Testosterone is a sex hormone produced in large amounts in the testes, in lesser amounts in the ovaries and in small amounts by the adrenal glands. While categorized as a male sex hormone, or androgen, testosterone plays a role in female sexual development as well as affecting the entire body.
In men, testosterone is key for the development of primary and secondary sexual characteristics. It is related to common features associated with puberty such as increases in muscle and body hair and the voice becoming deeper. But is also critical for general health, emotional well-being, osteoporosis prevention and regulation of intellectual and physical energy.
Maintaining healthy levels of testosterone is especially important for men. Men typically experience a gradual decrease in testosterone production after age 30. Just as for women, this decrease leads to feelings of fatigue, weakness, depression, and a reduced libido.
Testosterone is also important for women, although they produce much less. It helps them stabilize moods, maintains muscle mass, improves bone density, and contributes to a healthy libido. The ovaries are responsible for over half of a woman’s testosterone production. Women often complain of loss of energy, strength and sex drive after having a hysterectomy or having their ovaries removed.
Symptoms of low testosterone levels include:
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Decreased libido/sex drive
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Decrease in Ejaculate
- Loss of Genital Sensitivity
- Lack of Energy
- Mood Problems/Depression
- Loss of Muscle Mass and Strength
- Increased body Fat
- Decrease in Size and Firmness of Testes
What can you do to increase testosterone levels? A good starting point would be to lose any excess weight. Being overweight increases your risk of having low testosterone. There are also exercises that increase testosterone. Compound exercises and Olympic lifts help to raise testosterone levels and zinc-rich foods such as oysters and nuts are known to be natural testosterone boosters. However, be sure to consult your physician before starting any exercise regime.
Along with exercising, you can eat a healthy diet that includes testosterone-boosting foods such as tuna, salmon and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli). Eliminate sugar from your diet or at least use it sparingly. Sugar increases insulin levels which causes testosterone to drop. Include healthy fats such as the omega-3s and avocados. Make sure you get enough zinc, which is an important nutrient for testosterone production.
Testosterone naturally decreases with age, but with a few simple lifestyle changes you can stay healthy, virile and sexually potent.
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