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Male sex hormone Testosterone is the holy grail for any man trying to reshape his physique by putting on lean muscle and cutting fat. High testosterone levels are so sought after that some men illegally obtain and inject synthetic hormone, making severe compromises to their health in the pursuit of the perfect physique. Something that many men do not realise, is that there are ways to safely maximise the amount of testosterone that their own bodies are naturally able to produce.

There are a number of plant based supplements and amino acids that are known to have a positive effect on testosterone production, but a group of scientists in Austria had a different idea, hypothesising that Vitamin D could boost the levels of this male hormone.

The group performed this research by looking at gene expression in cells isolated from adult human testicles, the cells that produce testosterone. They exposed these cells to vitamin D and measured the expression of genes involved in testosterone production, and also looked the level of testosterone that the cells secreted into the culture medium.

Using these techniques, the scientists were able to confirm that exposure to vitamin D increased the expression of a number of genes that are responsible for testosterone and androgen synthesis, and that this occurred via activation of a cellular receptor for vitamin D. In addition, they found that cells exposed to vitamin D secreted higher levels of testosterone into the culture media in which they were grown. While this research is in its early days and trials have not been undertaken on people, this research shows a lot of promise in discovering a new way men can naturally boost their testosterone levels.

Vitamin D is synthesised in the body in response to sunlight exposure so theoretically it is one of the easiest vitamins to obtain. Fifteen minutes of bright sunlight per day is thought sufficient to meet daily needs, yet vitamin D deficiency is becoming increasingly common. Climate, work commitments, and the movement toward indoor-based entertainment mean that many people are not synthesising sufficient quantities of this vitamin on their own, and supplementation is becoming common.

Now men have a good reason to get off the couch and enjoy the great outdoors!

Hofer D, Münzker J, Schwetz V, Ulbing M, Hutz K, Stiegler P, Zigeuner R, Pieber TR, Müller H, Obermayer-Pietsch B. Testicular synthesis and vitamin D action. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Jun 17

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