If you're deficient in zinc and magnesium, as many athletes and rigorous exercisers are, your natural testosterone level will plummet. Here's why and how to fix it.
Numerous studies on men have shown magnesium to be positively associated with total testosterone. Unfortunately, deficiencies in magnesium are common because people don't generally get enough of it from dietary sources.
What magnesium does is increase the bioavailability of testosterone. As a natural process of aging – or as a consequence of low protein diets – sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) concentrations increase and these globulins bind with testosterone so that it's unavailable to the body. However, one study showed that testosterone preferred binding to magnesium rather than SHBG, thus preserving free levels of testosterone, and hence its anabolic effects, too.
In another study, 30 males, aged 18-22 (both sedentary and active), received 10mg/kg magnesium for four weeks and it elevated their free and total testosterone values. Interestingly, those individuals participating in intensive exercise activities were observed to have even greater increases in testosterone levels in conjunction with magnesium supplementation.
Suggested Intake: If you were to exactly replicate the amounts used in the above study, you'd take 10 mg of magnesium per kg bodyweight, so a 100 kg person (about 220 pounds) would take one gram daily. That's a lot. Better to use more sane doses. The RDA is about 420 mg. a day for an adult male, so to enhance testosterone production, experiment with 750 mg. a day for a few weeks and see how you feel.
Dietary Sources of Magnesium:
- Dark green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, swiss chard)
- Fish (halibut, salmon, mackerel, tuna, pollock)
- Nuts (cashews, peanuts, almonds, brazil nuts)
- Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds)
- Legumes (black beans, edamame, kidney beans)
Low testosterone is commonly associated with zinc deficiencies as androgen receptors are often altered in zinc deficient individuals. Adding zinc to the diet has been shown in various studies to increase levels of luteinizing hormone, a pituitary hormone that stimulates testosterone production. Studies have also shown zinc to be a strong aromatase inhibitor, which can block the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
Suggested Intake: 30 mg daily
Dietary Sources of Zinc:
- Shellfish (oysters, crabs, lobster, shrimp)
- Dairy products (Swiss cheese, yogurt, milk, cheddar cheese, mozzarella)
- Legumes (baked beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, white beans, mung beans)
- Nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts)
- Seeds (pumpkin, squash, pine nuts, chia, flaxseeds)
If eating a lot of collard greens and mung beans isn't something you want to do, simply supplement with ZMA®.