—by Cate Stevenson, BA
Testosterone is an important hormone in the male body. It is found in women, too, but men produce eight to 10 times more testosterone than women.
Testosterone is needed in men to help maintain muscle mass and strength, as well as bone mass and strength. Testosterone also helps to maintain a healthy libido, and mental and physical energy levels.
Medical experts estimate that one out of every four men over the age of 30 has low testosterone levels. Research also reveals that only one out of every 20 men, however, actually show clinical symptoms related to testosterone deficiency.
It is normal for men’s testosterone levels to decrease slightly as they age. But low levels — less than 300 nanograms per deciliter — can make it difficult for men to feel healthy.
It’s not surprising, then, that many men turn to testosterone therapy. Taking testosterone treatments comes with some risks, however. Recently, researchers at the Boston Medical Center have found that men trying to boost their testosterone levels with a gel containing the hormone may be at risk for heart attacks and high blood pressure.
In fact, the cardiovascular problems were significant enough that the trial was ordered to halt. The men who experienced cardiovascular events during the trial were treated by their personal physicians for their specific conditions. No new participants can be enrolled in this study. The research team is going to continue to monitor the health of all participants for at least another year after stopping testosterone use to further evaluate effects of the gel treatment.
Is there anything you can do to protect against low testosterone levels and avoid having to take testosterone treatments?
Eat healthy, but watch out for low-calorie diets. Over the long term, eating fewer calories than you need for your body weight will lower your testosterone levels.
Animal protein seems to be linked with higher testosterone levels. Try to add some lean beef, poultry, fish, and pork to your weekly diet. You don’t need to eat red meat every day — just enough to keep your levels up. Protein is important for healthy testosterone levels, but too much can have a negative effect.
Zinc is an important mineral when it comes to maintaining testosterone levels. Keep your levels up by eating foods high in this mineral, such as beef, turkey, salmon,, dairy products, beans, whole grains, and pumpkin seeds.
Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are all known to lower levels of estrogens in the body. Estrogens can block the production of testosterone — so you want to help keep them in check by eating these veggies.
One last thing to consider: alcohol can increase the rate at which testosterone is converted into estrogen. Remember to only drink in moderation.