Raise your vitamin D level and you will raise your testosterone. Higher testosterone means better body composition, more muscle mass, and better overall health. A groundbreaking new study shows that raising your vitamin D level will increase free testosterone, and it supports one of the very first studies to identify the relationship between vitamin D and testosterone.
First, let’s look at a study that tested a large population of men aged 40 to 79 for vitamin D and testosterone levels. The men who were deficient in vitamin D (below 20 ng/ml) had much lower free testosterone and higher estrogen. Along with poor reproductive health, the men who were deficient in vitamin D also had a higher body mass index, higher rates of cardiovascular disease, and greater chance of depression.
The men with adequate vitamin D (above 30 ng/ml) had higher testosterone levels, the leanest body composition, a greater percentage of lean mass, and better overall health. Researchers suggest vitamin D supports testosterone production because there are vitamin D receptors on the cells in the various glands that release testosterone. In addition, vitamin D may inhibit a process called aromatization in which testosterone is changed into estrogen in men.
In the second study, researchers gave men with low testosterone and vitamin D deficiency 3,332 IUs of vitamin D or a placebo daily for a year. Taking the vitamin D supplement more than doubled vitamin D levels, bringing them into the adequate range (36 ng/ml). The men who took vitamin D increased free testosterone levels by the end of the study by 20 percent, whereas the placebo group had no change in testosterone or vitamin D.
Such a robust increase in testosterone is impressive from something as simple as getting enough vitamin D. Obviously, it is critical men get adequate vitamin D, but because this mineral plays such a central role in maintaining proper hormonal levels, women and children must attend to their vitamin D status as well. Vitamin D acts as an anti-cancer agent by ensuring healthy cell replication throughout the body, and women with higher vitamin D levels have less breast cancer risk. They have also been found to have a more favorable body composition, less body fat, and pregnant mothers with higher vitamin D levels have leaner offspring as well!
The take away is that you must ensure adequate vitamin D status for optimal body composition and health. To do so, it is necessary to supplement with D unless you get at least 20 minutes of full body sun exposure daily. The Vitamin D Council suggests achieving a level of at least 50 ng/ml, which is higher than the level reached by the men in the testosterone study. To learn about how to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D, read Five Steps to Manage Your Vitamin D Levels
Lee, D, Tajar, A., et al. Association of Hypogonadism with Vitamin D Status: The European Male Ageing Study. European Journal of Endocrinology. January 2012. 166, 75-85.
Pilz, S., Frisch, S., et al. Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Testosterone Levels in Men. Hormone and Metabolic Research. 2011. 43, 223-225.