The Best Foods for Increasing Low Testosterone

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men. It plays many roles within the body, including regulating sex drive, bone mass, muscle mass, fat distribution, and red blood cell production.

Around age 40, testosterone levels start to naturally decline by 1%-2% each year. Testosterone deficiency, also known as hypogonadism or low T, affects nearly 30% of men between the ages of 40 and 79.

If you have low testosterone levels, it's important to speak with your healthcare provider to discuss treatment options. You can also make dietary changes to ensure you eat a diet rich in nutrients that are known to support healthy testosterone levels.

This article will discuss foods that may raise testosterone levels, and lifestyle changes you can make to support healthy testosterone levels.

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Why Is Testosterone Important?

Testosterone is a male sex hormone, or androgen, produced by a man's testes, and a female's ovaries in small amounts.

In men, testosterone plays a key role in:

  • Mood regulation
  • Hair growth
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Sex drive
  • Sperm count
  • Development of male sex organs

Normal testosterone levels in males range from 280 to 1,100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL).

Although testosterone is often considered a male sex hormone, it also plays an important role in women's bodies.

In women, testosterone plays a role in:

  • Reproduction
  • Bone mass
  • Overall health

Normal female testosterone levels range from 15 to 70 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL).

Effects of Low Testosterone

Men and women both need testosterone to function properly. However, low testosterone levels tend to cause more problems in men.

In men, low testosterone levels can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Reduced sex drive
  • Increased body fat
  • Trouble getting or maintaining an erection
  • Depression
  • Brittle bones
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Infertility
  • Increased breast size
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of body and facial hair

Symptoms of low testosterone levels in women include:

Testosterone Boosting Foods

The good news is there are treatments available that can help improve your testosterone levels. Adopting a healthy diet rich in testosterone-boosting foods can also promote healthy testosterone production.

Here, we've compiled a list of foods that may naturally boost testosterone.

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are often considered superfoods because of their health benefits. Both are rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are known for fighting inflammation and functioning as an antioxidant.

In addition to benefiting overall health and wellness, some studies suggest these two foods may naturally increase testosterone production.

One study in rats found that daily consumption of fresh onion juice over four weeks led to a significant increase in testosterone levels.

Another review of 18 studies suggests that garlic can increase sperm production, testosterone levels, and fertility. Researchers attributed these benefits to its antioxidant properties.

However, these studies call for additional clinical trials to investigate how garlic and onions can help male fertility and testosterone production.

Meat and Seafood

Meat and seafood are rich in zinc. Oysters, in particular, contain more zinc per serving than any other food. Red meat, crab, and lobster also have high levels of zinc.

In males, a zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss, delayed sexual maturation, and low testosterone levels.

Although zinc deficiency is uncommon in the United States, certain groups are at an increased risk.

Those who are at risk for a zinc deficiency include:

Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy greens are very important for our overall health. They're also chock-full of magnesium, a mineral that may positively influence testosterone levels in men.

Studies suggest that magnesium deficiency may play a role in testosterone deficiency. A 2021 study in Taiwanese men found that a diet low in leafy greens, beans, and legumes was associated with lower testosterone levels and decreased sperm concentration.

An older study found that magnesium supplementation increased testosterone levels in sedentary participants and those who were athletes. More significant improvements were seen in those who exercised.

Although the exact relationship remains unclear, researchers believe that magnesium may improve testosterone production in the body by decreasing oxidative stress.

Magnesium-rich foods include spinach, kale, collard greens, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Sources of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is needed for calcium absorption, a healthy immune system, and maintaining strong bones.

It is also very important for testosterone production. Some studies show that men with lower vitamin D levels are more likely to have low testosterone levels than men with higher levels.

However, research remains conflicted. One study found that vitamin D treatment in middle-aged, healthy men led to no significant increase in testosterone levels.

Nevertheless, vitamin D is important for your overall health and wellness and plays a crucial role in many important processes throughout the body.

We get vitamin D from our skin when exposed to sunlight, our diet, and supplements.

There are only a few dietary sources of vitamin D, including:

  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, and mackerel)
  • Egg yolks
  • Mushrooms
  • Cheese
  • Beef liver

Lifestyle Changes to Boost Testosterone

In addition to adopting a healthy diet, making lifestyle changes can also naturally support healthy testosterone levels.

One of the best ways to increase testosterone is by exercising. Exercise can improve testosterone levels because it increases muscle mass. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and lifting weights have also been shown to enhance testosterone levels.

In contrast, endurance exercise such as cycling or running for hours at a time may actually decrease testosterone because it leads to excess cortisol production.

Regular exercise can also promote a healthy weight. Studies suggest those who are obese have lower testosterone levels.

Getting enough sleep is also essential in maintaining healthy testosterone levels. Studies show that getting less than six hours of sleep each night can decrease testosterone levels by as much as 15% the next day.

Other ways to naturally optimize testosterone levels include:

  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Limiting stress
  • Avoiding opioids or pain medications
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight

Summary

Testosterone is important for many functions within the body. A man's testosterone levels naturally decline with age, and certain conditions may also contribute to low testosterone levels.

Diet and lifestyle changes can help a person maintain healthy testosterone levels. Foods that are high in antioxidants, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D may help boost low testosterone levels.

Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and limiting stress can also help promote healthy hormone levels.

A Word From Verywell

Low testosterone levels can lead to unpleasant symptoms and negatively impact your self-esteem. Fortunately, there are diet and lifestyle changes and treatments that can help restore your testosterone levels.

If you have low testosterone levels or suspect that they are low, speak with your healthcare provider to discuss testing and treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the signs and symptoms of low testosterone?

    Symptoms of low testosterone include decreased sex drive, depression, fatigue, hair loss, and loss of muscle mass.

  • Do higher testosterone levels affect muscle mass?

    Testosterone enhances the effect of growth hormone, which may make strength training and exercise more effective at building muscle mass.

  • Can ginger increase testosterone levels?

    Animal studies suggest that ginger supplementation can increase testosterone production in males by reducing oxidative stress, increasing blood flow in the testes, and increasing luteinizing hormone production. However, more human research is needed.

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21 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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