Testosterone Boosters: What Are They and Do They Work?

In the United States, there are multiple testosterone booster products available on the market. All of which claim to increase testosterone levels, increase energy levels, and improve a man’s sex life. However, do these supplements work?

Key takeaways:
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    If you have symptoms of low testosterone (erectile dysfunction, decreased muscle mass, depression), see your doctor determine if your testosterone levels are truly low.
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    Testosterone boosting supplements contain a mixture of vitamins, minerals, and herbal ingredients (on average 8 ingredients/supplement).
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    The majority of these ingredients have no studies documenting their effects on testosterone levels in human participants.
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    Online reviews may be disingenuous and misleading.
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    Talk to your doctor. There are many prescription options to help restore your testosterone levels to normal.

What are testosterone boosters?

There are many natural testosterone boosters advertised and available that claim they can boost testosterone levels. These supplements are often a combination of vitamins, minerals, and herbal ingredients.

As men age, testosterone levels decrease at a rate of approximately 0.4–2% per year after turning 30. This can lead some men to experience symptoms of low testosterone like erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, and reduced muscle mass. Testosterone boosters claim to reverse these effects and increase testosterone levels.

However, do these supplements work? Are their claims backed by scientific research? First, let’s discuss low testosterone.

Do I have low testosterone?

Many symptoms of low testosterone such as erectile dysfunction, depression, and feelings of fatigue can be the result of other medical conditions. In addition, men with low testosterone levels may not experience any symptoms.

Therefore, if you have any concerns or symptoms that you may have low testosterone you should consult your doctor. Your doctor can order a blood test that can measure your testosterone levels. They can also determine what is causing your testosterone levels to be low. More importantly, they can evaluate you for other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.

Therefore, it is not recommended to use a testosterone booster if you do not have low levels of testosterone.

I have low testosterone, do these boosters work?

Many of the advertisements for these testosterone boosters state that their claims are backed by science. However, many of the studies they reference were performed on animals or were low-quality studies.

When evaluating the true effects of these products, it becomes difficult as many of these products contain multiple ingredients. One study found that on average they contain 8 different ingredients.

On the evaluation of each ingredient individually, more than 61% had no studies looking at their effects on testosterone levels. In addition, almost 14% of ingredients had conflicting effects on testosterone levels (i.e., one study showed an increase in testosterone levels and another showed a decrease).

Studies documenting these supplements’ effectiveness on testosterone levels are scarce and thus these supplements should not be universally considered effective.

But, the reviews say it is effective

This is another concern with universally recommending these products. These can often be misleading or even fake reviews that overstate the benefit of these supplements.

In a study using a filtration method to identify possible “unnatural” or fake reviews the number of positive reviews significantly decreased. Of which there was a reduction in 91% of reviews stating an increased libido, a 93% reduction in reviews stating improved endurance/strength, and a 60% decrease in reviews stating improved erections.

Additionally, it was found that only 19% of studies involving the top 10 ingredients of these boosters were performed on human participants. Out of these studies, only 30% of them showed an increase in testosterone levels.

Testosterone-boosting supplements are commonly advertised on the internet and make substantial claims as to their effectiveness. However, few studies are showing their effect on humans and thus can not be universally recommended for use. Especially when there are numerous products on the market that have been proven safe and effective in restoring testosterone levels to normal.