Testosterone deficiency, or low T, negatively affects a man’s quality of life and is a known risk factor for early death. Testosterone levels are at their highest by early adulthood, and then decrease by 1–2 percent each year around age 40.
Why is low T harmful? Testosterone has effects on the brain, skin, bones, and heart, and impacts erectile function, fat metabolism, muscle growth, bone density, energy production, lipid levels, insulin balance, and much more.
The Most Common Cause of Low T
Primary hypogonadism, which occurs when the testicles don’t produce enough testosterone, is the leading contributor to low testosterone. This may be spurred by certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that find their way into the body through water bottles, and other plastics, cosmetics, canned food, fertilizers, toothpastes, clothes, soaps, paper, textiles, carpets, utensils, deodorants, bedding, and other commonly used products.
The Best Way to Get Tested
The primary test for testosterone deficiency is total testosterone. Unfortunately, there isn’t a consensus as to what precise range indicates a deficient blood level of total testosterone. Laboratories differ in their testosterone reference ranges, although they normally range from 250 ng/dL to 400 ng/dL and up to 1000 to 1100 ng/ dL. The American Urological Association states that a total testosterone level below 300 ng/dL is a reasonable cutoff for healthy testosterone.
Testosterone deficiency should be diagnosed with two separate total testosterone measurements in the early morning. Serum testosterone levels vary significantly due to normal hormonal rhythms of the endocrine system and are highest in the early morning.
A Mediterranean diet centered on fresh veggies and healthy fats is a good choice for men with low T.
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