What is Testosterone?

Testosterone is the dominant sex hormone and an anabolic steroid in males. In females, both estrogen and testosterone play a role in promoting strength and growth. The growth of muscles, bones, hair, libido and improved energy are all positively affected when you have normal testosterone levels. Since testosterone preserves your muscle mass, it is logical to conclude that it will help you fight insulin resistance and its progression to prediabetes and chronic diseases such as diabetes. This is because muscle mass will help remove the glucose from your bloodstream, thus making it less burdensome on the liver and pancreas. As such, healthy levels of testosterone will promote a healthier life whether you are male or female.

Low testosterone levels have been well studied and demonstrated loss of muscle and bone, lower libido and cognitive function, and increased depression, stress, insomnia, and anxiety. Low testosterone has even been associated with an increased risk of suicide!
The brain, mainly the hypothalamus and pituitary, dictates how much testosterone is made by the sex organs, adrenal glands, and peripheral body cells. There is an interesting distinction between how males and females produce testosterone. In women, 25% of testosterone comes from the ovaries, 25% from the adrenal glands, and 50% from the peripheral cells. In contrast, 95% of testosterone in men comes from the testes, and the remaining 5% comes from adrenals. Since the adrenal glands can be tolled by stress to make cortisol, adrenal fatigue may lower testosterone production. This makes low testosterone levels especially vulnerable in women when compared to men.

Yes, women may be more affected by stress than men. This is even more critical when women go into menopause when ovaries atrophy and the adrenals become responsible for 50 % of testosterone production. This is why stress will affect testosterone levels more adversely in women when compared to men! Various factors have been identified that will affect your testosterone levels. We have created a table of factors that may increase or lower testosterone levels below to help guide your dietary and lifestyle choices.

Testosterone Elevating FactorsTestosterone Lowering Factors
Low insulinHigh Estrogen
Increase Zinc (will lower Iron)High Insulin
Green tea (will lower Iron)Lower Cholesterol intake
Egg yolksHigh cortisol (stress)
MeatsLiver damage
PistachiosHigh Iron

The good news is that lifestyle and dietary factors can be definitively used to affect these factors. For example, intermittent fasting has been identified as helpful to the adrenal glands as they are to the body cells concerning insulin resistance. Minimum fasting intervals of 17 hours have been shown to improve adrenal fatigue. Since cortisol is recognized as a significant factor in lowering testosterone, this lifestyle change is a powerful technique that can be used to increase testosterone levels. Prolonged fasting of greater than 24 hours, termed autophagy, has also been found to boost testosterone levels even more aggressively, with a maximum effect of up to 72 hours of fasting! Testosterone levels must be augmented to reap the benefits of its androgenic or growth effects. A simple blood test can measure your androgen potential to determine whether you have low testosterone levels.

Normal testosterone levels for males should range between 300 to 1200 ng/dl. When you are younger, you will teeter towards higher levels in the range of 800 to 1200, but as you age, you will gradually fall to the lower levels of normal. Unfortunately, nearly half of men over the age of 45 will have levels that fall below 300 ng/dL. Although conventional medicine considers this normal, it is undeniable that these levels are responsible for the changes that men observe as they age. Interestingly, in adult-aged women, normal testosterone levels range much lower between 8 to 60 ng/dL.

Females, similar to males, peak their testosterone levels in their late teens and early twenties and then observe a gradual fall in levels with age. Although these testosterone levels are well below males, lower testosterone in women has been attributed to a lack of sexual desire.
If your testosterone levels are low or you have low testosterone symptoms, you should consider checking whether you have insulin resistance. Once you rule out insulin resistance, you may consider supplementing your testosterone levels. Traditionally, testosterone supplements required intramuscular injections performed weekly or biweekly.

Unfortunately, this treatment is associated with two significant disadvantages. The first is the inconvenience of traveling to your physician’s office for the injections. The second is the undesirable oscillation of testosterone levels which occurs with interval injections. This meant peaks of energy immediately following injections but a feeling of lethargy and even irritability towards the end of the week.
Fortunately, slow-release subcutaneous pellets have replaced intramuscular injections as a more practical alternative that provides continuous testosterone levels. Finally, testosterone pellets are convenient as they are only administered twice annually.

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