You probably know what kind of effect anabolic steroids have on your testosterone and recovery. They can increase testosterone many times over the normal level and equally speed up recovery, strength and muscle building. You probably heard about the side effects too. If your choice is to be a natural bodybuilder, without the side effects of steroids, there are a few alternatives that can help you increase testosterone and improve performance.
Obviously you won’t get the results that some get with steroids, but at least you’ll know you’re on the safe side, while you still build muscle and strength at a faster pace.
Vitamins and Minerals That Increase Testosterone Levels
Vitamins and minerals are required for sustaining optimal health, but few of them also have a positive effect on your anabolic hormone levels. These include: vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and Zinc.
Vitamin C – although it acts as an antioxidant and improves health and your immune system, vitamin c is responsible for the way pituitary gland reacts to hormone changes in the body, for formation of the basic steroid hormones in the adrenal gland, and control of the stress hormone – cortisol. Scientists have shown that large doses of vitamin C (1-3 grams), taken before an intense physical activity can lower the production of cortisol – the hormone that reduces testosterone levels and affects immune system negatively.
Some studies also show that not enough vitamin c can increase the levels of aromatase enzyme. This enzyme converts testosterone to estrogen in the body.
Vitamin A – has an important role in the production of testosterone. It crosses the blood-testis barrier in its alcohol form as retinol, where it is stored in the Sertoli cells and converted as needed to its more biologically active form, retinoic acid.
Studies have shown that greater vitamin A concentrations in the testes increase basal testosterone secretion and a variety of growth factors including IGF-binding protein 4 (which transports IGF), androgen-binding protein (which transports androgens), transforming growth factor-beta (which causes cell growth but suppresses cancer) and steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (which is responsible for the transport of cholesterol into the mitochondria for its conversion to steroids). Vitamin A also decreases estrogen production.
Vitamin B6 – important for many functions in the body, including testosterone production. By stimulating the androgen receptors in the body, vitamin B6 tells the testes to produce more testosterone.
Zinc – many minerals have influence on the process of anabolic hormones production, but zinc is probably the most important one. Studies with healthy men show that testosterone was increased up to 90 % when zinc was supplemented. Without adequate amounts of zinc, the testicular cells lose the ability to convert lipids, concentration of androgen receptors decrease and levels of aromatase in the liver are inhibited.
However, studies suggest that supplementation with zinc increases testosterone only if you are already deficient. Too much zinc can be toxic and disrupt the absorption of iron.
How to replenish zinc levels – there are two proven supplements that can get the job done, and of course, there are zinc rich foods :
– Zinc picolinate is a highly absorbable form of zinc that often comes in high doses.
– ZMA – a proven supplement that contains zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6.
Herbs that Increase Testosterone
Saw Palmetto is a plant that contains lipid and plant sterols, which are steroid like compounds. The plant is native to Florida and Georgia and it’s used as a remedy for enlarged prostate gland. Saw Palmetto works by inhibiting the enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydro-testosterone (DHT) and also blocks estrogen at its receptors. Studies show that it may not directly influence plasma testosterone levels, but rather reduce the negative effects of hormonal imbalance, such as acne, male pattern baldness and prostate enlargement.
Tribulus Terristis is known as a remedy for infertility.It may increase the production of lutenizing hormone (LH) in men. LH is secreted form the pituitary gland and transmits instructions directly to the testes to naturally increase the body’s own production of testosterone. A few studies have shown that 750mg of tribulus terestris taken on a daily basis, increased the free testosterone up to 41% in healthy young men.
The herb Fenugreek is native to southern Europe and western Asia, and it is a herb similar to Tribulus Terrestris. One study on 30 young males indicated that 500 mg of Fenugreek increased total and free testosterone by 7% and 12%, respectively. This isn’t a big increase, but it also seems that Fenugreek inhibits the conversion of testosterone to DHT and estrogen.
While you can take all these supplements separately, a more practical solution would be a natural testosterone booster that contains a mix of all the test-increasing substances. The thing you need to watch for is the nutrition label on the back and the quantities of the components in the supplement.