Testosterone is one of the most important hormones in regulating a wide range of body functions. To maximise the benefits of testosterone, normal levels of circulating testosterone are essential.
Certain minerals are essential for the body to produce as well as regulate the levels of testosterone. In this article, we will cover the best minerals for testosterone regulation, their sources and the relationship these minerals have in regulating testosterone.
Best minerals for testosterone
Importance of testosterone in men's health
Testosterone is one of the vital sex hormones in men. One of the key functions of testosterone is to regulate libido (sex drive), muscle mass, strength, and bone mass. It also plays a key role in the fat distribution of the body as some of the testosterone in the body converts into estradiol. Lower limits can lead to increased body fat.1
Role of minerals in supporting healthy testosterone levels
A variety of minerals are needed in the production of testosterone. Some of these minerals are readily available as over-the-counter (OTC) supplements or in the food we consume. Here are some of the key minerals which support healthy testosterone levels in the body.
Overview of zinc's role in testosterone production:
Zinc plays an essential role in the conversion of testosterone in our body. The active form of testosterone, which exerts its hormonal capabilities, is dihydrotestosterone. Zinc plays an active role in the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone in our body.2
Sources of zinc-rich foods
- Seafoods, particularly oysters, are a rich source of zinc.
- Breakfast cereals fortified with zinc are also a major source.
- Beans and nuts, although they offer less bioavailable forms of zinc3
Recommended daily intake of zinc:
The recommended daily dietary allowance for zinc in adults is 11mg for men and 8mg for females.
Potential benefits of zinc supplementation
Other than regulating the effects of normal levels of testosterone, zinc has many other benefits, such as:
- Strengthening the immune system.
- Facilitating wound healing
- Help alleviate symptoms of diarrhoea in children.
- Decrease the progression of eye disease.
Overview of magnesium's impact on testosterone levels
Magnesium is another key mineral which increases the total and free testosterone levels within the body. Magnesium provides much-needed energy at a cellular level in the form of ATP, which is essential for the mitochondrial function within cells.4
Dietary sources of magnesium
- Meat source: Salmon, beef, chicken
- Vegetable source: Spinach, avocado, carrots
- Beans and nuts: Pumpkin seeds, edamame, cashew, black beans.
Recommended daily intake of magnesium
The recommended daily dietary intake of magnesium for males is 400-420 mg, and for females, it’s 310-320 mg.
Potential benefits of magnesium supplementation
- Magnesium plays a key role in managing stress and maintaining sleep cycles.
- It has also been shown to regulate normal blood pressure, thus beneficial for heart health.
- It is a crucial backbone in the formation of bones.
- Magnesium helps in the digestion of fat, glucose and protein.
Understanding the connection between vitamin D and testosterone
Vitamin D is another mineral which is important in the regulation of testosterone within the body. Vitamin D is essential for many physiological functions of the body, and vitamin D deficiency can result in the development of many chronic diseases. However, when it comes to the question of testosterone, studies have revealed that lower levels of vitamin D result in lower concentrations of testosterone within the body.5
Natural sources of vitamin D
The natural source of vitamin D is direct sunlight. Other than sunlight, vitamin D can be found in dietary sources such as:
- Vitamin-D fortified cereal
- Vitamin-D fortified eggs
- Fatty fish.
Recommended daily intake of vitamin D
The daily recommended intake for vitamin D for both adult males and females is 15 mcg, which is 600 IU.
Importance of sun exposure for vitamin D synthesis:
It is recommended that adults expose themselves to 10-30 minutes of midday sunlight to maintain vitamin D levels. The relationship between sunlight and vitamin D is that sunlight readily exposes specific cells in the skin and triggers a pathway that involves the production of 7-dehydrocholesterol, which ultimately forms cholecalciferol, known as Vitamin D3. This cholecalciferol is ultimately converted by the kidneys into 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D3, also known as calcitriol. The active form of vitamin D within the body is necessary to complete a range of physiological functions.
Overview of iron's impact on testosterone levels
Iron is another essential mineral for the regulation of many physiologic functions of the body. Other than being the building block for red blood cells, iron as a mineral partakes in important bodily functions as many of the body's enzymes need to function. However, when it comes to the sexual health of men, excess iron can negatively impact their health. Certain iron overload diseases, such as Beta-thalassemia and hereditary hemochromatosis, can lead to sexual dysfunction or even infertility. The relationship between iron and testosterone is a paradoxical one, as studies have shown that iron decreases testosterone levels. On the other hand, testosterone is known to regulate the iron levels in the body as increased levels of testosterone increase body stores of iron and increase iron absorption.6
Main sources of iron:
- Meat sources: red meat, liver (avoid during pregnancy)
- Beans and nuts: Edamame, red kidney beans, chickpeas, soybean
- Fortified breakfast cereals
Recommended daily intake of iron
The recommended daily intake of iron for adult men is 8 mg, and for females, it is 15 mg.
Ensuring proper iron levels for optimal testosterone production:
As iron can negatively impact testosterone and sexual health, it is important to be wary of iron overload. Familial diseases like thalassemia or haemochromatosis result in excessive deposition of iron in the body, which can have a range of adverse clinical effects. Thus, it is important for individuals who suffer from iron overload diseases to be under the supervision of a specialist with regular checkups on iron levels to ensure it is within normal range.
The effect of certain minerals in maintaining the levels of testosterone in the body is of immense importance. While there are certain minerals, such as zinc and magnesium, which directly help in the production of the active form of testosterone in the body for physiological functions, other minerals, such as vitamin D and iron, also help in maintaining the balance of testosterone. It is important to remember certain overload of minerals can damage the body’s ability to maintain normal testosterone so it’s important to follow the recommended amount of intake of these minerals.
The recommended amount of minerals is readily available in all food sources around us. Whether an individual follows a vegetarian diet or a meat-based diet, food sources tend to contain essential minerals in varying amounts. Thus, an individual must follow a balanced diet containing protein-rich, carbohydrate-rich and fat-rich food sources as all of these contain the micronutrients and can supply the body with the essential amount to maintain its physiologic functions.
The full-fledged effect that minerals have on the physiology of the body is still yet to be understood. Various studies are now being conducted to see the effect of certain mineral deficiencies on the inflammatory response of the body, with more studies on the way. Metabolomics is a promising field of health science that delves into how certain metabolised by-products affect the body at a molecular level. However, certain individuals with hereditary or acquired conditions in which certain minerals can cause overload within the body or how they are metabolised. In these cases, individuals with health conditions are encouraged to seek medical advice before supplementing themselves with certain minerals.
- Wein H. Understanding How Testosterone Affects Men [Internet]. National Institutes of Health (NIH). 2013. Available from: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/understanding-how-testosterone-affects-men#:~:text=Testosterone%20is%20a%20sex%20hormone
- Te L, Liu J, Ma J, Wang S. Correlation between serum zinc and testosterone: A systematic review. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology [Internet]. 2023 Mar 1;76:127124. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0946672X22002048
- National Institutes of Health. Zinc [Internet]. Nih.gov. National Institutes of Health; 2016. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/
- Maggio M, De Vita F, Lauretani F, Nouvenne A, Meschi T, Ticinesi A, et al. The Interplay between Magnesium and Testosterone in Modulating Physical Function in Men. International Journal of Endocrinology [Internet]. 2014;2014:1–9. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3958794/
- Damas-Fuentes M, Boughanem H, Molina-Vega M, Tinahones FJ, Fernández-García JC, Macías-González M. 25-hydroxyvitamin D and testosterone levels association through body mass index: A cross-sectional study of young men with obesity. Frontiers in Endocrinology. 2022:2105.
- Gabrielsen JS, Lamb DJ, Lipshultz LI. Iron and a man’s reproductive health: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Curr Urol Rep [Internet]. 2018 Aug [cited 2023 Nov 2];19(8):60. Available from: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s11934-018-0808-x