Testosterone is the main male hormone that largely controls development such as body hair growth, testicular function, muscle and bone mass, and the male productive organs (1).
The hormones in the body must be in balance in order to maintain testosterone levels (2). Testosterone levels also typically decrease with age and some chronic conditions (3).
Even though testosterone is primarily a male hormone, females produce small amounts of this hormone as well (4). Women produce testosterone in their ovaries, adrenal glands, fat cells, and skin cells (4). The role of estrogen and testosterone is necessary for female reproductive tissue growth and muscle mass (5).
There are many signs and symptoms when a male has low testosterone levels. These include reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and decreased bone or muscle mass to name a few. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, you may be low in testosterone.
Along with any treatments prescribed by your doctor, foods in your diet may also contribute to maintaining adequate testosterone levels.
Summary: Testosterone is the main male hormone that controls sexual development, sperm production, muscle and bone mass. Women also produce smaller amounts of testosterone. Testosterone levels normally decrease with age and some chronic conditions. Along with medications that may be prescribed by your doctor to address low testosterone, you may want to also consider incorporating foods rich in nutrients that are thought to possibly help testosterone levels.
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Foods that may Boost Testosterone
Check out the list of foods that may boost testosterone below and see if you can include more of these healthy foods in your regular diet.
There is some limited evidence that magnesium may help improve testosterone levels in those who are magnesium deficient (6). Avocados are a powerful source of magnesium (7).
Magnesium plays a critical role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body, so it is no surprise that it would play a critical role in the production of testosterone (8).
Avocados are also high in zinc, and some research suggests that zinc supplementation can improve testosterone levels in those who are deficient in zinc (9). However, it is important not to consume more zinc than the recommended upper limit (10). Excessive intake of zinc can impair the absorption of copper, causing a copper deficiency (11).
Summary: Avocados are rich in magnesium and zinc. There is some evidence that increasing intake of magnesium and zinc can help improve testosterone levels in individuals who are deficient in those nutrients.
Tuna is another excellent source of dietary magnesium and zinc, so it can play a crucial role in boosting testosterone, too.
Tuna is also full of many nutrients that provide health benefits as well as assisting with testosterone levels (12). Tuna can also help to promote heart health with a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids (13).
Adding tuna to your diet is one of the easiest things to do. Simply buy canned tuna to get an easy, quick meal for a boost of healthy fats and testosterone. Or just add more raw tuna to do your diet in the form of sushi. There are many ways to consume more tuna on a budget and the fly.
Summary: Tuna is another great source of zinc and magnesium, and contains many other nutrients including vitamin D and omega-3’s that provide many health benefits.
3. Egg Yolk
Egg yolks contain vitamin D, which is a precursor to the formation of testosterone in the body.
Vitamin D is technically a hormone, and it is necessary for optimal bone health, especially growth. One study found that taking vitamin D supplements improved testosterone levels in overweight men (14). However, other studies have found no effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men (15), (16).
There is also some limited research that the protein in egg whites may also raise blood testosterone levels a few hours after eating in overweight men. However, there needs to be more research to understand if protein improves testosterone levels for longer periods of time (17).
Add some eggs to your diet if you think you may be low in testosterone, and make sure to eat the egg yolks, too. The egg yolks hold most of the nutrition, and the egg whites only contain protein.
Summary: Egg yolks are a good source of vitamin D. There is some contradictory evidence that vitamin D may improve testosterone levels.
Oysters are another great source of zinc (10). There is some evidence that for those who are already zinc deficient, increasing zinc intake may improve testosterone levels (9).
Oysters are also high many other beneficials nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin D, iron, and more. These nutrients are essential for heart, bone and muscle health (18), (19), (20), (21).
You can buy oysters fresh in their shell, or you can enjoy them right out of the can. Add some tasty oysters to your diet to get a boost of testosterone.
Summary: Oysters are another great source of zinc. There is some evidence that increasing zinc intake can improve testosterone levels in men who are zinc deficient.
Many types of beef contain nutrients that may help to boost testosterone, whether organ meats like the liver or your typical slice of beef.
The beef liver is particularly high in zinc and vitamin D, essential nutrients that may help to give testosterone a boost. But lean beef itself is also a great source of zinc (10).
Adding some beef or beef liver to your diet provides protein, iron, zinc, selenium, and more (22). While there is some evidence that eating red meat is linked to higher risk of colon cancer, eating beef in moderation provides some nutritional benefits (23). And you do not need much to get the job done. Follow the portion trick of no larger than the palm of your hand, and you will be good to go.
Summary: Beef and beef liver is another source of zinc and vitamin D, nutrients that may help improve testosterone levels in those who are deficient.
One studies found that garlic supplementation can boost testicular testosterone in rats fed a high protein diet (24). However, more research is needed to determine if garlic has this effect on humans.
Garlic is an extremely nutritious vegetable that is a popular addition to most meals. It adds a boost of flavor along with antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a healthful food (25), (26).
Summary: One study found garlic can improve testosterone levels in rats. However, it is unknown if garlic has this effect on humans.
Onions and garlic are a part of the same family, and they may have similar benefits because of that. Further studies in rats show that onion may have a potent effect at boosting testosterone levels, too.
In a review of multiple studies in rats, 75 percent of research studies found an effect of the consumption of onions or onion extracts on testosterone levels in rats (27). Further research is necessary to understand onions effect on testosterone levels in humans.
Onions are also helpful to add to your diet for a variety of reasons. They may help to decrease inflammation and are associated with lower risk of heart disease (28), (29). Add some red, white, or yellow onions to your next meal for a healthy boost of nutrition.
Summary: Similar to garlic, onion has been found to increase testosterone levels in rats. Further research is needed to understand if onions have this effect in humans.
8. Nuts and Seeds
Many nuts and seeds are full of beneficial dietary magnesium. Magnesium may help improve testosterone levels in those who are magnesium deficient (6).
Brazil nuts, peanuts, almonds, and cashews can all be a part of the nut family that provide magnesium (8). Seeds high in magnesium include pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds (8). Nuts and seeds provide many other healthful nutrients, including heart healthy fats and dietary fiber (30).
Add some of these nuts and seeds to your snack routine, smoothies, or your next meal to get some of the testosterone boosting benefits.
Summary: Nuts and seeds are another type of food high in magnesium. Magnesium may help improve testosterone levels in those who are deficient.
9. Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard, dandelion greens, bok choy, and more are all high in magnesium (8). Magnesium is necessary to produce testosterone in the body, and there is some evidence that magnesium can improve testosterone levels in those who are deficient (6).
Cruciferous green vegetables like broccoli and Brussel sprouts also contain magnesium (8). Just like nuts, dark leafy greens including many beneficial nutrients, like vitamin K, vitamin A, antioxidants and fiber (31).
Adding some greens to your diet cannot hurt for most people. Try out a new dark leafy green today and see if you can add more of these nutrient-dense foods to your everyday routine.
Summary: Dark leafy greens provide many health benefits. They are also a good source of magnesium.
Pineapple is another fruit that is purported to have effects on maintaining testosterone levels.
That is because pineapples are also full of the enzyme bromelain. A single study found that bromelain supplementation helped to maintain testosterone concentrations in competitive cyclists. However, it is not known if bromelin or even just eating pineapple alone has these effects on the general population (32).
Other studies of bromelain have found that this enzyme may help reduce levels of inflammation, improve digestion, and even fight sinus problems (33), (34). Add some more pineapple to your diet as an easy frozen or dried snack, or simply enjoy it in its natural state.
Summary: Pineapple is purported to help maintain testosterone levels due to the presence of the enzyme, bromelain. However, more research is needed to understand if bromelain boosts testosterone levels.
11. Probiotic Foods
There has been a lot of research on the effects of probiotics and testosterone production in mice. In one study, probiotics helped to sustain youthful testosterone levels among aging mice (35). However, there needs to be research in humans to understand if probiotics are also helpful for human testosterone levels.
Probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, and more. Probiotics also have many other potential health benefits, including helping manage blood pressure, preventing upper respiratory infections, and improving the side effects of antibiotics (36), (37), and (38).
These foods can be easy to add to your regular diet, too. Kefir is a form of drinkable yogurt with more probiotic contents than regular yogurt. Tempeh can be an excellent substitute for meat for a plant-based alternative.
Summary: Probiotics are another food that has been found to help testosterone levels in mice, but the effects in humans are unknown.
Testosterone plays a crucial role in male and female bodies, especially in males. It is a male hormone that is necessary for reproductive function in both sexes. Some foods may help to boost your testosterone levels naturally.
There is some evidence that foods rich in zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D may help improve testosterone levels in those who are deficient in these nutrients. However, more research is needed to truly understand the effects of these nutrients on testosterone levels.
Make sure to always seek out a medical professional if you think you may need treatment for low testosterone. If you suffer from low testosterone level symptoms, you may also benefit from trying if some of these foods help also help boost testosterone levels.
Summary: Testosterone is a crucial hormone for people of all genders, but especially men. Always make sure to ask a medical professional if you think you may need treatment for low testosterone. There is some evidence that some nutrients, including zinc, vitamin D, and magnesium, may help boost testosterone levels in those who are deficient in these nutrients. In addition to medication, incorporating some of these foods in your diet may also help testosterone levels.