Testosterone is a hormone produced by the male testes. During male puberty (ages 9 to 14 years), increased testosterone production will give rise to secondary sexual characteristics such as a deeper voice, increased muscle mass, facial hair growth, enlargement of the Adam's apple, and others. Some teenage boys go through the changes of puberty at an older age than others. Puberty is usually determined by genetics (through heredity), but other factors also play a role in delay, such as malnutrition, physical trauma, and certain diseases. Testosterone production in adolescent boys can be stimulated naturally although in rare cases hormone therapy may be required to trigger and complete the puberty stage.
Check out the When to Try? to find out when teenage boys need to consider natural remedies to increase testosterone levels.
Part 1 of 3: Stimulates Testosterone Production
Step 1. Lose weight if you are overweight
Several studies have pointed to a correlation between excess body weight (particularly obesity) and low testosterone levels in adult men and adolescent boys. It is known that weight loss in overweight men can stimulate a natural increase in testosterone production.
- For teenage boys, limiting refined sugars (such as refined sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup) is important for maintaining weight. Try to consume soda, donuts, cakes, bread, ice cream, and candy only on special occasions and in limited quantities.
- On the other hand, you should eat lots of fresh produce (fruit and vegetables), whole grains, fish, and low-fat dairy products. Replace sugary drinks with pure water and low-fat milk.
- Replace favorite foods with healthy choices. If you like pasta, choose whole grain pasta with horseradish puree. Make whole grain pizza with lots of vegetables and a little low-fat cheese. Or, make a healthier hamburger by using ground turkey or chicken instead of ground beef.
- Cardiovascular exercise is an important component of weight loss. Walking every night for 30–45 minutes is sufficient for significant weight loss when combined with proper eating.
Step 2. Do short periods of high-intensity exercise
Walking is great for weight loss, but high-intensity exercise (such as playing soccer, swimming, or lifting weights) can stimulate testosterone production directly. However, the key is how much time is spent exercising and its intensity. High-intensity exercise for a short period of time (especially lifting weights) has been shown to have a positive effect on increasing testosterone levels and preventing hormone depletion in adolescent boys and men. Therefore, do exercise in a relatively short time (no more than 30 minutes), and try to train the body as much and as safely as possible. Exercise for a long time (an hour or more) at a lower intensity can sometimes reduce testosterone levels in men/boys.
- As a general rule, the more muscle mass stimulated by exercise, the more testosterone is produced. Leg presses and squats (with weights) are very effective at triggering testosterone production due to the large number of muscle groups being stimulated.
- Other weightlifting exercises that are great for stimulating testosterone production are the bench press and deadlift.
- Boys' bones and soft tissues are still growing so intense weight lifting should be monitored by an experienced trainer.
Step 3. Try to get quality sleep on a regular basis
Lack of quality sleep can reduce the amount of testosterone produced by teenage boys or men, which in turn reduces muscle growth and gains fat. Research shows that sleep quantity is associated with morning testosterone levels. Specifically, men's morning testosterone levels increased with sleep duration. The recommended length of deep sleep is seven hours although the ideal for most teens is nine hours to feel refreshed.
- Avoid consuming stimulants (caffeine, alcohol) at least eight hours before bedtime. Caffeine increases brain activity and makes sleep difficult, and alcohol prevents restful sleep.
- Don't forget that caffeine is found in cola, energy drinks, coffee, red tea, and chocolate.
- Arrange for your bedroom to be comfortable, quiet, and dark to support quality sleep. Turn off the computer and/or TV before getting into bed.
Step 4. Do not avoid natural fats
Many people think that all fats are bad and should be avoided, especially by overweight teenagers. However, natural fats and cholesterol from animal sources (meat, eggs, dairy) are essential nutrients, particularly for the production of sex-related hormones such as testosterone. Consumption of saturated and unsaturated fats in moderation usually does not lead to weight gain because the cause of obesity is the excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates and artificial trans fats. In fact, some studies show that a low-fat diet reduces testosterone levels in men, as well as causing other growth and development problems. Research indicates that a diet with less than 40% fat energy can lead to decreased testosterone levels.
- Examples of healthy foods that contain high amounts of monounsaturated fat (vegetable sources) are almonds, walnuts, natural peanut butter, avocado, and olive oil.
- Examples of healthy foods with saturated fat (containing cholesterol) are lean red meat, seafood, egg yolks, cheese, coconut oil, and dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa.
- Remember that cholesterol is needed to produce testosterone. So, consult a doctor for healthy blood cholesterol levels as teenage boys may need more than the average amount during puberty.
Step 5. Reduce stress
Stress is common in the modern world, especially in teenagers who face a lot of pressure and expectations. High levels of stress trigger the release of the hormone cortisol, which tends to counteract the negative psychological effects of stress. While cortisol is beneficial, it also blocks the effects and effects of testosterone on the body, which can cause significant problems for teenage boys. Therefore, as a parent, try to provide a low-stress and stable environment for your son and give him a chance to let go of his frustrations and other emotions. Some ways to reduce stress are through exercise and fun hobbies.
- Don't be afraid to see a mental health professional if the stress is too high to handle. Techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy are effective for dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Popular stress-releasing exercises that people practice are meditation, taici, yoga, and breathing exercises.
Part 2 of 3: Providing Specific Nutrients
Step 1. Consume adequate amounts of zinc
Zinc is a mineral needed by the body, including immune function, bone strength, and testosterone production. In fact, low zinc levels are associated with lower testosterone levels in adult men and adolescent boys. Today, mild zinc deficiency is common enough that it is possible that you (especially if you are not used to healthy eating) are zinc deficient. Have your doctor do a blood test to find out, but in the meantime, eat foods rich in zinc, such as meat, fish, low-fat dairy, hard cheeses, nuts, and whole grains.
- Zinc supplementation for just six weeks has shown a significant increase in testosterone levels.
- The recommended intake of zinc for adolescent boys is 8–11 mg per day.
- Vegetarians have more difficulty meeting their zinc requirements so supplements are a potential solution for them. If you're a vegetarian, you'll need 50% more supplements than the recommended amount.
Step 2. Get plenty of vitamin D
Vitamin D is a nutrient that is very important in the production of testosterone. The role of vitamin D is more like a steroid hormone than a regular vitamin. There was one 2010 study that examined the relationship between vitamin D supplementation and testosterone levels in men, and found that men with higher levels of vitamin D also had higher levels of testosterone in their blood. Vitamin D is produced by the human skin in response to intense sunlight, but not being out of the house often leads to near-epidemic levels of deficiency among teenagers. In western countries, the problem of vitamin D deficiency is exacerbated by the lack of sunlight in winter.
- Vitamin D is not found in many foods, but some foods that are good sources are cod liver oil, fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products.
- If taking a vitamin D supplement, choose the D3 type as it is more effective and may be slightly safer.
- The recommended blood level of vitamin D is 50 to 70 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). Doctors can do blood tests to determine the status of vitamin D in your body.
- The recommended intake of vitamin D for adolescent boys is 600 IU/15 mcg per day.
Step 3. Consider a D-aspartic acid (DAA) supplement
DAA is an amino acid found in glandular tissue and is thought to increase testosterone-producing activity and affect other hormones in the body. A 2009 study found that men who received an additional 3,120 mg of DAA daily for 12 days experienced an average 42% increase in testosterone. These results suggest that DAA plays an important role in the regulation of testosterone release and synthesis in adult males and may also have a similar effect in adolescent males. Other forms of aspartic acid are produced by the body and are found in a variety of foods, but this is not the case with DAA.
- Among the few foods that are good sources of DAA are corn protein, casein, non-dairy cream, and soy protein. Therefore, it is difficult to meet DAA requirements from food alone.
- It is interesting to note that DAA supplementation may increase testosterone production in relatively inactive men, and may actually reduce its production in highly active men (such as bodybuilders and professional athletes).
- Consult a doctor before giving teenage boys any supplements that have an impact on testosterone levels, especially since there are currently not many studies on the use of DAA in humans.
Part 3 of 3: When to Try?
Step 1. Try diet and exercise changes if health permits
Losing weight, eating healthy, and exercising are natural ways to increase testosterone as well as overall health. While mild to moderate changes are safe for most teens, you should consult your doctor before making any significant changes to make sure they are appropriate for your health needs.
- If you're not used to exercising, your doctor may suggest starting with moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise, such as walking. Continue moderate-intensity exercise until your body adjusts to a new routine before starting high-intensity or strength training.
- When continuing with high-intensity or strength training, make sure that someone (such as a trainer) demonstrates the correct technique to reduce the risk of injury.
- Before starting an exercise routine, even of moderate intensity, you should check with your doctor whether you are at risk for heart disease, lung disease (including asthma), diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis, or cancer. Also check if you are overweight.
- If you feel dizzy, short of breath, or feel abnormally sick when you do a new type of exercise, stop the new routine and talk to your doctor.
Step 2. Add nutrients in the form of supplements if your intake is low
Insufficient intake of zinc and vitamin D contributes to low testosterone levels in adolescent boys. So, increasing intake through diet or supplements can also increase testosterone. If your intake of zinc and/or vitamin D is normal, be careful before you take supplements.
- Adding zinc and vitamin D through the diet is safer than supplements, and the body will be better able to absorb the nutrients when ingested through food.
If you are taking supplements, always follow the recommended amount and be careful not to exceed the limit.
- The recommended amount of zinc intake for boys aged 9-13 years is 8 mg daily, while ages 14-19 years is up to 11 mg daily. The highest tolerable intake for boys 9-13 years is 23 mg while for ages 14-18 years is 34 mg. Intake in excess of that limit will be toxic.
- For vitamin D, the recommended amount for adolescent boys is 600 IU/15 mcg per day. There are rarely cases of overdose of vitamin D because it is generally not toxic up to 50,000 IU per day, but in certain health conditions, the possibility of overdose is quite large.
Step 3. Use natural remedies after consulting a doctor
While natural remedies for low testosterone are safe for most teenage boys, you should still consult your doctor.
- Remember that puberty occurs at different ages and at different rates. So, no need to worry if your testosterone levels seem to be lower than your friends.
- If you're concerned, your doctor can do a blood test to determine if your testosterone is too low to abnormally high levels. Most doctors will consider natural methods when developing a treatment plan, but will also advise that medical treatment (such as testosterone therapy) would be preferable.
Step 4. Consider other options carefully
There are many herbal supplements that claim to increase testosterone, but they may be risky, especially as a teenager. Choose natural treatments that have been medically tested. If that doesn't work, ask your doctor again for instructions.
- Although DAA supplements are likely safe for most teenage boys, there are very few studies on the effects of DAA, particularly with regard to adolescents. You must get approval from your doctor before trying it.
- Avoid over-the-counter testosterone or steroid supplements. In addition, herbal supplements marketed to increase testosterone levels may not have medical support and are unsafe, especially for developing teens.
- If you are having problems with puberty and development, ask your doctor about measuring testosterone and other hormones via blood tests.
- A blood test is the only way to diagnose low testosterone levels or reduced testosterone availability.
- Abnormal testosterone levels can be a side effect of certain medications. So, ask your doctor about the effects of the drugs you are taking.
- Testosterone therapy (via injections, pills, patches, or gels) can help men and boys, but only with a doctor's supervision. Testosterone therapy is generally only used for specific medical conditions.