Men... Losing Strength (or hair)? This Natural Hormone Can Help
Yes, we're talking testosterone. While it is necessary for both men and women, it is often referred to as the muscle-building hormone for men. I'll dedicated a future post to its importance for women! Men, listen up - you need testosterone, but I'm not going to recommend that you take any anabolic steroid hormones or anything like that.
I am going to give you two solid tips on how you can boost your testosterone levels naturally with quality supplements.
Tip #1: Get enough zinc
Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with a number of processes in your body (it helps over 300 enzymes). Zinc helps your immune system, helps to produce critical proteins and DNA, and also helps with wound healing. Enough zinc is necessary to maintain healthy skin and for optimal ability to taste and smell. Zinc is an antioxidant and can be supplemented to support optimal levels of testosterone because it helps the enzymes that converts cholesterol into testosterone. Yes, you just read that cholesterol should convert into testosterone. So, for my non-Vegans, eat your eggs - INCLUDING the yolks. Eggs DO NOT raise cholesterol to unhealthy levels, as once thought...
Zinc is found mostly in red meat, poultry, egg yolks, and shellfish. Some plants can also provide zinc such as beans and nuts. The best dietary source is oysters. Remember to buy organic, grass fed and wild caught where appropriate.
The daily recommended dose of zinc for men is 11 mg/day (for women it's 8 mg/day). I don't always go by the current recommended doses, because I feel they are often way too loo, but that is for another post. Low zinc levels were thought to be rare, but in my opinion, deficiencies are increasing. You may be more apt to a zinc deficiency if you are a vegetarian/vegan, athlete, or someone who sweats a lot (zinc is lost in sweat). And low zinc levels have been linked to low testosterone levels.
Of course, if you don't get enough zinc in your diet then you can always supplement. Before you do, however, consider a few things:
● It is possible to get too much zinc so unless your doctor tells you, don't take more than 40 mg/day. For many people, just 5-10 mg/day is enough to prevent deficiency (even though the goal is to have adequate levels, not just to prevent a deficiency.
● Zinc supplements can also interact with certain medications so be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if zinc supplements are safe for you.
● Zinc supplements are best taken 2 hours away from any medications (if it's safe to use it at all while taking those medications) and should be taken with food.
Tip #2: Get enough vitamin D
Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” is actually the most common nutrient that we in North America just simply don't get enough of. Not only is it not very abundant in foods but most places far from the equator don't get enough sunlight to produce adequate levels year round. In addition, people of color have a harder time converting Vitamin D from the sun, so I always recommend this as a staple supplement to be taken daily.
Another fact that may surprise you is that Vitamin D actually functions like a HORMONE in the body, helping to keep things balanced, prevent the FLU and stave off depression!
Vitamin D is known to help us absorb calcium from our foods and is also necessary for our immune system, nervous system and muscular system. As with zinc, if you're deficient in this nutrient, you may experience increased testosterone levels after supplementing.
Vitamin D deficiency is most commonly associated with bone conditions such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, but as you can see, a deficiency can cause plenty of other conditions as well.
It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is found in fatty fish, organ meats, and egg yolks. Unfortunately, it isn't abundant in most other un-fortified foods.
The bottom line with vitamin D is that you may need to supplement. Of course if you're always outside in the sun or eat fatty fish every day you may be the exception. You can always ask your doctor to check your blood levels to be sure because vitamin D is another one of those nutrients where more is not always better. We also offer an easy at-home test that evaluates your Vitamin D blood levels. Visit our Products page to learn more.
Here are a few tips to supplement with vitamin D safely and effectively:
● Read your labels and don't overdo it. Don't supplement with more than 10,000 IU/day unless recommended or supervised by your practitioner.
● Have a sickly child? Be sure they are getting enough Vitamin D. Discussing this with a holistic or functional medicine practitioner (like myself) may (sadly) get you farther than asking your child's pediatrician. After all, when's the last time he/she recommended you give your little one Vitamin D - and in an amount higher than 1,000-2,000 IU???
● As with zinc (and most other supplements) you should check with your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any medications.
● Take your vitamin D with some fat (a meal) to help your body absorb this vitamin. It is often recommended that you take it with the largest meal of the day.
● Note that vitamin D is also found in cod liver oil and in some multivitamins, so you may not need to take it separately (read your labels). I usually recommend taking at least 5,000 IU daily for adults, although each person is individual.
If you aren't getting enough zinc and/or vitamin D every day your testosterone levels may be low; however, don't overdo it on these two essential nutrients. Get help from a holistic practitioner. Another very helpful supplement is actually an herb - it's called Tribulus fruit. It has a long history of helping increase testosterone levels naturally. As a practitioner, I always recommend having a saliva hormone and adrenal test done (so you know your levels) before you begin modulating hormone levels. Nevertheless, this herb has produced incredible results! For now, you'll do your body good by supplementing with Zinc and Vitamin D, as they have numerous other benefits besides helping to keep hormones balanced.
Recipe (w/vitamin D and zinc): Honey Sesame Salmon
- 2-3 lbs salmon fillets, wild caught only please
- ¼ cup gluten-free soy sauce, like Tamari, Bragg's Liquid Aminos or Coconut Aminos
- ¼ cup sesame oil
- 1 organic lemon, juiced
- 2 tablespoons (preferably raw) honey or coconut nectar
- 1” piece of ginger, shredded or 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil (or refined without hexane)
- 2 tablespoons diced green onions or chives
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, any variety
Mix soy sauce/tamari/aminos, sesame oil, lemon juice, honey/coconut nectar, ginger, and garlic together to make a marinade. Place salmon in a glass dish and cover with marinade. Let sit for a few hours or overnight.
Heat a large cast iron frying pan over medium heat and add coconut oil. Place salmon in pan skin side down and cook for 2-3 minutes. No need to flip, but optional.
Pour marinade into the pan, lower the heat and cook for 3-5 more minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork. You can cover the pan with a lid to hasten the process and allow for a little steaming action.
Sprinkle with diced green onions/chives and sesame seeds.
Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Wild salmon ensures your fish is not genetically engineered. It can also contain up to 4 times the amount of vitamin D as farmed salmon.