Worried About Low Testosterone? The Answer May Be Your Diet

More D could help with more T
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More D could help with more T

Many Americans have low levels of vitamin D in the blood. In one study, middle-aged men whose blood tests revealed low vitamin D were supplemented with a lot of vitamin D, resulting in significantly higher testosterone levels, as well as improved erectile dysfunction scores. But this isn’t a DIY project accomplished by a trip down the supplement aisle. The initial vitamin D dose in the study was 1,000 times the Recommended Dietary Allowance for men. High doses of vitamin D should be overseen by a physician.

“Typically, if a patient has low testosterone, I will supplement the testosterone first,” says Jason Kovac, MD, PhD, of the Men’s Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. But straight-up testosterone medications don’t work for everybody. “If they’re still not noticing improvement with symptoms like fatigue,” Kovac says, “I test vitamin D levels and supplement with that if needed and we typically see good results.”

In the meantime, if you’re not getting direct sunlight on bare skin (as in no sunscreen) twice a week for 20 minutes, you may be falling short in vitamin D, especially if you live in the Northern states where the sun’s rays are less intense. Sure, some foods contain vitamin D, but only if you’re drinking vitamin D-fortified milk or orange juice, eating fatty fish like salmon and tuna, and shoveling in vitamin-D fortified breakfast cereal on a regular basis. Even then, it’s nearly impossible to get enough vitamin D from food alone. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, take it with food that contains fat, which will help your body absorb it better.

It’s easy to ask your doctor to add a vitamin D test to your next lab work (because you are already getting your cholesterol checked, right?) to find out exactly where you stand.