INSIDE THIS ARTICLE:1. What is Testosterone?
2. Testosterone levels in men by age
3. Signs of Low Testosterone
4. How to Maintain Healthy Testosterone Levels
Masculinity tends to be associated with testosterone, as if it is the only thing defining a man. And it’s easy to see why. Testosterone is the major sex hormone in men that influences many of the body’s systems.
While both men and women produce testosterone, men typically produce testosterone at a significantly higher rate. But, like anything else, testosterone levels can change with age. This is why men tend to see increased body fat, lose their libido, and experience other undesirable changes as the years go on.
How does testosterone impact your body? What are normal testosterone levels in men by age? Are there side effects of testosterone imbalances, and how do you maintain balance in your testosterone and hormone levels?
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone that is primarily produced by the gonads (testes or ovaries), and in smaller quantities by the adrenal glands. This hormone is known as an androgen hormone – meaning that it produces male characteristics.
Some body functions driven by male testosterone levels include the development of the penis and testes in adolescence, a deeper voice, muscle mass, facial and body hair growth, and increased sex drive. But these are traits most associated with testosterone. It significantly influences other processes.
Contributes to strong bones
Testosterone is necessary to maintain strong bones. A recent study found that age-related testosterone deficiency was the most important factor of bone loss in elderly men. Normal testosterone levels in men stimulate the cells that contribute to bone formation which helps reduce the likelihood of getting stress fractures or other bone damage from everyday activities. Keeping testosterone at a healthy level pays off as you age.
Supports a healthy metabolism
Male testosterone levels impact metabolism in men by keeping your body functioning at its best. Normal testosterone levels in men support growth of muscle mass (which helps you naturally burn more energy), reduces fat mass to help your body maintain a healthy blood sugar, and may help balance the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates in your meals.
Influences heart health
There is evidence of a relationship between testosterone deficiency and increased risk for heart disease. This hormone can help improve blood flow in the body by dilating blood vessels – which is great for endurance during exercise and getting nutrients to where they need to go.
Not only does testosterone directly affect the heart, normal testosterone levels in men reduce the risk factors that may lead to heart disease. Conditions that can impact your metabolism like diabetes, high triglycerides, and too much belly fat (aka the spare tire) can increase your risk of heart disease.
Natural mood booster
If you’re happy and you know it, you may need to thank your testosterone levels. Testosterone is one of the many hormones that help regulate your mood and may impact the production and metabolism of dopamine, also known as the “happy hormone.” Both low and high testosterone levels are associated with disturbances in mood such as depression and hypomania. Balanced testosterone means a more balanced mood.
Testosterone levels in men by age
Starting in your 30s or 40s, your body’s total testosterone levels begin to change. Male testosterone levels decrease by an average of 1.6% per year, but the changes in testosterone can vary wildly with age. There is an estimated 10-40% of men who have testosterone deficiencies, and the prevalence of low testosterone significantly rises in men after 45 years old.
So what is a good testosterone level to have?
Medical professionals agree that men’s normal testosterone levels are between 300-1000 ng/dL in healthy men. As you can see, that is a very broad range that makes defining “normal” a bit difficult.
A landmark study published in 2017 examined the normal testosterone levels in men across four major cohorts with data from nearly 10,000 men in the United States and United Kingdom. Researchers established testosterone normal range values for men between the ages of 19-99 years.
- Ages 19-39: 229-902 ng/dL
- Ages 40-49: 208-902 ng/dL
- Ages 50-59: 192- 902 ng/dL
- Ages 60-69: 190-902 ng/dL
- Ages 70-79: 190-902 ng/dL
- Ages 80-99: 119-902 ng/dL
In the same study, researchers also found that healthy, non-obese men tended to have a testosterone normal range that was higher than men who were overweight. Other studies found a similar correlation between weight and testosterone levels.
Increased body fat may have a negative impact on hormone signaling between the brain and the testes, leading to decreased production of testosterone. Lower testosterone levels in larger men may also be related to the increased risk of other chronic conditions that can impact your hormones.
Other factors that affect testosterone levels
Research finds that normal testosterone levels in men are affected by factors outside of your control such as ethnicity and chronic diseases. Other factors that impact levels that are within your control include tobacco smoking, exercise habits, living with a romantic partner, the amount and types of protein you eat, and your education status.
Normal testosterone levels in adult men should be at least 300 ng/dL, but optimal testosterone levels are higher. When your testosterone levels get below 300ng/dL, this a sign that your testosterone levels may be too low and may increase risk for side effects.
Signs of Low Testosterone
Low testosterone is also known as “male hypogonadism” – because of the reduced production of testosterone from the testicles.
Common low testosterone symptoms men experience include:
- Increased body fat
- Loss of lean muscle
- Hair loss and decreased beard growth
- Enlarged breast tissue (gynecomastia)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Lower libido
- Low semen volume
- Decreased bone density
- Mood changes and depression
- High cholesterol
- Cognitive decline
- An increased risk of diabetes or heart disease
- An increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Common side effects from having high testosterone levels include:
- High blood pressure Increased appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Overactive libido Infertility and low sperm count
- Aggressive and risky behaviors Increased acne
- Mood swings
- Excessive body hair
- Enlarged prostate.
The lower your testosterone levels, the likelihood of experiencing these side effects increases significantly. Hearing about the consequences of having low testosterone may have you thinking that perhaps more is better. However, that’s not always the case.
One study found that the testosterone normal range isl between 264-916 ng/dL for healthy, non-obese men between 19-39 years. Male testosterone levels greater than this are considered abnormally high and can cause the negative side effects mentioned above.
How to Maintain Healthy Testosterone Levels
Low testosterone can really make you feel like you’ve lost your mojo. Though low T happens naturally with age, there are things that we can do to sustain normal testosterone levels in men over time.
What you eat and drink can actually drop your testosterone levels.
Soy-based foods may negatively impact testosterone – including soy milk, tofu, miso, and edamame. Soy contains phytoestrogens, plant-based compounds that mimic the function of estrogen in the body which could offset testosterone levels when consumed in large amounts. Soy is a debated topic when it comes to hormonal balance – some studies find that regular soy intake reduces normal testosterone levels in men, while others find no significant effects.
If you drink herbal teas or other flavored drinks, you might have seen licorice root as an ingredient on the label. Licorice root may significantly decrease testosterone levels in as little as one week if taken in large quantities. Processed foods high in trans fats may also decrease testosterone and may even reduce sperm count.
Foods that are high in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) like flaxseed, some vegetable oils, and nuts may also decrease testosterone levels.
If you want to balance your testosterone levels, you’ve got to balance your meals. Aim to fill your plate with nutrient-dense vegetables and fruit, quality protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to help you maintain normal male testosterone levels.
Reduce alcohol intake
Cracking open a cold one with the boys might feel manly, but be mindful - drinking two to three alcoholic beverages daily can decrease your testosterone levels. You don’t have to quit drinking. Simply, drink responsibly.
Hitting the gym can be another way to boost male testosterone levels naturally.
Regular exercise not only boosts testosterone levels temporarily, but it can also lead to long-term increases in testosterone due to increased muscle mass. Studies find that physically active men have improved hormone levels than men who may be self-proclaimed couch potatoes.
Engaging in regular exercise may even raise your testosterone levels more than cutting the calories for weight loss. Doing resistance exercises
Managing your stress levels and cortisol can also impact your testosterone. High cortisol levels decrease normal testosterone levels in men. When cortisol regularly runs high it suppresses nearly every other hormone’s normal production and operation, especially when it comes to testosterone.
Supplement with natural products
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