Research suggests that improved supplements have little or no effect.
Men who wish to improve their libido or develop body mass may think twice before using testosterone supplements, also known as “T-boosters,” because research shows that alternatives to conventional testosterone replacement therapy may not contain ingredients. Backed by claims, according to Mary K. Samplaski, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Urology at the Keck School of Medicine of the USC.
“Many of the supplements on the market contain only vitamins and minerals, but they do nothing to improve testosterone,” says Samplaski. “Often, people can be vulnerable to the marketing component of these products, making it difficult to recognize the myth and what the reality is.”
Testosterone is the main male hormone and the reason why men produce sperm and Adam’s apple. That is why men develop more “masculine” characteristics, such as swollen muscles, deep sound, broad shoulders and hairy chest. After thirty years, most men experience a gradual decrease in testosterone, which sometimes results in diminished characteristics or new symptoms, such as erectile dysfunction. In an attempt to restore the hands of time, some men will become T reinforcements.
Using a structured review methodology, Samplaski and a team of researchers explored the active ingredients and claims made on 50 improved T supplements. Their findings were published as an original article in the Global Journal of Men’s Health.
The researchers conducted a Google search using the search term “Testosterone Booster”, simulating a typical online search for someone looking to increase testosterone levels and then identifying the first 50 products that were launched. Then, the team reviewed the published scientific literature on testosterone and the 109 ingredients contained in the supplements. Zinc, fenugreek extract and vitamin B6 were three of the most common ingredients in supplements.
The team also compared the content of each supplement with the recommended daily allowance of the Food and Drug Administration (RDA) and the maximum permitted intake level (UL) as determined by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
Of the 150 dietary supplements, researchers found 16 general statements that benefit patients, including claims of “increased free T or T”, “increased lean body mass or muscle mass” or “increased sexual desire or libido”.
While 90% of T booster supplements claimed to promote testosterone, the researchers found that less than 25% of the supplements have data to support their claims. Many of them also contain high doses of vitamins and minerals, sometimes more than the limit.
Unlike medications, supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or treat diseases, according to the FDA. As such, Samplaski would like to see more regulation on supplements that increase testosterone to protect consumers. He would also like to explore his patients’ publications with more accurate information in the hope of encouraging patients to seek a specialist in cases of low testosterone.
While no one can escape the effects of aging, Samplaski says there is something men can do to address their fears. “The safest and most effective way for men to increase low testosterone levels is to talk to a doctor or dietitian.”