Here is a quick snapshot of the best natural testosterone boosters for men. I’m going to break them down into three categories: Foods, Vitamins/Minerals and Herbs.
They are not listed in any particular order within each category as each one provides a set of unique nutrients and testosterone boosting properties.
Best Testosterone Boosting Foods
1. Dark Chocolate (Cacao)
Dark chocolate is an amazing food for naturally boosting testosterone and is best consumed in its pure raw state as cacao nibs.
I personally add a handful to both my daily smoothies and oatmeal or quinoa for breakfast.
There is also a fantastic pure cacao powder and tofu pudding I like to occasionally whip up as odd as that may sound.
Just 3 tbsp of cacao is packed full of a huge array of nutrients and phytonutrients including but not limited to:
- Healthy Fats (Oleic Acid, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid)
- Fiber (3 g)
- Protein (4 g)
- Polyphenols (Flavonoids, Proanthocyanidins)
- Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, E)
- Minerals (Magnesium, calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, manganese)
Dark chocolate and its nutrient dense compounds have been credited with:
- Increasing Strength (study)
- Increased Bioavailability of Nitric Oxide (study)
- Elevated Mood (The Bliss Receptor)
- Improved Cardiovascular and Cholesterol Health (study)
- Improved Brain Function and Cerebral Blood Flow (study, study)
As a natural testosterone booster, dark chocolate is amazing but as you can see its health benefits are wide reaching and extremely beneficial for a high quality of life in general.
2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is one of the healthiest foods on the planet and is one of the cornerstones of the extremely popular and exceedingly healthy Mediterranean diet.
You do want to ensure you are buying the real stuff though. Look for pure, unrefined, unfiltered, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.
Preferably in a glass bottle as well, so it doesn’t absorb any chemicals that may leach into it from plastic containers.
EVOO works in multiple ways to boost testosterone.
- Increase Luteinizing hormone (LH) (study)
- Boosts T manufacturing enzymes 3-beta-HSD & 17-beta-HSD (study)
- Decreases Leydig Cell inflammation (study)
- Raises HDL / Lowers HDL (study, study)
Luteinizing hormone is released in the pituitary gland and controls the function of the testicles which produce testosterone from cholesterol.
In the study mentioned above, just 1.6 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil each day boosted LH by 42.6% and T levels by 17.4%!
EVOO also helps reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and raises HDL (good cholesterol). Since testosterone is manufactured from cholesterol, the better your overall cholesterol profile the better able you are to maximize your testosterone.
Everyone knows that mushrooms are incredibly healthy, provide a immunity boost and a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
What most people don’t know is that plain ole white button mushrooms actually come with an extra testosterone boosting kick!
Aromatase converts androgens (testosterone) into estrogen. Mushrooms being an aromatase inhibitor help prevent this conversion.
This effect isn’t just limited to white button mushrooms though. It’s also been shown in shiitake, portobello, crimini, and baby button mushrooms.
As an added bonus, mushrooms grown outside in natural sunlight can also be a good source of vitamin D and are one of just a handful of foods to provide such a benefit.
4. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and bok choy actually help the body excrete excess estrogen thereby increasing the amount of testosterone available.
Indole-3-carbinol (C9H9NO), also known more commonly as “I3C” is formed from a substance called glucobrassicin in cruciferous vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables also have another compound called Diindolylmethane (DIM) which is a precursor to I3C. (study)
With that said, DIM has become a very popular supplement in bodybuilding circles because it may be more stable when ingested in supplement form than I3C is.
However, I suggest you get both DIM and I3C from its natural form in cruciferous vegetables rather than via supplementation which has been shown to block DHT. (study)
DHT is highly androgenic and a strong estrogen block in its own right. (study)
Avocados are one of the best sources of fats for naturally boosting testosterone levels. They are chock full of potassium (which most diets don’t get anywhere close to what the body needs), B vitamins, vitamin E and 11 different carotenoids!
Fats have gotten an extremely bad wrap and somehow it has snuck into typical health lexicon that we should only be getting around 25 – 30% of our daily calories from fat.
This is inherently bad advice. What you should be concerned with is the type of fats you are consuming rather than trying to keep the percentage low.
In fact, I try to consume between 35 – 50% of my calories from fat every day! Why?
Fats helps you absorb vitamins A, D, E, and the important and often unmentioned vitamin K
Vitamin D (which we will discuss later in this article), E and K are all extremely important for maximizing your testosterone. It’s one thing to get the vitamins though and another for you to absorb them. Avocado’s can help maximize that absorption.
Your brain is about 60% fat and nutrition and fats play an important role in both development and function
Providing your brain with calories from healthy fats like avocados, encourages ketosis, providing energy to the brain while also helping to protect against brain diseases. (study)
Monounsaturated fats in particular (which avocados are loaded with) may enhance learning abilities, slow down age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. (article)
Avocados also have a fairly unique compound called oleuropein, Oleuropein is also found in olive oil and has been shown to increase testosterone in studies on rats. While I prefer to focus on human based studies, in this case it’s worth noting as a potential added benefit. (study)
Lastly and most important to the purpose of this article is the testosterone boosting effect of healthy fats. Multiple studies have shown that higher fat diets result in higher T levels.
In one study in particular, Finish researches placed 30 healthy male volunteers on a restricted fat diet. Traditionally, these men consumed about 40% of their daily calories from fat but the researches restricted them to 25% over a 6 week period.
The researchers discovered both total and free testosterone levels plummeted in the men while on a low fat diet but quickly returned to normal after resuming their typical high fat diets. (study)
In short, feed your body, feed your brain and feed your testosterone with avocados!
6. Beans and Lentils
When men think about testosterone we don’t usually think about beans and lentils! But these little nuggets of goodness provide a power packed punch for boosting testosterone.
In fact, they can do a lot more for you than just increase your testosterone. They can help with fat loss and building muscle too thanks to their high protein content.
Just check out the fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals you get from 1 cup of pinto beans as an example:
- Fiber – 62%
- Protein – 31%
- Vitamin B1 – 28%
- Vitamin B6 – 23%
- Copper – 41%
- Folate – 74%
- Iron – 20%
- Magnesium – 21%
- Manganese – 39%
- Molybdenum – 285%
- Phosphorus – 36%
- Potassium – 21%
Rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, phytonutrients and gluten free testosterone maximizing complex carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are extremely critical to high testosterone levels and multiple studies have shown diets high in complex carbohydrates results in decreased cortisol levels and significantly increased T levels. (study)
Diets rich in healthy carbohydrates can also lead to increased strength, better protein absorbtion and faster recovery after intense workouts. (study)
Pay special attention to the “better protein synthesis” part because as men, in part thanks to the over-commercialization of protein powders and drinks, we constantly worry about our protein needs rather than how well our body is actually utilizing the protein we are giving it.
Beans and lentils also help reduce inflammation in the body which is huge for boosting T.
A recent study on 22 healthy men showed that daily ingestion of pomegranate juice raised testosterone levels by 24% on average. (study)
This study also showed positive effects on blood pressure, mood and anxiety as well!
Pomegranates are absolutely loaded with antioxidants which can decrease inflammation. You have probably noticed a fairly common theme so far in that most of the foods mentioned in this article as testosterone boosters work to decrease inflammation.
It’s because inflammation can wreak absolutely havoc on our bodies ability to produce testosterone efficiently.
There is an extremely powerful antioxidant in pomegranates called “punicalagins” found in the juice and especially the peel of a pomegranate.
They are so powerful that pomegranate juice has been found to have three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea (study).
Pomegranates are also loaded with
- Vitamin C: 30% of the RDA.
- Vitamin K: 36% of the RDA.
- Folate: 16% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 12% of the RDA.
One important note here is that pomegranates are also loaded with sugar so while the juice may be an easy way to load up on all that nutrient goodness, I suggest you look at either eating them whole or adding them to a smoothie.
The fiber in whole pomegranates will help protect against an insulin rush and in addition to that you’ll get all the extra benefits of the skin which are the richest source of punicalagins.
Best Testosterone Boosting Vitamins & Minerals
1. Vitamins B3, B6, B12
B3, B6 and B12 are crucial to your overall health as a man and your natural testosterone production. They affect energy levels, HDL (good cholesterol) levels, cognitive function and much more.
B3 in particular plays a crucial role in controlling HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. (study)
Cholesterol is a base of what forms testosterone so it is imperative to maximize your testosterone that you keep your HDL high and LDL low.
B6 helps increase testosterone levels by promoting androgens.
Insufficient levels of B6 can lead to “estrogen dominance” as the body is unable to properly metabolize estrogen.
B6 also aids in the production of Growth Hormone and helps lower prolactin levels. Prolactin has been directly correlated with lower testosterone levels. (study)
B12 affects almost every process in the human body at some level and testicular function in particular.
Deficiency in B12 is unfortunately becoming common place too. (study)
What’s worse is you may not even realize you are deficient in B12 until the symptoms become so severe that testosterone production may become the least of your worries.
Deficiency of these 3 crucial B-Vitamins is becoming more and more common, so it’s crucial to keep your body and testosterone running at peak levels, you take them as part of your daily supplement routine.
Read More About Vitamin B
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is soaring in the United States with estimates as high as 77% of the population. (study)
Men with a deficiency have significantly lower testosterone levels and higher estrogen levels, a higher percentage of body fat, less lean mass, higher rates of cardiovascular disease and more depression.
Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to increase free testosterone levels by a whopping 20%. (study)
Healthy levels of Vitamin D are also associated with:
- Strong bones
- Healthier Teeth
- Better insulin levels (also important to your T)
- Boosted immune system
- Healthy Brain Functionality
- Improved Cardiovascular System
Because of the extreme health benefits it’s become part of the status quo in the health and fitness community to recommend pretty outrageous amounts of vitamin D supplementation with upwards of 2,000 – 5,000 I.U. every day.
When you consider that 100% of the RDA is 400 I.U. you can see these recommendations can run in excess of 10x that amount.
There are studies which have shown that too much vitamin D via supplementation may actually have negative consequences though (study)
Sunlight is your best friend when it comes to vitamin D as your body will naturally produce it when exposed to the sun. Exactly how much you need varies both by skin color and how close to the equator you live but between 15 – 30 minutes of sunlight each day in a tank top and shorts is a pretty good place to start.
Because in the modern world it can at times be hard to even get that amount of sunlight, I do recommend you take a vitamin D supplement to ensure your reserves stay topped off even during times when may not be getting enough sun.
However, unless you are directly advised by a doctor or other trusted personal medical care provider, I would also recommend you keep that supplementation more in the 400 I.U. – 1,500 I.U. range.
Read More About Vitamin D
Boron has been found to reduce SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) in the blood which may be at the core of its testosterone boost capabilities.
In a recent 7 day study, men supplementing with 10mg of boron every day, saw their free testosterone levels increase an astounding 28.3% and estrogen levels decrease by -39%. (study)
Boron deficiency is rather common as it is hard to come by in foods.
Consider that avocados are one of your best sources of boron and you would have to eat an entire 1 cup serving of avocados to get just 1.7 mg of boron.
The goal should be closer to 10 – 15 mg if you want to maximize your testosterone so that would be about 7 avocados per day.
Avocados are one of my favorite foods in addition to being great for your T levels themselves but that’s just too many damn avocados, even for me.
Take a boron supplement that provides 10 mg per day to ensure you are getting enough.
Read More About Boron
It’s been estimated that as many as 68% of Americans, may be mildly deficient in magnesium. (study)
A few of the multitude of symptoms associated with magnesium deficiency include hormone imbalance, weak bones, cardiovascular problems, anxiety, and sleep problems.
In a 4-week study on both sedentary men and athletes both groups saw a significant rise in both free and total testosterone levels, upwards of 24% on average. (study)
Magnesium binds to the sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and prevents SHBG from binding up your testosterone. This is why magnesium’s biggest benefit is in increasing free testosterone levels and when your free T goes up, a strength and muscle size increase often follows suit.
Unlike boron, magnesium is in a lot of foods. However, the human body requires a lot more of it than it does boron. Upwards of 420 mg every day.
Magnesium also helps the body better absorb Vitamin D.
I recommend you take a magnesium supplement providing 30 – 100 mg per day to ensure your body is getting enough.
Read More About Magnesium
Zinc deficiency affects more than 2 billion people worldwide. (study)
Supplementation has been associated with improved anabolic hormone profile and muscle function in strength trained athletes.
It’s also been shown to increase testosterone levels in sedentary men. (study)
Note that zinc supplementations of 25 mg or more has been associated with anaemia and copper deficiency so you definitely want to keep it under 25 mg per day.
I recommend you take 10 – 20 mg of zinc in supplement form daily.
Read More About Zinc
Best Testosterone Boosting Herbs
1. Ashwagandha (KSM-66)
Ashwagandha is a great natural testosterone booster that has been around for centuries. It’s an ancient Ayurvedic herb traditionally said to give one the strength and virility of a horse.
Recent studies have documented amazing increases in strength and testosterone levels. One study on 57 men supplementing with ashwagandha KSM-66 found a significant increase in muscle size of the arms and chest.
An 18.7% increase in testosterone, muscle recovery and fat loss was also observed.
Most remarkably, a 1 rep max bench press was increased on average by a whopping 43.2 pounds over the 8 week study. (study)
Other benefits that have been associated with ashwagandha include:
I recommend you take between 400 – 650 mg of Ashwagandha KSM-66 extract per day to maximize all the benefits you can get from this amazing herb.
Read More About Ashwagandha KSM-66
2. Shilajit Extract
Shilajit is an absolute powerhouse of a supplement born at extremely high altitudes, deep within crevices in the Himalayan mountains.
Over hundreds, even thousands of years, organic material works its way deep into the rocks fissures where it is slowly grinded into a black resin.
Packed full of upwards of 85 different minerals, shilajit is also one of the only natural sources of high amounts of fulvic acid.
The fulvic acid can carry around 60 times its weight in minerals, vitamins and enzymes directly into your cells making both the shilajit itself and every any other nutrients you are taking along with it, extremely bioavailable.
In addition to that there are two different studies showing shilajit has a powerful and direct increase on testosterone in humans.
One case study showed a 23.5% increase in serum testosterone levels. (study)
In another study, participants realized a 19% increase in free testosterone levels! (study)
You do need to make sure when you buy shilajit you purchase it from a reputable source. Preferably one that tests for heavy metals and will show you the lab analysis.
Because fulvic acid is such a powerful nutrient absorption aid, it’s imperative your shilajit is pure and free of contaminants!
Note: Some companies advertise extremely high fulvic acid content (upwards of 60%) and try to pass this off as higher quality. It is not!
Because shilajit is rare and difficult to source it is extremely expensive. Some companies cut down on this cost by “cutting” their shilajit with high added doses of fulvic acid to increase their profitability.
I recommend you take between 150 – 250 mg of shilajit extract daily standardized to 20% – 30% fulvic acid.
Read More About Shilajit
3. Longjack (Tongkat Ali)
Used for centuries in the East, recent scientific evidence on longjack suggests it is a strong, natural testosterone booster.
It’s also been shown to increase libido, overall sense of sexual well-being, produce stronger erections and significantly improve fat loss. (study)
One recent study showed significant improvements in tension (-11%), anger (-12%), confusion (-15%).
And get this “Stress hormone profile (salivary cortisol and testosterone) was significantly improved with reduced cortisol exposure (−16%) and increased testosterone status (+37%)”. (study)
Longjack appears to work especially well with decreasing exercise reduced stress as well which is important to note because intense workouts are very stressful on the body and testosterone levels decrease significant when undergoing intense exercise.
As if that wasn’t enough reason to take longjack already, the herb was shown in yet another study in healthy men to increase muscle mass and strength. Arm circumference in particular improved significantly. (study)
Higher doses (above 150 mg) may require short cycles such as 5 days on and 5 days off or taking it every other day, which can become difficult to keep up with. Lower doses (less than 75 mg) will not likely be highly effective.
I recommend you supplement with 100 – 150 mg (100:1) extract daily.
Read More About LongJack
4. Maca Root
Packed full of phytonutrients, complex carbohydrates, fatty acids, 20 amino acids and 7 essential amino acids, minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron, and vitamins like B1, B2, C, D and E.
Maca root provides a rare set of nutrients which nourish the endocrine system keeping your body and hormones functioning properly.
The human body is like a symphony, not a single note. Maca is like the string family in an orchestra.
It’s not going to make the concert all by itself but it provides many crucial nutrients the body needs to create beautiful music or in this case increase testosterone.
Maca root even contains trace amounts of iodine which upwards of 96% of the population may be deficient in. (article)
This is important to note because in order to maximize your testosterone you need a properly functioning thyroid and in order for your thyroid to function properly it needs iodine! (article)
Iodine also works wonders at flushing toxins out of the body which can have particularly devastating effects on testosterone production. (article)
I recommend you supplement with between 400 – 800 mg of maca root (4:1) extract or 150 – 300 of (10:1) extract per day.
Read More About Maca Root
5. Panax Ginseng
Panax Ginseng is one of the most studied ancient herbs on the planet and its positive effects on the human body are wide ranging and well documented.
One study on panax ginseng supplementation on 66 humans showed both an increase in free testosterone as well as plasma total testosterone levels. (study)
Ginseng also directly stimulates the central nervous system and contains ginsenosides which increase the conversion of arginine to nitric oxide. (study)
An increase in nitric oxide can help increase blood flow, build muscle mass, and strength.
All of these are important to naturally boosting your testosterone levels.
Multiple studies have also showed ginseng to improve erection quality and overall satisfaction with sex too. (study)
It’s important not to confuse Panax Ginseng (also known as Red Ginseng and Korean Ginseng) with American or Siberian Ginseng which has a completely different nutrient profile.
The active ingredient in Panax Ginseng which provides the biggest benefit is called “ginsenosides”.
I recommend you supplement with 200 – 300 mg of Panax Ginseng daily that is standardized to 10 – 20% ginsenosides.
Read More About Panax Ginseng