Do any supplements increase testosterone? (part 2)K
In the first part of this series, we looked at whether the three most popular ingredients found in testosterone boosters (zinc, tongkat ali, and fenugreek) had any effect on testosterone levels. The conclusion was that most healthy individuals would not see any meaningful results from taking a product with those three ingredients. In this article, we’ll look at the research behind the next three most popular ingredients: tribulus terrestris, magnesium, and ashwagandha extract.
TL;DR: Tribulus terrestris, magnesium, and ashwagandha extract probably have a limited ability to increase testosterone levels in young, healthy, and trained individuals. Most of the increases were seen in older populations that had lower baseline testosterone levels. While the evidence was not plentiful, ashwagandha extract had the most promising potential. Still, you should not expect to see significant improvements in testosterone levels after taking any of the ingredients highlighted above.
Tribulus Terrestris is found in 50% of testosterone boosters in the database. This ingredient is a plant found in India. It has been used to treat various diseases in both Indian and Chinese medicine1,2.
A 2013 review of 11 studies looked at whether this herbal extract affected testosterone levels. This review concluded that tribulus terrestris was ineffective at increasing testosterone levels in animals and humans. The population studied in this review included young men, women, and older men2. Several other studies confirmed that tribulus terrestris did not increase testosterone levels3,4 or lower body fat5.
There were, however, two studies that tested the ingredient on older men. One study was done on older men with erectile dysfunction; the other on older, obese men with diabetes. The results of both of these studies showed tribulus terrestris increased levels of testosterone6,7.
Verdict on Tribulus Terrestris: If you are young and in-shape, this ingredient is unlikely to affect your testosterone levels. There is some promise in its use in older populations where natural testosterone levels have decreased.
Magnesium is found in about 34% of the testosterone boosting supplements in the database. Magnesium is a mineral involved in over 300 reactions in the body. It’s involved in energy metabolism, immune response, and heart functions8.
In a study on 18-22 year old males, researchers found that magnesium supplementation did increase testosterone levels9. Unfortunately, there is not much research looking at magnesium’s effects on testosterone by itself. There are studies looking at the effects of combining zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 (ZMA) on testosterone levels8,10,11. The three studies referenced here did not show an increase in testosterone levels after ZMA supplementation.
Verdict on Magnesium: Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence to conclude whether magnesium effectively increases testosterone levels. The studies looking at ZMA did not show promising results either. When you include the evidence on ZMA, it seems unlikely magnesium would have any impact on testosterone.
Ashwagandha, also known as withania somnifera, is found in 33% of testosterone boosters in the database. This ingredient is an herb and has been used for its anti-stress, neuroprotective, and rejuvenating effects12.
In one study on 18-50 year olds, results showed a significant increase in testosterone levels after supplementation13. Another study on males aged 40-70 also found significant increases in testosterone13.
Verdict on Ashwagandha: While there’s not much evidence, two studies point to the possibility that this ingredient may increase testosterone levels. The studies referenced did include more older males than younger which could have skewed the results.
The Bottom Line
The ingredients highlighted in this article probably have a limited ability to increase testosterone levels in young, healthy, and trained individuals. Most of the increases were seen in older populations that had lower baseline testosterone levels. While the evidence was not plentiful, ashwagandha extract had the most promising potential. Still, you should not expect to see significant improvements in testosterone levels after taking any of the ingredients highlighted above.
- Chhatre, S., Nesari, T., Kanchan, D., Somani, G., & Sathaye, S. (2014). Phytopharmacological overview of Tribulus terrestris. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 8(15), 45. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.125530
- Qureshi, A., Naughton, D. P., & Petroczi, A. (2014). A Systematic Review on the Herbal Extract Tribulus terrestris and the Roots of its Putative Aphrodisiac and Performance Enhancing Effect. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 11(1), 64-79. doi:10.3109/19390211.2014.887602
- Santos, C., Reis, L., Destro-Saade, R., Luiza-Reis, A., & Fregonesi, A. (2014). Tribulus terrestris versus placebo in the treatment of erectile dysfunction: A prospective, randomized, double-blind study. Actas Urológicas Españolas (English Edition), 38(4), 244-248. doi:10.1016/j.acuroe.2014.03.009
- Poprzecki, S., & Zebrowska, A. (2005). Ergogenic effects of Tribulus terrestris supplementation in men. Journal of Human Kinetics, 13.
- Antonio, J., Uelmen, J., Rodriguez, R., & Earnest, C. (2000). The effects of tribulus terrestris on body composition and exercise performance in resistance-trained males. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 10(2), 208-215. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.10.2.208
- Moghadam, B., & Azarbayjani, M. (2019). INDEPENDENT AND INTERACTIVE EFFECT OF TRIBULUS TERRESTRIS SUPPLEMENTATION AND RESISTANCE TRAINING ON SEXUAL AND ERECTILE FUNCTION IN OBESE MEN WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES.
- GamalEl Din, S. F., Abdel Salam, M. A., Mohamed, M. S., Ahmed, A. R., Motawaa, A. T., Saadeldin, O. A., & Elnabarway, R. R. (2018). Tribulus terrestris versus placebo in the treatment of erectile dysfunction and lower urinary tract symptoms in patients with late-onset hypogonadism: A placebo-controlled study. Urologia Journal, 86(2), 74-78. doi:10.1177/0391560318802160
- Peeri, M. (2013). Effects of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 supplementation on hormones and performance in weightlifters. ANNALS OF BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH, 4(8), 163-168.
- Cinar, V., Polat, Y., Baltaci, A. K., & Mogulkoc, R. (2010). Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Biological Trace Element Research, 140(1), 18-23. doi:10.1007/s12011-010-8676-3
- Femiano, D., & Morris, C. (2015). Does supplementation with zinc magnesium aspartate (zma) increase levels of serum testosterone in men? Evidence-Based Practice, 18(3). doi:10.1097/01.ebp.0000540925.02721.e6
- Cerqueira, H., Filho, H. T., & Martinelli, J. C. (2018). Effects of Zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 (ZMA) supplementation on serum IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and TESTOSTERONE concentrations in young athletes. Endocrine Abstracts. doi:10.1530/endoabs.56.p665
- Wankhede, S., Langade, D., Joshi, K., Sinha, S. R., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2015). Examining the effect OF WITHANIA SOMNIFERA supplementation on muscle strength and RECOVERY: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1). doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9
- Lopresti, A. L., Drummond, P. D., & Smith, S. J. (2019). A randomized, double-blind, Placebo-Controlled, crossover study examining the hormonal and Vitality effects Of ashwagandha (WITHANIA somnifera) in AGING, OVERWEIGHT Males. American Journal of Men’s Health, 13(2), 155798831983598. doi:10.1177/1557988319835985