Mag-sterone: The link between magnesium and testosterone

Magnesium is an incredibly important mineral in the body and your testosterone levels.

It’s involved in over 300 processes in the body. Less than 1% is found in the blood, about 27% is found intracellular and approximately 60% is found in the bone.

A few key things that is caused by low magnesium is:

  • Inflammation (R)
  • Leaky gut (R)
  • Muscle wasting and loss of muscle strength and function (R, R)
  • Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety (R, R)
  • Reduced DNA synthesis and stability and increased DNA damage (R, R)
  • Overactivation of the adrenal glands (R)
  • Reduced energy production (R)

During a magnesium deficiency, endotoxin (a toxin created by bacteria in the gut) absorption (“allowed” by leaky gut), pathogenic gut bacteria (which is increased under magnesium deficiency) and chronic low-grade inflammation are increased while energy production is reduced.

Oxidative stress, inflammation and low energy (ATP) have a significant negative effect on testosterone levels.

Supplemental magnesium is definitely able to increase testosterone, which is shown by multiple research papers (R, R).

Magnesium supplementation is able to increase testosterone in sedentary, beginner and advanced athletes and it potentiates the testosterone boost induced by exercise (R). The dose used in this study was 10mg/kg of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt), which has roughly 1mg of elemental magnesium (10%) per 10mg.

Other good sources of magnesium include magnesium (Mg) hydroxide, which contains 42% elemental magnesium, Mg citrate which contains 16% elemental magnesium, Mg glycinate which has 14.1%, Mg chloride which has 12%, Mg gluconate which has 5%, Mg taurate which has 8.9% and Mg threonate which has 7.2%.

The top 5 absorbable forms of magnesium are Mg bicarbonate (which is a mix of Mg hydroxide with carbonated water (such as seltzer water)), Mg glycinate, Mg threonate, Mg taurate and Mg citrate.

6 ways how magnesium can increase testosterone

No 1. Lowering gut inflammation and preventing leaky gut

A diet low in magnesium leads to a decrease in bifidobacteria in the gut as well as to an increase in gut permeability (R). This allows for more endotoxins (which ) in the gut to enter the bloodstream and induce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. There is a condition called GELDING (Gut Endotoxin Leading to a Decline In Gonadal function), which is basically hypogonadism induced by endotoxins.

Most diets are low in magnesium due to people eating lots of refined foods that have close to 0 magnesium. On top of that, the magnesium-rich food that they might eat is rich in phytic acid which binds to the magnesium, inhibiting its absorption.

Thirdly, those with low stomach acid or who are on PPI drugs have reduced absorption of magnesium, because magnesium requires an acidic environment for proper absorption.

No 2. Improving energy production

Mg is essential for ATP production, as ATP is bound to an Mg ion in order to be biologically active. Low magnesium = low ATP.

I quote (R):

On binding with the receptor on the cell membrane of Leydig cell, LH induces the synthesis of cAMP from ATP: cAMP catalyzes the synthesis of protein kinase A, which is needed for the transport of cholesterol from the cytoplasmic pool to mitochondria. 

These authors show that maintenance of mitochondrial membrane potential, mitochondrial ATP synthesis, and mitochondrial pH are all required for acute steroid biosynthesis, leading to the following conclusions: 1) mitochondria must be energized, polarized, and actively respiring to support Leydig cell steroidogenesis, and 2) alterations in the mitochondrial state may thus be involved in regulating steroid biosynthesis.

As concluded from the study above, a high energy state is necessary for proper hormone production and magnesium is essential for that.

No 3. Improving insulin sensitivity

Testosterone levels are positively correlated with insulin sensitivity. In this study, subjects with hypogonadal testosterone levels had a BMI greater than 25 kg/m(2) and a threefold higher prevalence of the metabolic syndrome than their eugonadal counterparts (R).

This study provides evidence that testosterone production can be lowered by inhibiting insulin secretion, without lowering free fatty acids as well (R). This shows that elevated free fatty acids that induce insulin resistance inhibit testosterone production as well.

In addition, insulin resistance of muscle cells augmented mitochondrial capacity and lowers energy production, which will also have a negative effect on testosterone levels.

GLUT4 transporters are significantly reduced in an insulin-resistant state, which reduces glucose uptake into cells.

Magnesium is able to increase glucose utilization by improving insulin sensitivity and also by increasing GLUT4 and GLUT3 transporters, which can then supply the muscles, testes and nervous system with more glucose.

No 4. Reducing cortisol

Excess cortisol lowers testosterone levels, increases the aromatase and inhibits thyroid hormone production and conversion. Dysregulations of the HPA axis (meaning elevated cortisol) may contribute to the hyper-emotionality in response to dietary-induced hypomagnesemia (R).

Magnesium acts as an adaptogen and reduces stress and cortisol.

No 5. Increasing thyroid hormone production

Thyroid hormones are powerful drivers of testosterone production. High cholesterol and low testosterone is usually a very good sign that thyroid hormones are low, or that stress hormones or rT3 are high.

The Mg-ATP complex acts on iodine uptake and high doses of magnesium increase the activity of the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones (R).

There is also a positive correlation between magnesium and T4 and T3 levels. Thyroid hormones in turn are responsible for magnesium uptake into cells.

This study shows that magnesium supplementation at a dose of 10mg/kg increased thyroid hormones, free T4 and T3. (R)

No 6. Regulating the metabolism of vitamin D

Magnesium is needed for vitamin D conversion, and vitamin D can powerfully increase testosterone.

From my vitamin D article:

Vitamin D is directly involved in steroidogenesis, by binding to vitamin D receptors (VDR) as well as to VDR/RXR (vitamin A) receptor complexes to upregulate steroidogenic genes (CYP11A1HSD3B2CYP19A1,  CYP3A4 and SRD5A1) (5). (Vitamin D works in synergy with vitamin A in steroidogenesis).

Vitamin D is positively associated with total testosterone (TT), free testosterone (fT) and lower SHBG (567). Increases seen for TT are between 17.8% to 25% and 20% to 22% for fT depending on BMI, nutrition status, vitamin D level and supplemental dose. (89)

Vitamin D further enhances the actions of androgens (e.g. DHT) by inhibiting their deactivation from androgen receptors by inhibiting the glucuronidation (a mechanism that inactivates and eliminates substances) of DHT, resulting in an accumulation of DHT to exert a more powerful effect. (10)

1,25(OH)D levels furthermore showed a 2 fold increase in androgen receptors as well as an increased androgen affinity to their receptors. (1112)

Conclusion

Magnesium is absolutely amazing and there is a big chance you need more of it. I thought I was getting enough since cron-o-meter said I was getting around 450mg daily, until I added just an additional 100mg through supplementation. Immediately my sleep got much better, I slept deeper, had clearer dreams, woke up more refreshed and felt better overall.

Oral magnesium: (Amazon, iHerb)

Topical magnesium: (Amazon, iHerb, IdealabsDC (product: Magnoil)

As always, thanks so much for reading my article. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions. And if you found this article to be insightful and helpful please like and share so this information can help others as well.

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