“Low T,” a term popularized by commercial tv, has become one of the most successful modern ad campaigns for men’s health. If you believe those “Low T” commercials, the inability to produce sufficient levels of testosterone (a condition also known as hypogonadism—or, in the case of lower production related to natural male aging, as andropause) is likely responsible for a number of men’s present-day health woes, with decreased energy and suboptimal libido among the most advertised.
Research focus around testosterone is gradually moving beyond just energy and libido alone. According to those specializing in the men’s dietary supplements market, attention around testosterone support may be slowly—slowly—extending to the role that healthy testosterone levels play in areas less sensational, but nevertheless extremely important, to male health overall.
Paul Clayton, PhD, chief scientific advisor to ingredients firm Gencor (Irvine, CA), describes the evolving interest in testosterone support. “Interest in testosterone fell back a little after the initial articles (e.g., see TIME magazine’s “Manopause?!” cover from August 2014), but then stabilized and has recently seen an uptick due at least in part to the publication of various scientific articles showing that low testosterone is bad for men’s health in a variety of ways, and that returning testosterone in low-testosterone males to physiological levels does not cause adverse effects.” He continues, “Male performance is still interesting to a section of the market and likely always will be, but now we see a larger number of men who are more interested in improving their general well-being.”
And, increasingly, science continues to support the notion that testosterone does play an important role in general well-being. As Clayton says, “Testosterone exerts multiple effects on the body, and libido/anabolic effects (where the market started) are not necessarily the most important ones.”
Testosterone, for instance, is intrinsic to men’s bone health. In a recent International Journal of Endocrinology paper1 reviewing the link between testosterone deficiency and bone structure, researchers explained, “Testosterone has a clear, direct effect on bone health. Testosterone signaling stimulates osteoblasts to form trabecular bone and helps osteocytes prevent trabecular bone loss. This leads to the decreased [bone mineral density] and increased fracture risk seen in men with both primary and secondary hypogonadism.”
Testosterone is also increasingly being noted as important to heart health and brain health, Clayton says. It’s a theory supported by ongoing research2,3. “This trend is likely to increase,” he adds, “as recent work at the University of California, Los Angeles, has shown that restoring testosterone in middle-aged and elderly males is also neuro-protective and likely to find a role in protecting against dementia.”
Emerging markets like bone, brain, and heart health are certainly areas where dietary supplement companies will want to lay their bets in the future. For the present time, however, dietary supplement makers report still seeing most success in the market-proven categories of testosterone supplementation—namely, sexual health. Ahead, we take a look at some of the ingredients with new science in this area.
- Golds G et al., “Male hypogonadism and osteoporosis: the effects, clinical consequences, and treatment of testosterone deficiency in bone health,” International Journal of Endocrinology. Published online March 16, 2017.
- Traish AM et al., “Long-term testosterone therapy improves cardiometabolic function and reduces risk of cardiovascular disease in men with hypogonadism,” Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Published online January 1, 2017.
- Perfalk E et al., “Testosterone levels in healthy men correlate negatively with serotonin 4 receptor binding,” Psychoneuroendocrinology. Published online March 22, 2017.
- Rao A et al., “Testofen, a specialized Trigonella foenum-graecum seed extract reduces age-related symptoms of androgen decrease, increases testosterone levels and improves sexual function in healthy aging males in a double-blind randomized clinical study,” Aging Male, vol. 19, no. 2 (June 2016): 134-142
- Maheshwari A et al., “Efficacy of FurosapTM, a novel Trigonella foenum-graecum seed extract, in enhancing testosterone level and improving sperm profile in male volunteers,” International Journal of Medical Sciences. Published online January 10, 2017.
- Udani JK et al., “Effects of a proprietary freeze-dried water extract of Eurycoma longifolia (Physta) and Polygonum minus on sexual performance and well-being in men: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Published online January 12, 2014.
- Talbott SM et al., “Effect of tongkat ali on stress hormones and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 10, no. 1 (May 26, 2013): 28
- Starks MA et al., “The effects of phosphatidylserine on endocrine response to moderate intensity exercise,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Published online July 28, 2008.
- Rämson R et al., “Behavior of testosterone and cortisol during an intensity-controlled high-volume training period measured by a training task-specific test in men rowers,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 23, no. 2 (March 2009): 645-651
- Pandit S et al., “Clinical evaluation of purified shilajit on testosterone levels in healthy volunteers,” Andrologia, vol. 48, no. 5 (June 2016): 570-575
- Biswas TK et al., “Clinical evaluation of spermatogenic activity of processed shilajit in oligospermia,” Andrologia, vol. 42, no. 1 (February 2010): 48-56
- Das A et al., “The human skeletal muscle transcriptome in response to oral shilajit supplementation,” Journal of Medicinal Food, vol. 19, no. 7 (July 2016): 701-709