Does Almond Milk Lower Testosterone?

With the rise in the popularity of veganism, we are curious about the health changes this lifestyle can bring. The vegan doctrine requires dairy to be avoided so an alternative is required. This can include oat milk and other milk produced from nuts including almonds. This poses the question of what effect these alternatives have on our health - one such aspect that may be affected is a person’s testosterone. 

Almond milk requires just two ingredients - almond and water. Almonds can be ground or blended into a paste which is then strained into water. Alternatively, it can be made by adding water to almond butter. This product contains no lactose as it is dairy-free, so is perfect for vegans and those who are lactose-intolerant.  

Testosterone is one of our body's hormones. It is commonly associated with males, as it is produced in the testicles, and provides secondary sexual characteristics in men. It is important for healthy development, our muscles and reproduction. A low testosterone level - known as hypogonadism - is a condition which can occur in men and limits the effects that testosterone would normally produce.

As almond milk is not a dairy product, it might interact with our bodies differently. One way it may interact is by lowering our testosterone. This article will provide an understanding of testosterone and what effects almond milk might have on testosterone. 

About Testosterone

Testosterone is classified as an anabolic steroid hormone. It is synthesised from cholesterol in the gonads (testes) in males and is converted to inactive metabolites in the liver. It exerts its effects by binding to androgen receptors in tissues causing a chemical cascade in cells. These effects can occur at any stage in life. However, testosterone is essential during puberty to produce secondary sexual characteristics. 

Role of Testosterone

Its roles can be broadly divided into anabolic (promotion of cell growth) and androgenic (male characteristic) effects. However, testosterone can also be defined according to the stage of life of an individual. For this article, we shall explore the roles of testosterone before birth, after birth, during puberty, and in adulthood.

Before birth, testosterone exerts two stages of effects. In the first stage, during weeks 4-6 of birth, testosterone develops some key sexual characteristics regardless of gender. In the second stage, during the second trimester, it promotes sex formation. 

After birth, testosterone levels rise significantly but it is not known why. By months 4-7 of infancy, testosterone levels drop to barely detectable levels. It is hypothesised that during this period of high testosterone levels, there is a vascularisation of the brain. This is because there is no other detectable change in the body due to this sudden spike. After some years, the levels will rise again before reaching puberty.

During puberty, secondary sexual characteristics in men are produced. These involve muscle growth, growth of pubic hair, male facial features and fertility. A similar process occurs in women through the use of oestrogen. However, male characteristics can occur in women if there are prolonged high levels of testosterone. After puberty, the levels of testosterone remain relatively high but do decline as we age.

During adulthood, testosterone is key for some processes. Reproduction in males is promoted by testosterone - this is because sperm production requires testosterone. Certain genes are activated by testosterone that allows sperm to be produced. Testosterone is also involved in the HPA axis and platelet aggregation in males. 

These roles of testosterone highlight how necessary the steroid is, especially for males. These effects contribute to a healthy body and are vital for the development of secondary sexual characteristics. But what are healthy testosterone levels? 

What are Healthy Testosterone Levels?

To diagnose and classify low testosterone levels, we must first know what the normal circulating levels of testosterone are. One study assessed 100 non-obese participants in four cohorts across North America and Europe - the range that was found to be normal was 264 ng/dL to 916 ng/dL.1 If an individual’s circulating levels drop below the minimum value of this range, they may be considered to have low testosterone levels. This is a condition of hypogonadism and can have some consequences for an individual.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone

The symptoms of low testosterone depend on the age at which it occurs. In general, hypogonadism prevents the development and roles of testosterone in normal life from occurring. The first point at which symptoms can occur is before birth.

Before birth, if a baby is genetically male but there are low testosterone levels, this can impair the growth of sex organs. This underdevelopment can affect the male infant in 3 different ways: born with female genitals; genitals that are neither male nor female; or underdeveloped male genitals. 

If low testosterone levels occur during puberty, there may be additional consequences. Normally during puberty, there is a development of secondary sex characteristics. If there is a low testosterone level then this development can be impaired. It can also cause a lengthening of the limbs in relation to the body or the development of breast tissue. However, secondary sex characteristics can also be affected in later life by low testosterone.

During adulthood, some initial symptoms can occur - decreased sex drive, decreased energy, and depression. If low testosterone levels persist, it can affect the masculine features produced during puberty. This can include a decrease in muscle mass and can also cause osteoporosis. Commonly, there is decreased testosterone due to ageing but other agents may affect testosterone.

Does almond milk lower testosterone?

Before we examine whether almond milk affects testosterone, it should be noted that a search in the literature returns zero studies that investigate almond milk and testosterone specifically. Therefore, any effects that this article may talk about should be taken with a pinch of salt as there is no direct evidence for this effect.

Almond milk contains vitamin D, and there have been various studies which document an increase in testosterone with increased vitamin D intake. One study in 2011 observed a significant increase in total testosterone levels, bioactive testosterone and free testosterone levels when individuals took a vitamin D supplement.2,3 This shows that vitamin D supplements can be a treatment for low testosterone. Almond milk could be a source of this vitamin D so it might increase testosterone levels. 

Impact of dairy and dairy alternatives on testosterone 

There are no studies examining the relationship between dairy and testosterone. The majority of the literature focuses on the association between milk hormones and cancer. There is, however, a study examining the effects of oestrogen in milk on the hormone levels in mice's blood.3 This demonstrated that mice's testosterone levels decreased. Similar effects may exist in humans. Other dairy substitutes may affect testosterone, but this will not be due to oestrogen. Nuts and oats do not produce hormones as animals do. Therefore, it is unlikely that they would have a similar effect on testosterone as milk.

Food products that may lower testosterone

Besides dairy, other foods may also lower testosterone levels. Alcohol and cannabis are known to have negative effects on reproductive symptoms and testosterone.4,5,6 Additionally, foods that are high in trans fats have also been reported to decrease testosterone levels.7 In addition, other foods like soy or vegetable oils have been reported to decrease testosterone, but this link is tenuous at best.

How to boost testosterone

There are several ways to boost testosterone. The most obvious way is to take testosterone pills. This will increase your circulating testosterone and return levels to normal, and is a common treatment for the ageing individual or anyone else with low testosterone levels. However, there are lifestyle options which you can take to increase your testosterone.

Foods that boost testosterone

Several foods have been reported to boost testosterone. These are mainly foods that are high in magnesium, such as leafy greens and nuts. This is thought to be because magnesium reduces oxidative stress, allowing a higher level of testosterone.8 

Lifestyle factors

There are also a variety of lifestyle factors that could increase testosterone levels. Like in most cases, an increase in physical activity and exercise will increase testosterone levels.9 Another suggestion may be getting a good night's sleep.


Testosterone is an important part of our physiological functioning and vital for the development of secondary sex characteristics. In some individuals, testosterone levels can drop, causing a condition known as hypogonadism. This can be due to ageing but there may be other causes. One of these is alcohol and the hormones in milk. However, almond milk is unlikely to cause a lowering of testosterone, and due to the presence of vitamin D may increase testosterone.  If you do suffer from low testosterone it is important to take measures to boost it.

Reference list:

  1. Travison TG, Vesper HW, Orwoll E, Wu F, Kaufman JM, Wang Y, et al. Harmonized Reference Ranges for Circulating Testosterone Levels in Men of Four Cohort Studies in the United States and Europe. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2017;102(4):1161-73.
  2. Lerchbaum E, Trummer C, Theiler-Schwetz V, Kollmann M, Wolfler M, Heijboer AC, et al. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on androgens in men with low testosterone levels: a randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Nutrition. 2019;58(8):3135-46.
  3. Sim MY, Kim SH, Kim KM. Seasonal Variations and Correlations between Vitamin D and Total Testosterone Levels. Korean Journal of Family Medicine. 2017;38(5):270-5.
  4. Haugvad A, Haugvad L, Hamarsland H, Paulsen G. Ethanol Does Not Delay Muscle Recovery but Decreases Testosterone/Cortisol Ratio. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2014;46(11):2175-83.
  5. Sierksma A, Sarkola T, Eriksson CJP, van der Gaag MS, Grobbee DE, Hendriks HFJ. Effect of moderate alcohol consumption on plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, testosterone, and estradiol levels in middle-aged men and postmenopausal women: A diet-controlled intervention study. Alcoholism-Clinical and Experimental Research. 2004;28(5):780-5.
  6. Hsiao P, Clavijo RI. Adverse Effects of Cannabis on Male Reproduction. European Urology Focus. 2018;4(3):324-8.
  7. Chavarro JE, Minguez-Alarcon L, Mendiola J, Cutillas-Tolin A, Lopez-Espin JJ, Torres-Cantero AM. Trans fatty acid intake is inversely related to total sperm count in young healthy men. Human Reproduction. 2014;29(3):429-40.
  8. 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. 2014;2014.9.
  9. Kumagai H, Zempo-Miyaki A, Yoshikawa T, Tsujimoto T, Tanaka K, Maeda S. Increased physical activity has a greater effect than reduced energy intake on lifestyle modification-induced increases in testosterone. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. 2016;58(1):84-9.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Miles Peter Bremridge

Masters of Science - MSc Neuroscience Student and Neurosoc Chair, The University of Manchester, England

Miles Bremridge is a MSc Neuroscience Student who is working as a Neurosoc UoM Social Secretary at The University of Manchester. He is also an experienced Medical Writer.

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