(Note: This was originally a livestream in my Facebook group Second Act Fitness (come join us!), but after talking to myself (essentially) for 12 minutes and apparently due to technical issues, the video never posted. So here we are…)
Hey guys – how’s your strength? Are you losing some of yours?
There is so much going on in our bodies – millions of biochemical reactions and all of them need nutrients! It only takes a couple of key deficiencies to lead to low testosterone levels. Did you know that you need enough zinc and vitamin D to produce enough testosterone? Do you know which foods are the best sources of them? Do you know what to look out for before you consider supplements?
No? Well, I can help you with that!
Guys, I know you know what testosterone is, but I’m here to help you boost your levels naturally. But no worries, I’m not going to recommend that you take any anabolic steroid hormones! Instead, we’re going to talk about what boosts your levels naturally, with food, or with high-quality supplements.
First off, let’s talk about zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with a number of processes in your body and over 300 enzymes. Zinc helps your immune system, helps produce critical proteins and DNA, and also helps with wound healing. You have to have enough zinc to maintain healthy skin and for the best possible ability to taste and smell. Zinc is an antioxidant, and as such can be supplemented to help support testosterone levels, because it helps the enzymes that converts cholesterol into testosterone.
How much zinc are we talking? The daily recommended dose for men is 11 mg/day (for women it’s 8 mg/day). Low zinc levels are rare, but tend to occur in vegetarians/vegans, athletes, and people who sweat a lot, since zinc is lost in sweat. Therefore, low zinc levels have been linked to low testosterone levels.
The best dietary sources of zinc are found mostly in red meat, poultry, egg yolks, and shellfish. Beans and nuts are plant sources of zinc, but the very best source is oysters. Uh, yah – no oysters on the half-shell for me thank you. Slimy little buggers anyway.
Of course, if you don’t get enough zinc in your diet you can always use a non-slimy supplement. There are some things to keep in mind though:
- You CAN get too much zinc. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, never take more than 40 mg/day. For a lot of people, just 5-10 mg/day is enough to keep you from being deficient.
- Zinc supplements don’t play well with certain medications. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if zinc supplements are safe for you and any meds you’re taking.
- Supplements are best taken spaced two hours from any medications (if it’s safe to use them at all while taking those medications). You should also take them with food.
Helllllooooooo winter; goodbye sunshine, as in vitamin D.
Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” is the most common nutrient of which North Americans just don’t get enough. It’s not prevalent in food, and most places far from the equator don’t get enough sunshine to produce adequate levels year-round. You may have heard of bone conditions like rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults? Yup, Vitamin D deficiencies can cause these because it’s a big helper to calcium absorption. It’s also necessary for our immune system, nervous system, and muscular system. And just like with zinc, if this nutrient is deficiant you may accomplish increased testosterone levels after supplementing.
It is a fat-soluble vitamin (along with Vitamins A, E and K) and is found in fatty fish, organ meats, and egg yolks. Tip: Wild salmon can contain up to four times the amount of vitamin D as farmed salmon. Unfortunately it isn’t abundant in most other un-fortified foods. Also unfortunately, I’m in the minority because I just happen to like liver! But that’s irrelevant here…
Unless you’re always outside in the sun or eat some fatty fish every day, you may need to supplement your Vitamin D. Your doctor can check your blood levels to be sure, because vitamin D is another one of those nutrients where more is not always better.
A few tips to supplement with Vitamin D safely and effectively:
- Read your labels and don’t overdo it. Never supplement with more than 4,000IU/day unless supervised by your doctor. Note the difference here – that’s International Units (IU) and NOT milligrams (mg).
- Just like zinc and most other supplements, check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking any medications before just popping a pill.
- Take Vitamin D with some fat to help your body absorb this vitamin. It is often recommended it be taken with the largest meal of the day.
- Vitamin D is also found in cod liver oil and multivitamins. Read your labels to be sure you really need to take it as a separate supplement.
The bottom line is this: While your testosterone levels may be a bit low without these two important nutrients, be sure to check with your doctor so you don’t overdo in your zeal to supplement them.