from its close association with muscle size and strength, testosterone is clinically studied to support key areas that affect everyday health:
Healthline notes that testosterone plays a huge role in bone mineral density. And since testosterone levels drop as we age, this means that bone density decreases as well. This increases the risk of health issues including weak bones and osteoporosis.
However, research shows that bone density increases with a high enough dose of testosterone replacement therapy. This clinical review highlighted the benefits and risks of testosterone replacement therapy in relation to bone mineral density. According to the research, “the prevalence of osteoporosis in testosterone deficient males is double that of those with normal testosterone levels.” Simply put, testosterone affects spinal and hip bone density.
As previously stated, testosterone levels drop in men beginning in the third decade of life. By age 70, 30% of men suffer from low testosterone levels. This is certainly a cause for concern and frustration, but there are clinically studied ways to increase low T.
Although testosterone replacement therapy won’t turn back time, it can improve sexual desire and activity in older men with low libido and low T levels, according to this publication from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a 2018 review titled “Testosterone Therapy Improves Erectile Function and Libido in Hypogonadal Men.” The purpose of this study was to examine the effect testosterone therapy has on men who carry symptoms of low testosterone: decreased libido, Erectile Dysfunction (ED), low energy, and general fatigue.
A key point of this review is that testosterone replacement therapy has multiple benefits when it comes to men’s health. An increase in libido, improvement in erection quality (when used as monotherapy in men with mild ED), and, of course, healthy levels of testosterone are all promising results of testosterone therapy, according to the clinical review.
Take this last one with a grain of salt. Current thinking is that lower testosterone levels are associated with a downturn in mood, but the evidence behind this is limited. This claim is based on the idea that depression, fatigue, and irritability are symptoms of low testosterone. However, limited research shows that this only applies to men with hypogonadism. Still, this is something worth considering. If your mood has taken a dark turn, seeing your doctor for blood tests to determine your testosterone levels may give you a starting point for turning things around.
4. It is Linked To Heart Health
A 2019 clinical study set out to determine the relationship between low testosterone and hypertension, a leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Multiple test metrics were utilized to determine the inverse relationship between testosterone and hypertension in 253 male subjects between the ages of 40 and 79 years. Among these metrics were Free Testosterone (FT), Bioavailable Testosterone (BioT), and Total Testosterone (TT). All three metrics were utilized throughout the study, with an emphasis on Free Testosterone and Bioavailable Testosterone.
The 2019 study accounted for several key factors including age, smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical activity in some tests, but ignored those considerations in other instances. The results indicated that both FT and BioT were inversely associated with systolic blood pressure (SBP). BioT was associated with diastolic blood pressure (DBP) in both instances as well. In other words, both Free Testosterone and Bioavailable Testosterone were associated with how much pressure the blood was exerting against artery walls after each heartbeat.
An important sidenote here is that an estimated 85.6 million American Adults have one or more types of cardiovascular disease — with more than half of them being age 60 or older, according to the American Heart Association.
5. Testosterone-Boosting Foods, Nutrients & Botanicals
As previously stated, undergoing testosterone placement therapy is a clinically studied way to boost your T-levels. However, there are multiple ways to raise your testosterone levels using food and dietary supplements as well.
Here is a list of 8 of testosterone-boosting foods:
- Low-fat milk with Vitamin D
- Egg yolk
- Fortified Cereal with Vitamin D
Another source of food to consider is honey. That’s right — oral administration of this sweet, golden goo enhances serum testosterone levels in men, according to a 2019 study.
There are also several vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements worth considering when looking to support healthy testosterone levels.
Studies indicate that Vitamin D may boost testosterone levels and even improve related measures such as sperm quality.
One study uncovered a link between Vitamin D deficiency and low testosterone and found “androgen levels and 25 (OH) D levels are associated in men and reveal a concordant seasonal variation.” In other words, when subjects spent more time under the sun during summer, they experienced an increase in both Vitamin D and testosterone levels.
Zinc in involved in over 100 chemical processes within the body, including the sexual health of men. The 2018 review, “Zinc is an Essential Element for Male Fertility: A Review of Zn Roles in Men’s Health, Germination, Sperm Quality, and Fertilization,” found links between zinc and testosterone levels. The authors of the review concluded that low levels of this essential mineral can impact men’s sexual health, including fertility and sperm quality.
Although Ashwagandha is primarily used as an adaptogen to manage stress, it is linked to male fertility as well. One study found that Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) improves semen quality in stress-related male fertility. The study involved the supplementation of 5 grams of Ashwagandha root powder to 60 men for 3 months. The results found a decrease in stress, improved levels of antioxidants, improved overall semen quality, and a lift in testosterone levels in a significant number of participants.
Also known as “Malaysian Ginseng,” Tongkat Ali boasts some impressive effects on virility, energy, endurance, and testosterone.
This particular botanical has been involved in traditional Southeast Asian medicine for centuries. Today, Tongkat Ali is the focal point of various studies that suggest it plays a strong role in boosting male virility, including this 2010 publication from Asian Journal of Andrology.
350 male patients were given 200 mg of Tongkat Ali daily, with subsequent semen analyses performed every 3 months over a 9-month duration. The results suggest that treatment with Tongkat Ali “significantly improves semen volume, sperm motility, and the percentage of morphologically normal sperm in men with idiopathic infertility.”
More recent studies have revealed the direct dramatic effect Tongkat Ali has on testosterone levels in men. A 2012 study showed that taking 200 mg of Tongkat Ali for a month increased study participants’ testosterone levels by an average of 46.8%.
Put Your Testosterone To The Test
It is vitally important that men keep an eye on their testosterone levels. As we have seen, low levels can lead to potential heart issues, along with the obvious libido concerns. And while testosterone therapy may be the approach decided upon by you and your doctor should levels be too low, there are also great natural sources to help you keep your T where you want it to be!