Optimizing your natural testosterone levels can be very beneficial.
Testosterone has a role in keeping your heart healthy, optimizing your body composition (less fat and more muscle), improved bone strength, higher mental aptitude, increased libido, and a better sense of well-being.
On the other side, low testosterone levels are associated with sexual dysfunction, lower energy, lower strength and endurance, sleep disturbances, and emotional changes.
So it’s obvious that you’d want to boost your testosterone levels, especially if it falls on the lower side.
While there are drugs and hormone replacement therapies that can boost testosterone, they tend to come with side effects.
That’s why boosting testosterone levels naturally with certain foods and supplements is such a hot topic.
Let’s look at what can be done to boost testosterone levels naturally!
Best Natural Testosterone Boosting Ingredients & Foods
Some of these compounds can be found in food and some require supplementation for optimal dosing.
Keep in mind that none of these will boost testosterone to supraphysiological levels. That means there is little risk for side effects but results won’t be astronomical for those with already healthy hormone levels.
Also, before investing your time and money into boosting your testosterone levels, it’s recommended to get blood work done to test your hormone levels currently.
Blindly shooting in the dark and taking multiple supplements while thinking you have low testosterone levels when you don’t will lead to wasted efforts.
Now, let’s check out the best testosterone boosting ingredients and their situational usages.
1. D-Aspartic Acid
D-Aspartic Acid, or DAA for short, is a common ingredient in popular testosterone boosters.
It’s not something that you’ll be ingesting in food in the right amount, so supplementation is necessary if this compound sounds interesting to you.
Studies have shown that DAA can temporarily boost testosterone levels in men with fertility issues and low testosterone to being with (1).
This makes it a promising ingredient for those with unhealthy testosterone levels already.
However, another study performed with athletes shows that DAA doesn’t boost testosterone at all, and can have the opposite effect (2).
It’s plausible to assume these athletes had higher than average testosterone levels already, given their lifestyle, and the DAA plays a role in balancing testosterone to normal ranges.
What does this mean for you? If you already have normal-to-high levels of testosterone, you shouldn’t be looking into using DAA.
However, if you suffer from low testosterone, DAA is a great place to start with supplementation.
Ashwagandha is a promising supplement in the adaptogen category. An adaptogen is simply a compound that can help the user ward off the adverse effects of stress, whether it be from physical or emotional sources.
Ashwagandha is effective under multiple circumstances, which isn’t very common for a natural testosterone booster.
One study noted an increase in testosterone in infertile men to a significant degree (3).
Another study shows particular promise for ashwagandha in those who have fertility and low testosterone issues due to stress (4).
But, what if you already have healthy levels of testosterone and want a boost?
Well, Ashwagandha had been shown to increase testosterone levels in men who already had normal levels to begin with when they paired it with a resistance training program (5).
This means that if you currently perform weight training and don’t have low hormone levels, you can still see a significant boost utilizing Ashwagandha.
Not many other compounds are versatile and effective, like Ashwagandha.
You can opt for pure Ashwagandha powder and add it to foods or shakes, or go with a standardized supplement, like KSM-66.
Fenugreek is one of the most common ingredients found in testosterone boosters.
However, this may only be due to the libido-enhancing properties from Fenugreek, since the research doesn’t show much optimism for raising testosterone.
One study in healthy men who underwent a resistance training program did note an increase in testosterone levels (6).
So, should you use Fenugreek for boosting your testosterone levels? There are plenty of better options on this list.
However, if you solely want a libido boost, Fenugreek supplementation may be a right choice.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is harnessed from the sun and found in many other foods, like fatty fish, egg yolks, and dairy.
Even so, Vitamin D happens to be the most common micronutrient deficiency. If you aren’t deficient, you still might not have optimal Vitamin D levels necessary for the testosterone support that it offers.
Higher levels of Vitamin D are correlated with higher levels of testosterone, even if the individual has testosterone-reducing factors in their daily life, like smoking, drinking alcohol, and certain medications (9).
If you currently have low levels of testosterone, Vitamin D also can correct this, as shown in research (10).
Vitamin D also has a ton of other health-promoting benefits when intake is optimized. Absorption can be boosted through thoughtful food consumption and/or a supplement.
Ginger is a staple in many diets. However, most do not know that Ginger may help boost testosterone levels with the right dosage.
While a huge chunk of the research with Ginger and hormones is done in rats, there is one study that notes and increase in infertile men (11).
We can sit here all day and debate about whether or not that Ginger is efficacious in humans as it is in rats, but the truth still isn’t clear.
The dosage required for Ginger to boost testosterone in humans is extrapolated from rat studies and requires about 14g per day.
Whether or not you’d like to consume that through food sources or a supplement makes no difference.
The preliminary data looks promising for Ginger, but it doesn’t seem to be the best choice on this list at this time.
DHEA is one of the most interesting compounds on this list. It is a hormone that is found naturally in the body, with exogenous consumption leading to more of the same of what it already does in your body.
DHEA can aromatize. What this means is that once it enters the body, it doesn’t automatically turn into more testosterone. Instead, it also can convert in estrogenic compounds.
In essence, DHEA can boost testosterone levels if the user is currently low. However, those with naturally higher levels of testosterone may raise their estrogen levels when using DHEA.
If you have low testosterone levels right now, DHEA may be a good option.
Alternatively, you can use DHEA as a way to ward off the temporary drop in testosterone common from some forms of exercise, like HIIT, even if you don’t currently have low testosterone (12).
What you have to understand is DHEA is a naturally occurring hormone, but it’s still a hormone. It can cause unwanted side effects in some users.
If you are interested in DHEA, blood testing is recommended to find out your current hormonal levels and see whether or not DHEA is a right choice.
Otherwise, it’s much safer to go with other efficacious compounds, like Ashwagandha.
Boron is a micronutrient found in various foods, like Avocados, Parsley, and Apple Juice. While deficiency isn’t common, it can be a limiting factor in natural testosterone production.
That means that righting any deficiency is crucial. However, if you aren’t deficient, Boron produces mixed results in boosting hormone levels.
Adding into the confusion, Boron has a Recommended Daily Intake, but it isn’t considered an essential mineral, like Iron or Calcium.
Interestingly, there is data that shows Boron can help mitigate the testosterone-lowering effect of low levels of Magnesium, meaning they probably act on the same pathway in the body (15).
What does the data show us? Boron may be useful in normalizing testosterone levels in those with low levels to start with.
However, the relationship with Magnesium found in one study leads to the question: are the benefits of Boron for testosterone support simply due to filling a gap from low Magnesium intake?
After all, Magnesium deficiencies are highly prevalent.
The answer is certain, but the efficacy of Boron for boosting testosterone isn’t astounding either way.
8. Panax Ginseng
Panax Ginseng is a common ingredient found in a multitude of supplements. There are a ton of ways that it can be useful.
Panax Ginseng can boost a user’s mood, immunity, and cognitive ability. Other useful properties make Panax Ginseng a staple in many supplement stacks.
However, boosting testosterone in those with normal testosterone levels simply isn’t one of them (16).
If you suffer from low testosterone levels or infertility, then Ginseng may be able to help get your hormone levels up to average (17).
This is similar to the testosterone boosting ingredients of many of the other compounds on this list. Very few help those with hormone levels already in a healthy range.
Instead, Ginseng, like many others, is only worth the investment if you currently suffer from low testosterone.
Zinc is a micronutrient commonly found in foods like meat, eggs, and beans. If you aren’t presently eating these products, you may be at risk for a Zinc deficiency.
Zinc is a limiting factor in testosterone production. This means that low levels of Zinc lead to low levels of testosterone, and healthy levels lead to healthy hormone levels. This is backed up by correlation data (18).
Zinc is involved in the process of converting cholesterol to hormones, so a lack of optimal Zinc levels limits the amount of hormones that can be produced in the body.
Luckily, a deficiency can easily be fixed with supplementation or optimal food intake and raise testosterone levels (19).
Magnesium is the 2nd most common micronutrient deficiency in modern countries, right behind Vitamin D. High quality food sources include nuts and leafy green vegetables.
If we are honest with ourselves, nuts and leafy greens don’t fall high on many people’s menus. This is why a deficiency can be so common.
While the effect of Magnesium on boosting testosterone levels isn’t prominent, it is effective (20).
Again, this may be due to fixing a deficiency and normalizing natural testosterone production, as seen with other compounds like Zinc and Boron.
If you ensure that you eat the right foods, supplementation isn’t necessary. However, if foods high in Magnesium aren’t your thing, a supplement is an easy fix.
The Final Word
Boosting testosterone naturally with foods and supplements tends to be hit-or-miss.
Some compounds, like Ashwagandha and DHEA, can be highly effective in the right circumstances, even if you already have normal levels of testosterone.
Others are useful to boost testosterone when it is limited from a deficiency, like Vitamin D, Boron, Zinc, and Magnesium.
Sometimes the fix for your testosterone levels can be as simple as eating better and taking a high-quality multivitamin/mineral complex.
D-Aspartic Acid and Panax Ginseng show promise for those with fertility or low testosterone levels currently.
While they won’t get you high levels naturally, they can normalize your hormone levels, which can still improve quality-of-life significantly.
Then there are compounds like Fenugreek and Ginger, which may show a little promise in limited research but lack the efficacy of the others.
These compounds tend to be of little use, primarily if you utilize different compounds found in this article.
It’s important to note that stacking some of these ingredients together isn’t backed by research at all, so it is uncertain whether or not cumulative effects can be seen with ingredient combinations.
What matters most for boosting your testosterone naturally is living a healthy, active lifestyle, eating right, and fixing any deficiencies that you might have.
Once you do that, there are a select few ingredients that are worth your time!