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Testosterone is an important hormone for everyone. Even though it’s often associated with the libido of those assigned male at birth, testosterone occurs in all sexes from birth.

In those assigned female at birth, it plays a part in sexual drive, energy, and physical strength. In those assigned male at birth, it stimulates the beginning of sexual development and helps maintain their health throughout life.

The testosterone levels of those assigned male at birth peak in early adulthood. But the hormone continues to play an important role in:

  • bone and muscle mass
  • fat storage
  • production of red blood cells
  • sexual and physical health

Your testosterone levels will begin to naturally fall as you get older. Drastic drops or a stop in production can lead to symptoms of low testosterone (low T).

According to the American Urological Association, the overall prevalence of low T is about 2.1 percent. However, this increases with age, with low T impacting an estimated 50 percent of men ages 80 years and over.

Drastically decreasing testosterone levels can lead to:

A variety of factors can cause these unexpected changes, though. They can include:

  • health conditions
  • medication side effects
  • excessive alcohol or drug use

Treating the underlying cause may also help to manage your symptoms.

Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about low T. Read on to see which vitamins, herbs, and supplements may benefit testosterone production.

Traditional testosterone replacement therapies, such as injections, implants, and gels, work to add testosterone into your body. Herbs and supplements, on the other hand, may help your body make testosterone. Some herbs and supplements simply aim to ease your symptoms of low T.

While some alternative treatments are safe for people with low T, many of them haven’t been through rigorous testing in humans. Talk with your doctor before trying any herb or supplement. They’ll be able to let you know if they’re right for you, and if so, recommend the best dosage.

Traditional Indian medicine uses ashwagandha for many things, including sexual dysfunction and infertility. The plant’s roots and berries are used to make teas, extracts, and capsules.

One 2010 study assessed ashwagandha supplementation in 75 men experiencing infertility. It was found that ashwagandha helped improve:

A 2019 study looked at 43 men with overweight taking either a placebo or ashwagandha extract. It found that ashwagandha was associated with significant increases in DHEA and testosterone. However, there was no difference with placebo for symptoms like fatigue or sexual dysfunction.

Another 2019 study evaluated ashwagandha in 60 adults. A significant increase in testosterone compared to baseline was seen in men receiving ashwagandha. However, this increase wasn’t statistically significant from those receiving a placebo.

Vitamin D, also called cholecalciferol, helps your body:

  • fight off bacteria and viruses
  • protect bones against osteoporosis
  • absorb calcium into your bones

It’s possible that vitamin D can also help increase testosterone levels. One 2011 study found that men with vitamin D deficiency who took 3,332 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily for 1 year saw their testosterone levels significantly increase.

However, vitamin D supplements may only work for men who are severely deficient in this specific vitamin. In fact, a 2013 study found that men without a vitamin D deficiency had no increase in testosterone levels after taking vitamin D.

A more recent study from 2017 also supported this finding. In the study, 98 healthy men without vitamin D deficiency received either a placebo or vitamin D supplement for 12 weeks. Compared to the placebo group, no significant increase in total testosterone was seen in the men receiving the vitamin D supplements.

The maximum daily allowance for vitamin D for most people is 4,000 IU per day. Exposure to sunshine can help your body produce the vitamin D you need. While wearing sunscreen can decrease absorption of vitamin D, it’s recommended to protect you from skin cancer.

Zinc is an essential micronutrient. It helps your body:

  • fight off invading bacteria and viruses
  • produce DNA and genetic material
  • repair wounds

A zinc deficiency may be associated with low T. This is because zinc is involved in the production of testosterone. Additionally, zinc is important for maintaining sperm quality as well.

Older research found that zinc supplements helped boost testosterone levels for men with zinc deficiencies. However, more recent research is limited.

You can consume zinc, which is necessary to maintain healthy levels of this important micronutrient in your body, by eating:

  • red meat
  • poultry
  • seafood
  • beans
  • nuts
  • dairy products
  • fortified breakfast cereals

The recommended daily zinc dosage is 11 mg for adult men. Many daily vitamins and supplements contain more than the daily value of zinc.

Too much zinc can lead to both short- and long-term side effects. Short-term effects include nausea, cramps, and headaches. Long-term effects include reduced immune function, copper deficiency, and more. Talk with a doctor about dosage amounts before taking zinc supplements.

Garlic may be used as a natural therapy for:

  • hardened arteries, or atherosclerosis
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • cancer prevention
  • a weak immune system

Older research from 2001 saw increased testosterone levels in the testes of rats after they ate food supplemented with garlic powder. More recent research from 2015 found that rats that were fed garlic cloves had increased levels of testosterone in their blood.

However, it’s important to point out that no human trials currently exist on garlic and testosterone levels.

Most garlic supplements are made from fresh, dried, or freeze-dried garlic. Some use garlic oil and aged garlic extracts. The dosage depends on the form of the garlic you’re using.

In some cases of low T, your body can’t make enough dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). This is a hormone that gets converted into estrogen and testosterone.

But the reviews on DHEA supplementation and testosterone are mixed. Most studies report insignificant changes or results that can’t be duplicated.

A 2020 review summarized the findings of various studies on DHEA supplementation. While it notes that some research has found that DHEA may potentially improve low T symptoms like mood changes, increases in fat, or low sexual functioning, much of the evidence was inconsistent or insufficient.

Overall, there isn’t enough proof about the safety or effectiveness of DHEA. The hormone may reduce HDL levels, or “good” cholesterol, and cause other hormone-related conditions to worsen. Make sure to check with your doctor before taking DHEA supplements.

Pine bark extract contains natural compounds called proanthocyanidins. The extract made from these compounds is commonly sold under the brand name Pycnogenol. Bark extract from P. pinaster may help to:

  • lower cholesterol
  • enhance cardiovascular health
  • improve blood flow
  • possibly reduce symptoms of ED

In some medical studies, pine bark extract is paired with a compound called L-arginine aspartate. These compounds together may have some effect on testosterone and ED. Overall, more studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of pine bark extract for ED or raising testosterone levels.

A 2010 study assessed men who took a combination of pine bark extract and L-arginine aspartate for 6 months. It found that men taking the supplement had improved ED symptoms and higher total plasma testosterone levels than those receiving a placebo.

A 2012 study looked at men with ED who took Pycnogenol and L-arginine aspartate for 8 weeks. Compared to placebo, men taking the supplement had improvements in their ED symptoms and slightly higher levels of testosterone measured in their saliva.

Avoid this supplement if you are taking:

Your dosage will depend on your health history, so talk with your doctor before using pine bark extract.

The human body produces the amino acid L-arginine naturally. Your body uses L-arginine to help increase blood flow, which may also help ED. L-arginine is also found in many foods, including:

  • red meat
  • dairy
  • poultry
  • fish

Some research shows that L-arginine may help to raise testosterone levels in some animal models.

However, in humans L-arginine doesn’t seem to boost a person’s level of testosterone directly. Instead, it may help treat symptoms of low T, such as ED.

The dosage limit for L-arginine has not been established. If you’re interested in trying out L-arginine for low T symptoms like ED, talk with your doctor about the recommended dosage.

Chrysin is a flavonoid extract found in honey and in Passiflora incarnate, or blue passionflowers. You can take chrysin in the form of tea or supplements. A 2012 study in rats showed that chrysin can increase sperm motility, sperm concentration, and testosterone levels.

However, an older 2003 study in humans found that 21 days of daily chrysin supplementation didn’t increase urine testosterone levels. It’s possible that the human body may not absorb chrysin very well, which could reduce this extract’s benefit. More research is needed.

Results are mixed regarding saw palmetto’s effects on testosterone. It may help boost libido, increase sperm production, and improve symptoms of low T.

A 2020 study involving men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate, looked at the effects of saw palmetto oil enriched with beta-sitosterol. After 12 weeks, men who received the supplement had improved prostate symptoms and increased levels of serum free testosterone.

The definitive cause for BPH is unknown, though testosterone may play a role in causing the prostate to grow.

Malaysian ginseng is also known as Tongkat ali or E. longifolia. It’s a native Southeast Asian plant with properties that are:

  • antimalarial
  • antidiabetic
  • antimicrobial
  • fever-reducing
  • aphrodisiac

A 2014 study found that Malaysian ginseng increased testosterone levels and improved sperm health in rats.

Additionally, a 2013 study found that supplementation with Malaysian ginseng improved serum testosterone levels in men with hypogonadism. A 2014 study notes that Malaysian ginseng led to increases in total and free testosterone as well as improved muscle strength in both men and women.

A 2013 study looked at the effects of Malaysian ginseng on mood in men and women. It found that supplementation with Malaysian ginseng for 4 weeks improved scores for feelings of anger, tension, and confusion. It also boosted testosterone levels in the saliva.

One 2012 review suggested this herb may help the body overcome other testosterone-related problems, including osteoporosis.

There’s no standard for the exact dosage that a person should take. Speak with your doctor for guidance before using Malaysian ginseng supplements.

Indian spinach may be used in traditional medicine used for fertility purposes. Alcohol extracts of this herb provide the most benefits.

Studies in rats have found that supplementation with Indian spinach extract stimulates the production of testosterone. However, there are currently no human studies on this plant and testosterone levels.

There are many different herbs, vitamins, and supplements that are believed to help improve low T or its symptoms. However, it’s important to remember that in most instances, research into the safety and effectiveness of these therapies in humans is still very limited.

While some alternative low T treatments hold promise, they can also pose risks. It’s possible that some herbs, vitamins, or supplements for low T may interact with other medications or supplements that you’re taking or have a negative effect on other underlying health conditions.

Because of this, always consult your doctor about potential treatment options for low T. They can help you decide what treatments are appropriate for your condition.