You already know that testosterone is the main male sex hormone produced by humans, and you probably also know that both men and women produce testosterone at differing levels. Did you know, though, that recent scientific research has found that testosterone is involved with multiple systems of the body and that a testosterone deficiency can lead to numerous issues?
For years, men with low testosterone counts have taken testosterone supplements to help with fat loss, muscle gain, libido, and other issues. Bodybuilders and weightlifters have also taken testosterone to improve recovery time and build more muscle mass and strength, as well. We know that testosterone injections can be effective in all of these aspects, but are testosterone boosters really effective?
Testosterone Injections vs. Boosters
When you go to a doctor for prescribed testosterone injections, you will have synthetic testosterone injected into your body. When you take a testosterone booster, you will take a pill made of herbs and other supplements designed to increase your testosterone levels naturally. While these supplements do not require a prescription or doctor’s supervision, the question remains – do they really work? The answer lies in which supplements you take.
An herb originating from India, fenugreek is currently under investigation for its anabolic properties. In a recent study, participants were either given fenugreek or a placebo over a period of several weeks. All participants engaged in resistance training throughout the study, and all participants noticed increased strength. The participants who took fenugreek, however, saw significantly more increases in strength than those who took the placebo.
Men naturally produce low levels of estrogen in their bodies, in addition to testosterone. This is primarily done when the aromatase enzyme converts testosterone and other androgens into estrogen. Some testosterone boosters seek to increase testosterone levels through the use of aromatase inhibitors. These block the aromatase enzyme, thereby both decreasing estrogen levels and, at least slightly, increasing testosterone levels.
D-Aspartic Acid (D-AA)
D-AA actually occurs naturally in men’s bodies. This amino acid is found in testicular cells and acts as a messenger between them and the brain. Basically, when D-AA is present, it signals the body to convert cholesterol into testosterone. Thus, taking D-AA supplements should increase strength by decreasing cholesterol levels and increasing testosterone levels.
Potential Side Effects of Testosterone Boosters
While testosterone boosters have shown some increase in performance and muscle growth, there are also some side effects and potential problems to consider. According to a 2010 study in The New England Journal of Medicine, testosterone supplements were associated with an increased risk of heart disease in men over the age of 65. Further studies have shown that this risk may extend to younger men, as well.
Testosterone supplements have also been linked with increased instances of testicular cancer. While these instances may be fewer and farther between than those associated with testosterone injections, they still pose a potential health risk.
In addition to these issues, other potential side effects of taking testosterone boosters include acne, enlarged breasts, sleep apnea, and testicular shrinkage. However, before all of this talk of side effects scares you away entirely, a study published in the National Library of Medicine states that concerns about negative side effects have been overstated while benefits in multiple systems of the body have been understated.
Clearly, from what we can see here, testosterone boosters can have some positive effects, but they may also cause some problems, as well. Understanding whether or not those problems pose significant risks to most users will require more studies, but current findings look pretty good for those who want to gain more muscle, improve their sex drive, and lose fat.