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Think You Have Low T? Read This Before Taking Any OTC Testosterone Supplements

Testosterone is key to a healthy hormonal balance for men and women, but especially men. Declining testosterone levels can have various adverse effects on your health, from receding hairlines to low sex drive, which is why many men are turning to testosterone supplement therapy. Are over-the-counter testosterone supplements safe? And do they actually work? We turned to a medical expert for advice, who helped clarify some things.

Dr. Darshan P. Patel, MD is an Assistant Professor of Urology at UC San Diego Health in La Jolla California. Over email, he explained that many OTC testosterone supplements are sold with unsubstantiated claims, and many aren’t going to help you restore balanced testosterone levels. Keep reading to hear his advice for men who think they’ve got low T, and the many safe, effective methods you can use to address it.

  

What is Testosterone? What is a Normal Testosterone Level in Men?

Let’s start with the basics. Testosterone is a hormone present in both men and women’s bodies. In men, it’s produced in the testes, in women the ovaries and adrenal cortex, and contributes to physiological factors like sex drive, bone and muscle mass, how men’s bodies store fat and even their mood. It’s a major driver of men’s physical, emotional and mental development, and low levels can definitely take a toll on one’s overall state of wellbeing.

Typically testosterone levels can be quantified with a blood test at a doctor’s office. There are also at-home medical test kits you can use to get a rough estimate of where you’re at. Most medical professionals agree that a “normal” T level is somewhere between 300 and 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL).

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Around 40% of men over the age of 45 will test below that range, and some may require supplement therapy.

  

Everlywell Testosterone Test

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Courtesy of Everlywell

  

What Causes Low Testosterone Levels?

Testosterone levels can fall due to a variety of causes. Stress, a lack of social connection, chronic disease and simply being an aging human can all take a toll on your testosterone levels. It is important to address the problem if you start feeling the effects of chronically low testosterone levels, both to ward off any resulting health effects and improve your quality of life.

  

What Are Some Signs of Low Testosterone in Men?

“Testosterone deficiency is a combination of having low levels of testosterone in the blood with associated symptoms,” said Dr. Patel.

He noted that “Many of the symptoms attributed to testosterone deficiency can be non-specific, but are broadly categorized as physical, cognitive and sexual signs and symptoms.”

Men and women both need testosterone to stay healthy (men need more), but unfortunately, average testosterone levels are declining. The culprit is most likely an increase in sedentary lifestyles at a desk, as well as unhealthy diets.

Dr. Patel noted the following physical, cognitive and sexual signs that may point to low testosterone levels in men:

  • Reduced energy
  • Reduced endurance
  • Reduced lean muscle mass
  • Obesity
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory
  • Depressed mood
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Reduced erectile function

Of course, many of these symptoms could be attributed to an underlying cause that isn’t low T, so we highly encourage you consult a physician before starting any new regimen, including testosterone supplement therapy. Low testosterone levels don’t immediately mean you should start supplemental hormone therapy, as the long-term side effects are unknown. Talking to a doctor is the only way you can conclusively determine your symptoms are due to low T and you should start taking supplements.

  

Do Testosterone Supplements Work?

Testosterone supplements is a catch-all category for any supplement you consume that’ll boost your testosterone levels beyond what your body is already naturally producing. Though the science is thin on over-the-counter supplements that claim to boost testosterone, Dr. Patel noted there are some OTC supplements that “with regular exercise can support a healthy, balanced diet for men with testosterone deficiency.”

He also noted, however, that using OTC supplements alone to treat testosterone deficiency is less effective, and that “Unfortunately, most OTC testosterone supplements make claims that are unsubstantiated. Nearly 90% of OTC testosterone supplements claim to ‘boost T’, 50% claim to ‘improve libido’ and 50% claim to ‘make you feel stronger.”

“Only a fraction of the various components of advertised OTC testosterone supplements have actually been tested in human studies and among those that have been, less than 25% of participants have reported an improvement in testosterone deficiency,” said Dr. Patel.

He also noted that some testosterone supplements can contain ingredients that are unsafe when mixed with other prescription medications. “For example, some OTC testosterone supplements containing Tribulus terrestris have been shown to contain steroidal glycoalkaloids that are toxic to animals and humans and cause severe liver and heart damage.”

  

What Should I Do If I Think I Have Low Testosterone?

First of all, you should talk to your doctor about it. Only a medical professional can diagnose you with a condition in need of treatment, and consult you on the best possible action to take.

Dr. Patel described the variety of treatments available nowadays for men suffering from low testosterone levels. “These prescription testosterone therapies use “bioidentical testosterone” or testosterone that is exactly the same composition as found naturally in your blood.”

“Over the last five years, we have added newer oral, nasal, topical, and long-acting formulations to the most common injection options that most men think of when they think of testosterone therapy. Although OTC testosterone supplements are available without a prescription, they can still negatively impact your health and wellbeing.”

Dr. Patel also cautioned against judging the viability and efficacy of a given supplement based on customer reviews. “Many men will decide on an OTC testosterone supplement based on customer reviews. Reviews are not clinical evidence. Reviews should be scrutinized due to predatory tactics by vendors, fake reviews from spammers, and paid reviews.”

  

If I Want to Use a Testosterone Supplement, What Should I Look For?

If you’re still interested in trying a testosterone supplement, we’ve included a few OTC options below. Dr. Patel advised that more is not always better when it comes to a dose or testosterone regimen, and that supplements should be used to do just that: supplement a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle.

“Always look at the nutritional label on the product. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has established tolerable upper limit (UL) to prevent side effects from excessive intake of vitamins and minerals. Often OTC supplements contain very high levels of certain ingredients that are above the UL. It is always best to inform your doctor prior to starting an OTC testosterone supplement.”

If you’re looking for trustworthy brands, Dr. Patel highlighted the following ones for their independent lab testing and certifications as well as solid manufacturing practices.

  • NatureMade
  • NOW Foods
  • Natrol

Based on this advice, here are the OTC testosterone supplements we recommend.

  

1. Nature Made Multivitamin For Him

Nature Made is one of the brands Dr. Patel recommended for the safety and efficacy of their supplements, and this men’s multivitamin is formulated to support men’s overall health and wellbeing. It contains 25 essential vitamins and minerals for men, as well as antioxidants and vitamin C for immune support.

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Courtesy of Amazon

  

2. Androsurge Estrogen Blocker for Men

This supplement from the Jacked Factory Store limits men’s bodies production of estrogen, with a scientifically-dosed, non-proprietary blend that contains ingredients like grape seed extract and diindolylmethane. It’s formulated to help you build back muscle, increase strength and boost overall energy levels.

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Courtesy of Amazon

  

3. Roman Testosterone Support Supplements

BEST SUPPLEMENT SUBSCRIPTION

Roman is one of the best telemedicine companies for men. If you’re looking for a regular supply of supplements to “support [your] own body’s natural function,” you might consider the Roman Testosterone Support supplements. Zinc, vitamin D3, ashwagandha and more all contribute in their own small ways to body health. Your results will vary, but Roman is an easy brand to start a healthy journey with and one you can trust and take at face value.

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Courtesy of Roman

  

4. Alpha JYM Testosterone Support

TRANSPARENT INGREDIENTS

This testosterone booster from JYM is a fully-loaded testosterone optimizer that contains ingredients for supporting and maximizing testosterone levels including fenugreek, ashwagandha and eurycoma. The ingredient list is comprehensive and transparent, so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body, and there’s no need to cycle in and out of taking it as it’s designed to be taken every day.

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Courtesy of Amazon

  

5. BulkSupplements D-Aspartic Acid Powder Supplement

BEST D-ASPARTIC ACID SUPPLEMENT

For a testosterone supplement based around D-aspartic acid, we like the BulkSupplements D-Aspartic Acid Powder Supplement. D-aspartic acid is a natural amino acid that’s directly linked to testosterone production via the production of luteinizing hormone, an essential ingredient to produce testosterone. D-aspartic acid also actually has some legit, if old, research to back it up. Throw about one tablespoon of the powder into a shake each morning before breakfast for best results.

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Courtesy of Amazon

  

6. Nature’s Bounty Zinc Caplets

BEST ZINC SUPPLEMENT

Zinc is an essential nutrient for the human body involved in hundreds of biological processes, including the formation of semen. While it is not known to directly boost testosterone, it is known to be important to general health and may indirectly improve any lack of energy or libido you’re experiencing. For straight zinc supplements, the Nature’s Bounty Zinc Caplets are the best. They’re chemically pure and highly rated by users.

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Courtesy of Amazon

  

7. NaturaLife Labs Organic Ashwagandha Powder and Root Extract Supplement

BEST ASHWAGANDHA SUPPLEMENT

Taking a page of Indian alternative medicine, you might consider the NaturaLife Labs Organic Ashwagandha Powder and Root Extract supplement. Proven claims of efficacy in terms of testosterone boosting are scant, but multiple users reported quality of life improvements such as better sleep, less anxiety and general feelings of improved body health. Though that might not be exactly what you’re looking for, if you’re struggling to pin down a specific problem or solution, this could be worth a trial.

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Courtesy of Amazon

  

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