Testosterone Boosters: Overview
Like their name suggests, testosterone boosters are dietary supplements containing one or more ingredients that support the production, release or activity of the androgenic (masculine) hormone testosterone. There are various reasons why a person might want to boost their testosterone levels, but the majority of testosterone-boosting products are marketed to men, mainly bodybuilders and athletes for the purposes of increasing muscle mass and size, libido and athletic performance – all of which have a very close relationship to testosterone levels.
In men, most testosterone is produced by the testes, with production peaking around age 25 and slowly declining thereafter. At a certain age, the level of testosterone will have declined to a point where increasing it will improve testosterone-dependent aspects of his health such as mood, muscle strength, libido and sexual performance. Prior to that point, when a man is still young and his testosterone levels are naturally elevated, testosterone boosters have very little to offer in terms of sustained increased in strength, muscle mass or other benefits.
Why Boost Testosterone?
Too easily dismissed as just a sex or bodybuilding hormone, testosterone in fact plays a major role in protecting the overall physical and mental health of both sexes. Testosterone supports a staggering range of physical and psychological health factors; mood, libido, mental sharpness, energy level, cardiac health, muscle mass, bone density, immune function, skin health and more. Testosterone was, until fairly recently, marginalized and unjustly tainted by the controversy around artificial hormones used by professional athletes. Many mainstream physicians are now reconsidering natural testosterone replacement therapy for mature patients, largely in response to a desire to preserve quality-of-life and their insistence on a natural approach to doing so.
Testosterone Boosters; What They Can't Do, What They Can Do
Testosterone boosters are nowhere near a viable replacement for prescription testosterone replacement therapies; about the most one can realistically expect is a relatively short-term and modest increase in testosterone levels, after which a product should be discontinued to minimize the disruption of normal hormone function and balance. This is referred to as a post-cycle phase and may require the use of other supplement products.
Still, given testosterone's intimate relationship to muscle size, strength and athletic performance, even a short-term boost in testosterone could be enormously beneficial to a strength trainer, bodybuilder or other type of athlete. The key is timing and leveraging the short-term boosted period to coincide as closely as possible with the event timeframe. Used correctly, testosterone boosters may offer a significant anabolic 'push' that gives competitors or hardcore trainers the edge they may have lost due to age-related testosterone decline.
Unlike the prescription approach, testosterone boosters don't require an expensive doctors visits, injections or patches. They should still be used carefully and not indiscriminately. Although there is the potential for abuse and side-effects, testosterone boosters are very safe products in general and – short of being reckless and disregarding a label's directions - about the biggest risk in using a testosterone booster is the chance that it won't live up to the user's expectations or manufacturer's claims.
Testosterone boosters may include some nutrients that are essential in their own right such as zinc, magnesium or vitamin B6. They very often include herb extracts, especially tribulus, also long jack and nettle root among others.
Testosterone Boosters: Do They Work?
Every multi-ingredient product in this category consists of a proprietary blend of nutrients. This approach to labeling helps makers preserve the uniqueness of their formula since dietary supplements do not enjoy the same types of intellectual property protections as other products. A proprietary blend lists the ingredients in order of most-to-least concentration but doesn't list specific amounts. That makes it very hard to evaluate a product by looking at the ingredients, even if you're familiar with the ingredients. As a result, many customers want to know if a product will work before they purchase it.
Unfortunately, the only way to unequivocally determine how well a testosterone booster works is to obtain a baseline blood testosterone level, and then follow-up tests after using a product. Needless to say, very few customers have access to that kind of regular testing. Filtering out the hearsay and hype from the legitimate products and information can be difficult. For best results, stick with well-known brands and take the products just as directed. Keep your training and diet as consistent as possible while using a testosterone booster and if you do have access to blood tests, get them. The information will give you a useful basis for evaluating the effectiveness of your product.