What do you think of when you think of the term testosterone booster? Probably some crazy supplement, with a bunch of warnings on the side & some new chemical you’ve never heard of, right? Well, I’m about to tell you about a testosterone booster that is as natural as the air we breathe. It’s called magnesium.
Surprised? Well, this article aims to provide an in-depth and scientific look at everything men need to know about increasing testosterone through proper magnesium supplementation so you will no longer think of this natural supplement as just another mineral. Here we dive into the science behind this claim, the best types of magnesium supplements, the most effective dosages, and more…
Does magnesium supplementation increase testosterone?
Yes. There is plenty of peer-reviewed scientific evidence to back up the claim that proper magnesium supplementation does indeed increase testosterone levels in men. I will get into the details of the 3 most important and interesting studies on the topic.
Like almost any claim on the internet, it is possible to find people who make other claims. In this case, however, I find the evidence that magnesium works to increase testosterone quite overwhelming, and I can’t find much of anything from a trusted source that would state otherwise.
There are also countless bodybuilders, athletes, and world-class trainers who swear by magnesium supplementation for significant testosterone increases. While anecdotal reports are not a substitute for science, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to the real experiences from real people and top trainers who are using any supplement, as they are often “ahead of the curve” because they do a lot more experimentation than anyone. Scientific studies will then often follow the experiences of these trailblazers. Many new studies are underway. Let’s look at what we have currently:
The science behind magnesium increasing testosterone levels:
There have been many scientific studies showing that magnesium supplementation increases testosterone in men. Here we go into the 3 most important studies on the topic.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20352370 (Link to study) This 4-week study looked at the blood levels of both free and total testosterone in 3 groups of men. Group 1 was a group of sedentary men who took magnesium supplements (10mg per kg of body weight per day)
So for example, an 80 kg male would take 800 mg of magnesium per day for 4 weeks. He was “sedentary”, which means he basically just took the magnesium supplement each day and did nothing else. Not bad. Group 2 was a group of tae kwon do athletes. They also took magnesium supplements each day (10mg per kg of body weight per day) AND did tae kwon do exercises for between 1 hour 30 minutes and 2 hours each day. Group 3 was another group of tae kwon do athletes. They did the same tae kwon do exercises as group 2 (90-120 minutes per day) but took ZERO magnesium supplements.
The results were interesting:
ALL 3 groups of men saw increases in their levels of both free and total testosterone after the study. The group which took magnesium AND did tae kwon do saw their testosterone levels increase the most. The group of sedentary men who sat around taking magnesium supplements still saw significant increases in testosterone.
This study showed that magnesium supplementation increases both free and total testosterone levels in men. And it shows that men who exercise AND take magnesium supplements see their free and total testosterone levels rise even more than men who just take magnesium supplements without exercising OR men who just exercise without supplementing with magnesium.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1619184 (Link to study)
This 7-week double-blind study looked at the effects of magnesium supplementation on increasing strength. So even though directly measuring strength increases isn’t the same as measuring blood levels of testosterone per se, it is still a major passive indicator of an increase in testosterone, and in certain ways, it’s even more important because it’s an end goal most men are looking for. There were 2 groups; a total of 26 participants in the study. They were all men between 18 and 30 years of age.
There were 14 men in the control group (Group C) who took a placebo supplement (basically a fake sugar pill). There were 12 men in the experimental group (Group M) who took magnesium supplementation. The group who took magnesium took a total of 8mg per day per kg of body weight. (This study actually included any magnesium they got in their diets) Everyone in the study exercised 3 times per week. For each workout, they did 3 sets of 10 reps for both leg extensions and leg press. (Not exactly a huge workout!)
Anyway, the results were clear: Both groups gained strength during the 7 weeks, but the magnesium group (Group M) gained substantially more than the control group (Group C). The researchers concluded that magnesium supplementation may play a positive role in protein synthesis at the ribosomal level.
Translation: Magnesium supplementation makes you stronger in at least 2 ways from the first 2 studies. One is from a direct increase in testosterone. The other is from an improvement in protein synthesis.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21675994 (Link to study)
The third study looked at a cross-section of 399 men over the age of 65. They were looking for a correlation with magnesium levels and testosterone and other powerful anabolic (muscle building) hormones like insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) They had a lot of blood level data on all the men, so the researchers could tease out statistically significant correlations with the levels of magnesium and testosterone and IGF-1. The results clearly showed that higher levels of magnesium were associated with higher levels of testosterone (both free and total) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1).
An unbiased and reasonable skeptic will point to the fact that this study doesn’t prove that magnesium supplementation actually increases either testosterone or IGF-1. This is true; it could be a correlation and not causation. This means that it’s theoretically conceivable that magnesium is just present when testosterone is high and not causing it. Just like even though sales of ice cream are high in the summer, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to sell ice cream to try to make the weather warm-up!
But in conjunction with the other 2 studies and many more, this is very promising news. It looks like magnesium supplementation will not only make your testosterone levels higher (especially for older males) but it could likely make other very important anabolic hormones higher as well.
A brief synopsis of these 3 studies:
Magnesium supplementation significantly increases both free and total testosterone in men. Magnesium supplementation increases strength from more than just the mechanism of increased testosterone, but also from ribosomal protein synthesis. Supplementing with magnesium will help men increase their levels of testosterone whether they are sedentary or working out, and a combo of magnesium supplementation plus working out will raise their levels the highest. Magnesium supplementation has measurable positive effects on men aged 18 and up, and quite possibly from men younger than that. Magnesium increases testosterone, strength, and appears to increase other key male anabolic hormones as well.
What type of magnesium supplement is the best for increasing testosterone?
This is a great question, and it’s a very important question. Magnesium supplements are not created equal, and there are HUGE differences between them. It’s essential you learn the facts.
Generally speaking, the most important factor to look at when choosing a magnesium supplement is how well it will absorb. Magnesium actually never comes in the pure form (Mg 2+) as we learned in chemistry class. It can’t. The magnesium atom is far too reactive and needs to bond to something. So the form of the molecule the magnesium supplement comes in is essential because in many forms, even though magnesium is present in the molecule, the bond is too strong and the body can’t absorb the magnesium because it can’t break the bond.
This means that the magnesium molecule passes right through you and there is little to no point in taking it. And unfortunately, most of the magnesium supplements on the market are in a poorly absorbable form (because most consumers don’t know the difference and they are cheaper to produce for companies).
From an absorption perspective, magnesium oxide is the worst, and it’s very common for magnesium supplements. Don’t take magnesium oxide or any magnesium with an “ide” ending.
Magnesium citrate is far better and it’s getting more common. The most absorbable (bioavailable) form of magnesium is called magnesium bisglycinate. This “bisglycinate” form is gaining traction quickly and you’ll find it easily by searching online. But be careful of a brand selling magnesium citrate or even magnesium bisglycinate, because it’s still ok to call your product magnesium citrate or magnesium bisglycinate even if it’s in a “buffered” form. This “buffered” form means that there is a certain (often high) % of magnesium oxide thrown in and mixed with it.
(Similar to when you are trying to buy high-quality pure orange juice and you find out that many brands mix in water, sugar and a bunch of artificial colors and sweeteners yet still call it “orange juice”) What dosage of magnesium is best for increasing testosterone?
How much magnesium you should take is an excellent question. There is no single or universally accepted “ideal” dosage for magnesium. That said, there is a lot you still need to know. Most of the time, proper magnesium dosage is dependent on body weight. So if you are twice as heavy as someone else, you should be taking twice the amount of magnesium.
The second thing is that magnesium is excreted quickly, so it’s better to have smaller doses more often than it is to have one large dose. As mentioned above, the form the magnesium supplement comes in is incredibly important to the dose you need. Magnesium bisglycinate is the best for absorption while magnesium oxide is the worst. Finally, the amount of magnesium listed in a supplement is a little confusing.
Let me sort this out:
The amount of magnesium, like most supplements, is measured in milligrams (mg’s). Mg’s are the mass or “weight”. But remember, magnesium never comes in the pure “Mg 2+” form.
So let’s take magnesium oxide as an example because it’s a simple molecule. This is “MgO”. It’s one magnesium and one oxygen atom stuck together. The mass of one magnesium atom is “24” and the mass of one oxygen atom is “16”. That means the mass of magnesium in this molecule is 24/40 (or 60%) of the mass of the magnesium oxide molecule. So 100 mg of magnesium oxide is only 60 mg of “elemental” magnesium. So “60% magnesium oxide” is “pure magnesium oxide” but not pure magnesium. If you ever see any magnesium supplement claiming to be “pure magnesium”, then not only is it a total lie, but it actually makes no sense in terms of simple chemistry and math.
The amount of “elemental” or “pure” magnesium is what you need to measure, but oftentimes the magnesium is written in terms of the number of mg’s of the molecule. Even though magnesium bisglycinate is the most absorbable form, the best and purest “non-buffered” magnesium bisglycinate is only about 14% elemental magnesium. So 100 mg of magnesium bisglycinate is 14 mg of “pure magnesium”.
Ok… That’s a lot of info about a pretty simple question for dosage!
Let me now make it pretty simple. For a 180 pound male looking to increase testosterone, it would be wise to look for a high-quality pure magnesium bisglycinate and take about 1-2 grams total per day divided over 2-3 doses. That’s about 140-280 mg of pure elemental magnesium per day, and it’s in an excellent and highly absorbable form. Taking it with vitamin B6 is also a good idea because B6 makes it more bioavailable (absorb more).
It’s always a great idea to check with your doctor first when starting any new supplementation program. Together with your doctor, you can experiment with the best dosage for you.
How does magnesium work to increase testosterone?
Magnesium is an amazing mineral and it’s often cited to aid in over 300 important biochemical reactions in the body. It would be a monumental effort to explain exactly how magnesium achieves this. It’s incredibly complex.
I’ll end off by pointing out some facts on this topic to get you thinking about how this all works and why you may want to try out supplementing with high-quality magnesium.
Magnesium aids in sleep and also lowers anxiety (perhaps by blocking cortisol, the body’s stress hormone). Long healthy sleep and low levels of cortisol are associated with higher levels of free and total testosterone. So magnesium can help facilitate the reactions associated with building testosterone directly, and it can also help increase testosterone indirectly by blocking cortisol and improving sleep. So in addition to becoming stronger and having higher levels of testosterone, you’ll also likely experience better and longer sleep, less stress, and less anxiety.