Testosterone is the male anabolic hormone. This is a substance that is responsible for many of the traits that we typically consider masculine, ranging from virility to muscle tone and low body fat. Men with high testosterone are often considered to be ‘alpha males’ and will typically have more success with athletic pursuits. They will emerge as the leaders of groups and generally be considered ‘more manly’ than their lower-T counterparts.
It’s a tragic shame then, that the vast majority of men suffer with low testosterone. In fact, the average man today will have 20% less testosterone than the average man 20 years ago! This is the equivalent of a 1% drop in testosterone levels every year and this is even worse for older men.
Low testosterone doesn’t only make you less muscular and competitive though, it also leads to weight gain, lethargy and depression. In short, if you are an average guy, then there is a better-than-average chance that you’re not firing on all cylinders because you have low levels of testosterone.
If you feel tired, if you’re stressed a lot of the time, if you struggle to get out of bed in the mornings… then it might be that you have low testosterone levels. But here’s the good news: there are a few very easy ways to fix this or at least improve the situation; and one of the very most effective of these is to increase the amount of vitamin D you are getting. You'll see how vitamin D and testosterone go hand in hand.
The Link Between Vitamin D and Testosterone
Vitamin D is not like other vitamins that we get from our diet. Rather, vitamin D is produced in the body in response to sunlight exposure. In short then, the more you are exposed to the sun, the higher your vitamin D levels are likely to be.
Vitamin D is also different from other vitamins in terms of the effect it has on the body. Vitamin D actually acts more like a hormone than a vitamin and is in fact considered to be almost like a ‘master key’ for regulating other hormones. Vitamin D can this way improve your production and regulation of testosterone (among other things). In fact, studies that involve getting participants to take extra vitamin D have shown it to increase levels of testosterone by up to 25% over the course of a year.
Another benefit of vitamin D is that it appears to help improve sleep, especially when taken in the morning. This has an indirect effect on testosterone, seeing as we produce the maximum amount of testosterone during sleep. This is when the body is most anabolic, resulting in increased production of testosterone, as well as human growth hormone and various other hormones. Vitamin D helps to regulate sleep because it helps to set the body clock. In nature, we would have started our day with a big dose of vitamin D as the sun rose – and this would then help to regulate a range of other cycles and processes in the body.
Other advantages of vitamin D include improved absorption of calcium and magnesium, leading to greater bone density. It also plays a role in boosting cardiovascular and neuromuscular health.
As with testosterone, vitamin D is something that many of us are lacking. In fact, it is thought that up to half of the entire population may suffer with vitamin D deficiency, so increasing this is something that should definitely be a priority.
How to Increase Vitamin D
So how precisely you should go about raising vitamin D. What options do you have? Here are a few suggestions we have to help up your daily dose of vitamin D.
Spend More Time Outdoors
The first and by far best option is to get vitamin D naturally by spending more time outdoors. You can do this in a variety of ways but the most simple way would be to make sure you just take a walk outside each day. Walking will give you a chance to absorb higher levels of sunlight, while at the same time providing you with a gentle form of cardiovascular exercise. If you can aim to walk around 4 miles a day (about 10,000 steps), you’ll find it does wonders for your heart health, fitness, waistline and mood!
Of course it is important to consider the potential risks of sunlight exposure at the same time too though. Make sure that you don’t spend too long in the sun at any time to avoid sun damage and the risk of skin cancer.
Diet and Supplements
Another option is to try and get vitamin D through your diet. You can find vitamin D in some oily fish for instance, as well as eggs and milk which are fortified with it.
However, getting vitamin D from diet alone is often not enough. If you live in an overcast climate, or if you struggle to get outside for exercise; then you might do well to consider getting more vitamin D from a supplement. You can take vitamin D in the form of drops, sprays or capsules/tablets; or it can be taken alongside other vitamins and minerals as part of a multivitamin supplement.
The question is how much to take and the answer is that this depends on the individual. The Vitamin D Council recommends that users take 1,000IU per 25lbs of body weight. Other resources and studies suggest that the safe ‘upper limit’ is around 4,000UL (this is according to the US Government’s recommendations). More recent studies however suggest that you can take as much as 10,000IU per day, as this is the maximum amount that the skin would produce from sun exposure.
Make sure not to exceed this amount, as an overdose of vitamin D can lead to headaches, nausea and other symptoms. The best strategy is to experiment with supplements and changes to your routine in order to find what works best for you and what leads to the maximum increase in energy, virility and muscle mass.
Whatever the case, look for ways to increase your vitamin D and you may just find that you feel better than every before!