What is Testosterone?
Testosterone (T) is a steroid hormone released from the Leydig cells of your testes. It is a natural anabolic hormone made from cholesterol and it has both anabolic and androgenic effects as well as a strong influence on sexual characteristics.
- Anabolic – muscle mass, strength, endurance and stamina, bone mass
- Androgenic – voice deepness, jawline and body shape
- Sexual – sperm count, erection strength, body hair
How is Testosterone Regulated?
As puberty age approaches you get a surge in testosterone production. From there you enjoy high levels of the anabolic hormone until your early thirties, when production begins to slow down again.
The way that T is regualted is complex but understanding just the key points helps plan effective ways to keep your levels topped up as you enter later years.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis
It all starts with an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. This gland is like a master computer, keeping an eye on what’s happening in your body, from your big toe to your adrenal glands; and of course your testes.
When your hypothalamus realizes that testosterone levels are running lower than normal it releases a hormone called GnRH. This messenger hormone acts as the first point of a chain of communication.
GnRH makes it way south to the pituitary gland which is located just below the hypothalamus. It’s only a short journey but important in stimulating the pituitary to release its own hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH).
Once your pituitary gland has received its wake up call from the the hypothalamus, luteinizing hormone pulls up its socks, puts on its running shoes and makes its way through your body down to your testes. Luteinizing hormone is pretty much like the medieval messenger, delivering the wax-sealed scroll to the testes.
And from there, your Leydig cells use luteinizing hormone as a slap around the face – it uses the message from the pituitary gland to pump out testosterone into your bloodstream, ready to be taken up by your muscles and other tissues.
Total and free testosterone – what’s the difference?
When you have your T levels measured you’ll get two readings – free and total.
Total refers to all of the testosterone released into your blood. In post-puberty men a normal figure would be between 300-1000 ng.dL.
Free testosterone refers to the blood T that your body can actually use. They are different because some of the total T is bound to two proteins – one called SHBG and another called albumin.
When bound, this testosterone becomes unusable – it’s essentially imprisoned by these proteins and won’t let your body use it.
Normal free T levels vary by age but fall somewhere around 207-428 pmol.L.
Low Testosterone and its many side effects – from muscle mass to fat mass
As we’ve already suggested, once you hit your thirties your body doesn’t produce as much testosterone as it used to.
This is because there’s a slow reduction in luteinizing hormone production so your Leydig cells just don’t receive the stimulation that they’re used to.
Not only that – there’s an increase in SHBG levels, with the protein grabbing more free testosterone, therefore leaving less available for your tissues to use.
All-in-all your body just can’t produce the amount of androgens it used to. Your once magnificent androgen levels begin slowly but surely to slop away.
And with this comes a number of side effects.
- Loss of muscle and bone mass
- A rapid increase in belly fat and gynecomastia (man boobs)
- The risk of metabolic, cognitive and vascular disease goes up sharply
- Non-existent libido, sex drive and stamina
- Loss of energy and vigor
Hypogonadism – a clinical diagnosis
Once your T levels fall below 300 ng.dL you are clinically hypogonadal – you have low testosterone levels.
But you can fight back.
The thing about hormones is they act in a dynamic way. And this mean that you can mold, adapt and shift them around with just the right stimulus.
And that’s where a high-quality testosterone booster comes in
How Could a Testosterone Booster Benefit An Ageing Man?
Although you’re entering your wisest years, you don’t have to lay down and let ageing take over. You can fight back, hard.
Being active and eating well go a long way to preserving vitality, functional ability and even your physical conditioning.
But get your hormonal balance right and you’ll not only live longer; you’ll live better too.
Here’s how a testosterone booster can help.
Helps to keep body fat down – especially belly fat
One of the major killers is heart disease. And with the primary risk factors including obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol, it’s important that you do all you can to limit the risk.
A lack of testosterone will definitely lead to weight gain. If it’s not happened yet then you;re lucky – but it will come.
That’s because androgen hormones help to divert incoming calories into making new muscle cells, rather than being stored as fat. But as soon as the protector has its back turned, you’ll quickly begin to store more and more fat.
And it’s a two-way street as well. As you get fatter your T levels go down, and as your T levels decrease, you store more calories as fat.
It’s a downward spiral which is difficult to get out of.
Being overweight or obese can quickly be reversed by bringing androgen levels back to normal .
And you’ll specifically reduce belly fat too.
Belly fat contains the female hormone estrogen. And estrogen is especially good at grabbing testosterone from your bloodstream and converting it into even more estrogen via a pathway called aromatization.
But elevate your testosterone levels and you’ll quickly block estrogen, leading to rapid reductions in belly fat and the re-emergence of those rippling abs you had in your twenties.
Builds more muscle and strength
There isn’t a man alive that doesn’t want just a bit of muscle. Granted, you might not be interested in standing on stage at the Olympia, but just enough muscle to show the women your toned arms and broad shoulders is definitely high on your priorities.
Testosterone regulates protein synthesis – the act of making new muscle cells.
That means that the higher your natural hormone levels, the easier it is to grow athletic, functional muscle.
As you age you naturally lose muscle mass – a condition called sarcopenia. If not corrected, this can lead to:
- Loss of strength, mobility and functional independence
- Increased fatigue and loss of energy
- Elevated risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome
- Decreased bone mass and increased risk of osteoporosis
There are numerous studies that show supplementing with natural testosterone-boosters (and were talking about natural nutrient based products, not anabolic steroids) leads to significant muscle growth.
Nutrients such as vitamin D3, magnesium and zinc have all been shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis by ramping up T concentrations, as well as strength, endurance and power too .
Combine a testosterone booster with strength training and the results will be amazing.
Ramps up your libido and sex drive
As you age you;re much less likely to want to spend an evening between the sheets with your loved one.
But if you want to reclaim the vigor, drive and performance that you once had, a testosterone booster is the way forward.
Studies show that low T is directly related to desire, but bringing hormone concentrations back to normal leads to an increase in not only libido, arousal, erection strength, stamina and ‘number of pleasurable sexual episodes’ .
- Pellitero, S et al. Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in morbidly obese males is reversed after bariatric surgery. Obes Surg. 2012; 22(12): 1835-42
- Marantes, I et al. Is vitamin D a determinant of muscle mass and strength? J Bone Miner Res. 2011; 26(12): 2860-71
- Kent, A. Testosterone and sexual desire. Obestet Gynecol. 2009
Author: James Wilks
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