Testosterone is cool

I posted this comment over at Mark’s blog. I thought it was interesting and entertaining enough to post it here, too.

I said:

[Quote from Mark’s post] “A recent vision study finds that men are better at detecting rapidly moving images and perceiving fine detail, while women are better at discriminating between colors. The study’s author was unable to establish a clear evolutionary reason for this development, but I’d love to hear your guesses.”


It’s the testosterone…


I cant remember where I found the article, but it was very eye opening.

Basically it reports anecdotal evidence from several women who had sex change procedures, which included hormones = testosterone.

They noticed significant changes in how they perceived things. It was easier to visualize their surroudnings. Focus improved. Details, drive, etc.

Whereas previously, before the treatment, they had less immediate focus on tasks at hand, and had a more pronounced “overall picture”, with less focus on details, and more focus on the final destination, so to speak.

I guess that’s why women naturally suck balls at driving…

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/weekend-link-love-208/#ixzz27PO4oVnt

Raise testosterone levels naturally by tinkering with diet, exercise, and lifestyle

Testosterone plays many roles in the human body. It is an important hormone in both men and women. There are lots of modern factors working against us these days that lower our bodies’ natural ability to produce the “T”, like BPA in plastics, carcinogens and toxins in the air, stress, lack of movement and exercise, and even lack of sunshine.

Why is “T” so important? Testosterone is the principal anabolic and sex hormone in humans, responsible for sexual desire and function, muscular hypertrophy, densification of bones, and hair growth. Compared to females, males famously produce about ten times the amount of testosterone, but females are far more sensitive to its effects. Though testosterone is largely responsible for those traits and characteristics that are considered “masculine” – physical strength, body hair, dominance, and virility – both sexes require it for proper sexual and physical development. In mammals, males secrete it primarily from the testicles (about 95% of the total amount, in fact) and women secrete it from the ovaries. Some is produced in the adrenal glands in both sexes.

So it’s our duty to ourselves, for longevity, health, and sexual happiness, to maximize natural “T” stimulators, and try to minimize “T” antagonists.

The first thing you should do is try to minimize those things which hinder natural “T” production. Since cholesterol is the mother of all hormones, and is a direct precurser for “T” production, we should make sure our bodies can produce plenty of it. That means avoiding statins and other cholesterol lowerig drugs (not only for “T” reasons, but for overall health reasons as well).

Stress causes us to increase our cortisol levels. Cortisol is a direct antagonist and “T” reducer. The easiest way to minimize stress is to get lots of sleep, avoid overtraining and excess cardio, and do lots of stress-releiving activities, like massage, camping, walking, or chillin’ with your significant other 😉

Foods that regularly spike blood glucose levels also have been shown to lower our natural “T”. Researchers found that 75 grams of pure glucose, and the resultant spike in blood sugar, was enough to drop testosterone levels by as much as 25% in a random grouping of 3 groups: healthy, prediabetic, and diabetic men. Now keep in mind how rapidly many SAD carb choices (pasta, cereal, bread, etc) convert to glucose upon digestion… Time to get stoneage! Eat paleo!

After diet and stress have been reigned in, our next step is to make little tweaks to our diet and lifestyle in order to maximize our natural “T” production.

A proper functioning body requires plenty of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, so we should make sure to consume a wide range of animal products and many colors of veggies. There is some great info [here] about high levels of vitamin A actually raising “T” production. Zinc is also directly related to “T” production. Therefore, make sure you eat plenty of seafood and grass-fed beef liver at least once per week! You can also make sure you eat plenty of saturated and monounsaturated fats. A study looking at male athletes found that both saturated and monounsaturated fats, as well as high cholesterol foods, were positively correlated with resting “T” levels. Comparatively, a low-fat high-fiber diet actually reduced serum and free “T” levels in middle aged men! Good thing the paleo diet is focused on plenty of nutrient-dense foods!

Vitamin D, already associated with bone and muscular strength, also positively correlates with testosterone levels in men. So make sure you get plenty of sun every day (don’t get burned and don’t use poisonous sunscreens). If you can’t get sun, you can supplement with about 5,000 IU of D3. I’ve even seen some people experiment with upwards of 10,000 IU per day.

If you’ve already been lifting heavy things, and sprinting, both of which have been shown to increase “T” levels, the next step would bo to maximize recovery. Since testosterone and growth hormone both correlate with deep sleep cycles, getting better quality sleep should help us maximize our usage of “T”. Zinc, Magnesium, vitamin D, and melatonin all promote deep, restful sleep, and have been shown to increase “T” levels and improve recovery time.

Utilizing rest periods between weight lifting sets, between 90 and 120 seconds, has been shown to increse “T” levels after intense training.

Also, avoiding other stressors, like large caloric deficits or very high activity levels, will both increase our ability to recover, increase the amount of fat burned, and reduce total cortisol levels, all of which may result in a bit higher “T” levels. Cutting calories too much just makes us hungry and stressed out. And running all the time just increases inflammation, which hinders our ability to recover and increases cortisol. Cortisol also results in strange things like abdominal fat accumulation.

If you want to try a few other things, here are some neat little tricks that may help you on workout days.

Like always, get stoneage!

~ Dan

High levels of vitamin A similar results to taking testosterone

Written by Chris Masterjohn   
December 13 2004
The dense forest of bodybuilding nutrition contains a paradox: the quantity of information available is abundant, but the wisdom of traditional diets to satisfy the primary concerns of bodybuilders is sparse and hard to find. Typical recommendations include very low-fat diets rich in protein foods like salmon and chicken.

You will search in vain through mainstream men’s health magazines to find so much as a mention of the importance of vitamin A to bodybuilding. Yet this nutrient is essential to muscle-building and may be the bodybuilder’s most potent weapon. Vitamin A is necessary for the utilization of protein and the production of testosterone and other growth factors. In fact, one human study, discussed below, found the administration of vitamin A and iron to have results equivalent to the administration of testosterone itself. Rather than advocating the consumption of vitamin-A rich foods such as liver and natural food-based supplements such as cod liver oil, mainstream men’s health writers are advocating diets very high in protein, which deplete vitamin A reserves, leaving one to wonder whether the athletes who resort to over-the-counter steroid supplements might be able to achieve similar results by consuming a traditional diet, rich in vitamin A.

Vitamin A and Testosterone

Abundant animal research indicates the importance of vitamin A to the production of testosterone. Vitamin A crosses the blood-testis barrier in its alcohol form as retinol, where it is stored in the Sertoli cells and converted as needed to its more biologically active form, retinoic acid. Experiments with rats show that greater concentrations of vitamin A in the testes increase basal testosterone secretion, as well as transferrin, which is responsible for the transport of iron; and a variety of growth factors including IGF-binding protein 4 (which transports IGF), androgen-binding protein (which transports androgens), transforming growth factor-beta (which causes cell growth but suppresses cancer) and steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (which is responsible for the transport of cholesterol into the mitochondria for its conversion to steroids). Vitamin A also decreases estrogen production in the male testes. Rats that are deficient in vitamin A experience decreased testosterone until the accessory sex organs atrophy, indicating that vitamin A not only aids in, but is essential to, testosterone production.1

One experiment using guinea pigs, which corroborates the many experiments done with rats, found a decrease in plasma testosterone associated with a deficiency in vitamin A.2 A human study comparing the dietary intakes of 155 pairs of male twins found a correlation between testosterone levels and vitamin A intake.3

The most compelling study is one that assigned 102 teenage boys with short stature and delayed puberty into four groups: a control, a testosterone-supplemented group, a vitamin A- and iron-supplemented group, and a group that received both testosterone and the nutritional supplementation. All treatments were effective in inducing growth and puberty, whereas the control group did not gain weight or begin puberty in the same period of time. What is most amazing is that the degree of growth acceleration was similar in the testosterone-treated group and the vitamin A-treated group. Pubertal onset occurred in 9-12 months in the testosterone group, and by 12 months in the vitamin-A group.4

This study suggests two things. The first is that the growth problems these boys experienced could have been avoided if their parents only had known the importance of serving a meal with liver on a weekly basis, as liver is very rich in both vitamin A and iron. The second is that, with equivalent hard work and dedication, athletes and body builders may be able to achieve similar results from their training by taking high-vitamin cod liver oil and eating foods rich in vitamin A on a regular basis as others receive from the common practice of supplementing with testosterone precursors.

Vitamin A and Prostate Cancer

Although some researchers have expressed concern that androgens such as testosterone may be involved in the etiology of prostate cancer, from vitamin A we can expect only more good news. Scientists in one controlled study administered doses of cyproterone acetate, an anti-androgen, and testosterone proprionate, to rats, followed by N-methyl-N-nitrosourea, a carcinogen, with one group treated with large doses of vitamin A. The incidence of prostate cancer in the group not treated with vitamin A was 65 percent, while only 18 percent and 20 percent of vitamin A-treated rats experienced dorsolateral and anterior prostate cancer, respectively.5

Vitamin A and Protein Utilization

The utilization of protein requires vitamin A. Several animal studies have shown that liver reserves of vitamin A are depleted by a high dietary intake of protein, while vitamin A increases in non-liver tissues. One explanation for this is that adequate protein is necessary for vitamin A transport. In one study researchers fed radioactively-labeled vitamin A to rats on low-protein and high-protein diets, using the amount of radioactivity present in exhaled gases, urine and feces as a measure of the metabolism of vitamin A, and found that vitamin A is indeed used at a higher rate on a high-protein diet.6

Vitamin A is not only depleted by a high intake of protein, but it is also necessary for the synthesis of new protein, which is the goal of the bodybuilder. Rats fed diets deficient in vitamin A synthesize protein at a lower rate than rats fed adequate vitamin A.7 Cultured skeletal muscle cells increase the amount of protein per cell when exposed to vitamin A and D, but not when exposed to vitamin D alone.8

Eat Your Liver

Bodybuilders and other athletes interested in gaining muscle have an interest in boosting their levels of testosterone and other growth factors and maximizing their utilization of protein and its incorporation into muscle cells. Typical recommendations usually include very high amounts of protein, but exclude foods like liver that are high in vitamin A, and low-fat recommendations all but banish vitamin A entirely from the diet by excluding foods such as full-fat milk. The combination of a high-protein diet that depletes vitamin A and a low-fat diet that fails to provide vitamin A is a clear recipe for deficiency of this vital nutrient. Exercises that elicit a high demand for testosterone, such as squats and deadlifts, are often recommended for muscle growth, but without vitamin A the body cannot meet that demand for testosterone. It’s high time for athletes to forget the modern mantras and remember the dietary wisdom of the past, achieving a lean, muscular physique through traditional foods such as liver, egg yolks, full-fat milk, butter from grass-fed cows and cod liver oil.

Editor’s Note: Many health conscious individuals avoid cod liver oil and other foods rich in vitamin A because of concerns about vitamin A toxicity. Yet, according to the Merck Manual, vitamin A poisoning is rare. In adults, vitamin A toxicity has been reported in Arctic explorers who developed drowsiness, irritability, headaches and vomiting, with subsequent peeling of the skin, within a few hours of ingesting several million units of vitamin A from polar bear or seal liver. These symptoms cleared up with discontinuation of the vitamin A rich food. Other than this unusual example, however, only vitamin A from “megavitamin tablets containing vitamin A. . . when taken for a long time” has induced acute toxicity, that is, 100,000 IU synthetic vitamin A per day taken for many months. Unless you are an Arctic explorer, it is very difficult to develop vitamin A toxicity from food. The putative toxic dose of 100,000 IU per day would be contained in 3 tablespoons of high vitamin cod liver oil, 6 tablespoons of regular cod liver oil, two-and-one-half 100-gram servings of duck liver, 150 grams of beef liver, seven pounds of butter or 309 egg yolks. Bodybuilders undergoing strenuous exercise can consume even higher amounts without adverse effects. For further information see “Vitamin A Saga.”


  1. Livera, et al., “Regulation and Perturbation of Testicular Functions by Vitamin A” (Review), Reproduction(2002) 124, 173-180
  2. Nayyar, et. al., “Alterations in binding characteristics of peripheral benzodiazepine receptors in testes by vitamin A deficiency in guinea pigs,” Mol Cell Biochem. 2000 Aug;211(1-2):47-50
  3. Bishop, et. al., “The effect of nutritional factors on sex hormone levels in male twins,” Genet Epidemiol. 1988;5(1):43-59.
  4. Zadik, et. al., “Vitamin A and iron supplementation is as efficient as hormonal therapy in constitutionally delayed children,” Clin Endocrinol(Oxf). 2004 Jun; 60(6):682-7.
  5. McCormick, et. al., “Chemoprevention of rat prostate carcinogenesis by 9-cis-retinoic acid,” Cancer Res. 1999 Feb 1;59(3):521-4.
  6. Furusho, et. al., “Tissue specific-distribution and metabolism of vitamin A are affected by dietary protein levels in rats,” Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1998;68(5):287-92
  7. Narbonne, et. al., “Protein metabolism in vitamin A deficient rats. II. Protein synthesis in striated muscle,” Ann Nutr Aliment. 1978;32(1):59-75.
  8. Stio, et. al., “Synergistic effect of vitamin D derivatives and retinoids on C2C12 skeletal muscle cells,” IUBMB Life. 2002 Mar;53(3):175-81

This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2004.