Can Andro Supplements Amp Up Your Testosterone Levels?

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Andro supplements are a type of dietary supplement containing a steroid hormone called androstenedione. They're frequently touted as a natural alternative to anabolic steroids, a class of drugs with testosterone-like effects. Sometimes referred to as performance-enhancing substances, andro supplements are often used for such purposes as improving strength and boosting endurance.

Naturally present in your body, androstenedione plays a key role in the production of testosterone and estrogen.

Androstenedione is mainly produced in the testes in men and in the ovaries in women, as well as in the adrenal glands.

Uses for Andro Supplements

Andro supplements are typically used to increase testosterone levels. It's thought that achieving higher testosterone levels can produce the following benefits: enhanced athletic performance, greater muscle mass, improved sexual function and performance, increased energy, and increased libido.

The Benefits of Andro Supplements

To date, there's very little scientific support for the claim that andro supplements can increase testosterone levels and enhance health.

The available research on andro supplements includes a small study published in JAMA in 1999. This study involved 30 healthy men (ages 19 to 29), all of whom had normal testosterone levels.

For this study, 20 participants performed eight weeks of whole-body resistance training. During that time, these men received either andro supplements or a placebo.

The study's remaining ten participants received a single dose of androstenedione, but did not perform resistance training.

In their analysis of both groups of participants who received androstenedione, researchers found that andro supplements had no effect on testosterone levels. Looking at factors such as increases in lean body mass and decreases in fat mass, the researchers also found no differences between study members given androstenedione and those given the placebo.

What's more, use of andro supplements was associated with a decrease in HDL ("good") cholesterol, which is the type of cholesterol that helps remove LDL ("bad") cholesterol from your arteries.

Additionally, a study published in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology in 2000 found that use of andro supplements failed to increase testosterone levels in a small group of men placed on a heavy-resistance-training-based exercise program. The study also determined that use of andro supplements may increase estrogen levels when combined with heavy resistance training.

Side Effects & Safety Concerns

Use of andro supplements is associated with a broad range of side effects, including:

• abnormal menstrual periods
• acne
• behavioral changes
• breast development in men
• depression
• growth of facial hair in women
• male-pattern baldness
• painful or prolonged erections
• reduced sperm production
• shrunken testicles

There's also some concern that use of andro supplements may lead to increased risk of such conditions as heart disease, liver disease, and cancers of the breast, prostate, and pancreas.

In addition, andro supplements should be avoided by people with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.

Alternatives to Andro Supplements

A number of other dietary supplements are commonly marketed as a natural approach to increasing testosterone levels. These supplements include herbs like fenugreek, as well as substances like DHEA. However, there's currently a lack of research showing that these supplements can produce a significant effect on testosterone levels.

Although testosterone levels naturally drop as you get older, healthy behaviors such as exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, managing your stress, watching your weight, and limiting your alcohol intake may help protect against declines in testosterone through the years.

If you're thinking of using any type of dietary supplement (including andro supplements) to increase your testosterone levels, talk to your doctor before starting your supplement regimen.

Sources

Ballantyne CS1, Phillips SM, MacDonald JR, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD. "The acute effects of androstenedione supplementation in healthy young males." Can J Appl Physiol. 2000 Feb;25(1):68-78.

Beckham SG1, Earnest CP. "Four weeks of androstenedione supplementation diminishes the treatment response in middle aged men." Br J Sports Med. 2003 Jun;37(3):212-8.

Brown GA1, Vukovich MD, Martini ER, Kohut ML, Franke WD, Jackson DA, King DS. "Effects of androstenedione-herbal supplementation on serum sex hormone concentrations in 30- to 59-year-old men." Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2001 Sep;71(5):293-301.

King DS1, Sharp RL, Vukovich MD, Brown GA, Reifenrath TA, Uhl NL, Parsons KA. "Effect of oral androstenedione on serum testosterone and adaptations to resistance training in young men: a randomized controlled trial." JAMA. 1999 Jun 2;281(21):2020-8.

Leder BZ1, Catlin DH, Longcope C, Ahrens B, Schoenfeld DA, Finkelstein JS. "Metabolism of orally administered androstenedione in young men." J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Aug;86(8):3654-8.

Leder BZ1, Leblanc KM, Longcope C, Lee H, Catlin DH, Finkelstein JS. "Effects of oral androstenedione administration on serum testosterone and estradiol levels in postmenopausal women." J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Dec;87(12):5449-54.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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