4 Best Testosterone Boosting Supplements with Clinical Proof

March 4, 2015 by in category sexual health with 0 and 0
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Testosterone is the principal male sex hormone. In men, it plays an important role in the development of reproductive tissues like the prostate and testis.

It also promotes secondary sexual characteristics such as sexual stamina, deeper voice, aggressive behavior, growth of body hair and increased muscle.

testosterone effectsTestosterone is present in 2 forms in the body:

One type is the testosterone which is bound to either Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) or to albumin. Both of these are types of proteins which are present in our body. This type of testosterone i.e. the bound form is like a storehouse of testosterone which is used as and when required.

The second type of testosterone is the “free testosterone” which is not bound to anything but moves freely in the body. This “free testosterone” is the one which is readily available for various functions of the body.

Due to the ready availability of free testosterone, it is believed that a measurement of free testosterone is a better indicator of the various effects of testosterone than “total testosterone”.

Generally when you get a hormone test done, you will get to know the level of “total testosterone”. However, a high value of “total testosterone” may not mean that you have good amount of “free testosterone” – the one that is readily available. This is because, out of total amount of testosterone in the body of males, only 1-4% is “free testosterone” while the rest of it if the bound form.

Like most things, Testosterone in men declines with age – look at the figure below to understand the expected average decline.

decline of testosterone with age

Supplements with Proven Benefits

Testosterone enhancing supplements with compelling evidences are not common, with a lot of hyped up supplements that actually do little. Lets have a look at some good ones with proper clinical proof.


DHEADehydroepiandrosterone is a hormone present in the human body. It has very little biological effect by itself but plays an important role in the making of sex hormones such as testosterone and oestradiol. Presence of these sex hormones in normal amounts is important for healthy sexual function.

Thus, supplementation with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is believed to increase free testosterone as well as total testosterone levels in the body. Scientific studies showing this are discussed here.

DHEA supplements can be made from wild yams or soy. It is commercially available in tablet form. Recommended dosage of DHEA ranges between 20 and 200 milligrams per day for a period of 1 year.

However, the recommended dose for each individual is different and widely depends on age, sex, pre-existing medical conditions and ongoing medications. DHEA supplements are known to interfere with certain medicines such as:

  • Blood thinners (medicines taken by people who have poor blood flow to brain and certain other heart problems)
  • Anticonvulsants (medicines used to treat seizures or fits and bipolar disorders)
  • Hormone therapy drugs
  • Drugs taken for managing diabetes, heart problems and liver problems

It is thus extremely important to consult a health care professional before starting this supplement as they can guide you regarding the best dose and schedule for supplementation.

DHEA supplementation is known to cause side effects. The common ones are:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Men might grow more breast tissue causing the appearance of breasts, high blood pressure etc.

Because of the fact that DHEA is a powerful hormone, it is not recommended for children. DHEA supplementation is also known to increase the risk of some cancers which are affected by hormones such as prostate.

Clinical Proof #1

Weiss and fellow scientist gave dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation to 55 men and 58 women in 65-75 years age group and observed if their testosterone levels changed after supplementation.

In the first year of the trial, these men and women who had participated in the trial were divided into 2 groups.

  1. Group 1 was given 50 mg/day DHEA supplementation
  2. Group 2 was given placebo (substance similar to original supplementation product i.e. DHEA which did not have properties of DHEA)

In addition to DHEA supplement or placebo, all study participants (of both groups) were given 16 micro gram per day Vitamin D and 700 mg per day Calcium supplements.

During the second year of the trial, all participants i.e. both groups were given 50 mg/day DHEA supplementation.

The researchers did blood tests of all the trial participants once before and once after supplementation to compare the difference (if any) in their testosterone levels.

Result highlights:

  • At the end of first year, the total testosterone increased by about 17% in the men who were given DHEA supplementation during first year.
  • Total Testosterone of placebo group also increased but not as much as the group which was given DHEA supplementation.
  • The free testosterone index also increased in the DHEA group but remained unchanged in the placebo group.
  • The concentrations of total testosterone as well as free testosterone approximately doubled in women in the DHEA group and did not change in the placebo group.

DHEA supplementation seems effective in increasing levels of free as well as total testosterone in men and women.

Clinical Proof #2

Another research done to know effect of DHEA supplementation included middle-aged and young men who did high-intensity interval training (a type of physical training where low intensity to high intensity exercises are performed with breaks in between). This type of exercise is believed to improve cardiovascular fitness.

It is known that testosterone levels start reducing after about 35 years of age. Also, this reduction is more rapid for free testosterone levels compared to total testosterone. This reduction is thought to be reason behind physical and mental weakness which occurs with ageing.

Additionally, vigorous training also contributes to this lowering of testosterone levels. This research was thus done by Liu and co-researchers, keeping in mind the above facts. The aim of this research trial was to see if giving DHEA supplementation improved free testosterone levels among these men during the rest period of interval training.

This study involved 8 middle-aged men whose average age was 49 years and 8 young men whose average age was 21 years. These men were selected at random i.e. the researchers had no say in which men were to be involved in the study.

Firstly, one group was given the actual supplementation (DHEA 50 mg) and another group was given placebo (substance which is similar to DHEA but does not have the properties of DHEA i.e. effects which DHEA has on human beings). This was given on a night before the training session.

On another occasion, reverse of this was done. The group which had earlier been given DHEA was now given placebo and vice versa.

This was a double-blind study i.e. neither researchers nor participants of the trial were aware at which point they were getting placebo and when they were getting real supplement.

Researchers observed that middle-aged men had significantly lower free testosterone levels than younger group. Result highlights in the group that was given DHEA supplementation:

  • Increase in free testosterone levels among middle aged men.
  • No significant improvement in total testosterone levels among them.

During 24 hours period after high intensity interval training:

  • Total testosterone levels dropped substantially in both age groups.
  • Free Testosterone levels remained constant in middle aged men who had been given DHEA supplementation.

Giving oral DHEA supplementation to middle-aged men can increase their free testosterone levels and also prevent fall in these levels during high intensity interval training. DHEA supplementation may thus enable middle-aged men to take up or continue high intensity interval training without any resultant physical or mental weakness.


Zinc is an important mineral which is found in each and every cell in our body and plays a variety of roles in keeping us healthy. It plays an important role in maintaining healthy sexual function among human beings mainly by:

  • Maintaining ideal levels of hormones in our body
  • Normal testosterone levels

zinc supplementZinc is not produced by our body. So the only source of Zinc is our diet or via supplements (which are generally given in case of zinc deficiency).

In addition to a host of other problems, zinc deficiency is believed to cause infertility in both men and women.

Contrary to popular belief, the deficiency of this mineral is present not only in malnourished poor people of under developed or developing countries but is very common in developed countries like USA and the UK where food security is not an issue.

The best way to avoid Zinc deficiency is to make sure that your diet rich in zinc like meat, seafood(especially oysters), milk and milk products

Vegetarians, particularly vegans (those vegetarians who do not consume milk or milk products) are at a high risk of zinc deficiency. People on certain medications, women taking hormonal or birth control pills, alcoholics are also at high risk of zinc deficiency.

The Office of Dietary Supplements from the National Institutes of Health says that zinc may be present in various forms in supplements. Some of the common forms are gluconate, sulfate and acetate. The amount of actual zinc (also known as elemental zinc) is different in each of these forms.

For example, zinc sulfate has about 23% elemental zinc content which means that there is 50 mg of actual zinc in 220 mg of zinc sulfate. Whenever you buy or check out a zinc supplement, you will be able to know the actual (elemental) zinc content in that particular supplement by looking at the Supplement Facts panel which is printed on the supplement bottle or pack.

Zinc supplements are available as tablets and capsules. Some lozenges which contain zinc are also labelled as ‘zinc supplements’. Scientists are not sure whether one form of zinc is better than the other in terms of absorption and usability in the body.

Studies showing beneficial effects of zinc supplementation on testosterone levels of men are discussed below:

Clinical Proof #1

Kilic and team of researchers conducted a clinical trial on 10 male wrestlers in 2006 by giving them zinc supplementation and then comparing their testosterone levels before and after exhaustive exercise to know if zinc supplementation was helpful in maintaining normal testosterone levels among these men even during exhaustive exercises.

The average age of all the wrestlers who participated in the trial was 18 years and all of them were licensed wrestlers since 6 years. They were given Zinc Sulfate supplementation (3 mg/kg of body weight/day) for 4 weeks. They continued to have their normal diet during this time.

Free testosterone and Total testosterone levels of all these men during “resting” and “exhaustion” phases were measured before and after zinc supplementation.

Before zinc supplementation: Resting levels of free testosterone and total testosterone were higher than those after exhaustion exercise.

After supplementation: Levels of free testosterone and total testosterone, both resting and exhaustion were higher after zinc supplementation compared to before.

Exhaustion exercise leads to significant drop in testosterone levels (both free and total). However, 4 week supplementation of Zinc Sulfate seems to prevent this decrease in wrestlers. Thus, zinc supplementation can be thought of as a performance booster.

Clinical Proof #2

Effect of zinc supplementation on sedentary men (men who do not do any regular physical activity) has also been studied. Kilic conducted this research study on 10 such sedentary men whose average age was 19 years.

These men were given Zinc Sulfate (3 mg/kg of body weight/day) for 4 weeks and their testosterone levels were measured, at rest and after bicycle exercise, before and after zinc supplementation.

Before supplementation: Total and free testosterone levels decreased after exercise compared to resting level.

After supplementation: Both total and free testosterone levels were higher after 4 weeks of supplementation compared to before.

Exercise reduced testosterone levels among sedentary men but zinc supplementation prevents this decrease. Thus, it can be said that zinc supplementation is a potent performance booster.


Boron is a mineral that is found in food and is important for a variety of body functions such as regulation of hormones, keeping bones healthy, reducing symptoms of menopause and increasing testosterone.

boronHence, it is important to eat food that has adequate boron. Foods which provide a lot of boron are honey, nuts like almonds and walnuts, potato, avocado, onion, beans, carrot, broccoli, fruits like oranges, red apples, red grapes, prunes, pear, banana etc.

Past research has shown that acute (hourly or daily) supplementation with 11.6 mg of boron significantly increases the level of boron in the body. Keeping this in mind, researchers thought about conducting a study to know if this rapid increase in boron levels of body would be helpful in increasing testosterone levels in turn.

The results of this study are promising and give scientific evidence for usefulness of boron supplementation in improving testosterone levels among men. This study has been explained below.

Clinical Proof

Naghii and a fellow scientist did this research in 2011 with the aim of finding out if boron supplementation did in fact increase testosterone levels among men. Eight healthy men participated in the study.

On Day 1 of the study, the blood sample of these men was taken in the morning after which they were given placebo (substance which is similar to actual supplement but does not have the biological effect of the supplement) with breakfast.

On Day 2, the men were given 10 mg boron supplementation with breakfast.

On both days, their blood samples were taken every 2 hours for the next 6 hours.

The participants of the study were asked to take 1 capsule of 10 mg boron every day with their breakfast.

On Day 8, blood samples were collected again in the morning.

Result highlights:

  • Levels of boron in the body increased substantially.
  • cortisol, dihydrotestosterone and vitamin D levels were elevated.
  • Average free testosterone levels of the body increased significantly.

Boron supplementation seems very effective in increasing free testosterone levels in men.


calciumCalcium is an essential mineral which is important for optimal bone health throughout our life. Our body does not inheerently produce any calcium, and so we need to get it via dietary sources.

Foods which are rich sources of calcium are:

  • Milk and milk products
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Fish like canned salmon and sardines which have soft, eatable bones
  • Foods which are fortified with Calcium (calcium is added additionally to improve the calcium content of that food). Examples are certain beverages, cereals soy products & fruit juices.

However, certain people, in spite of eating a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet end up with calcium deficiency. This might happen in the following people:

  • Vegans, since they avoid milk products.
  • Those having lactose intolerance i.e. those who cannot eat milk and milk products because they cannot digest them properly.
  • Those who consume large amounts of sodium or protein, that can cause calcium excretion
  • Those suffering from osteoporosis (disorder due to weak bones)
  • Those taking certain medications
  • Those having some digestive diseases like as inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease which decrease the ability to absorb calcium

In such situations, calcium supplements can help maintain optimum calcium levels.

Calcium supplements are available in several different forms. Each form has different amounts of actual calcium mineral (also known as elemental calcium).

Common calcium supplements and their actual calcium content:

Clinical Proof

A researcher named Cinar, along with co-researchers did a study to see if calcium supplementation was helpful in increasing testosterone levels among athletes when they are exhausted after exercise and when they are at rest.

30 healthy male athletes were enrolled in the research study and divided equally into 3 treatment groups.

  1. Group 1 had 10 who were not exercising. They were given 35 mg calcium per kg of body weight.
  2. Group 2 had 10 men who were undergoing physical training for 90 min every day, 5 days a week. They were given 35 mg calcium per kg of body weight.
  3. Group 3 had 10 10 men who were undergoing physical training for 90 min every day, 5 days a week. They were not given any supplementation.

Their free testosterone as well as total testosterone levels were checked before and after supplementation to know difference in them.

Results showed that:

  • Physical exercise increased levels of both free and total testosterone in these men.
  • The testosterone increase was greater in men who were given calcium supplementation.

Giving calcium supplementation for 4 weeks to healthy male athletes seems effective in increasing their free testosterone and total testosterone levels.

Popular Supplements with no clinically proven benefits


Velvet Antler

Velvet Antler refers to the antlers of deer, moose or elk which are used for medicinal purposes in traditional Chinese medicine. Supplement of velvet antler are available as dried powder as well as capsules. Though it is hyped as a performance enhancer known to improve sexual function, studies conducted to measure its effect on men’s sexual function showed no such results.

Nigella Sativa

The seeds of Nigella Sativa, commonly known as black seed or black cumin, are used in folk (herbal) medicine all over the world for the treatment and prevention of a number of diseases and conditions that include asthma, diarrhea and dyslipidemia.

Though traditional medicinal practices claim that Nigella Sativa seeds help in improving testosterone levels among men, no scientific evidence supporting this exists.