Magnesium and Testosterone: Less SHBG and More Free-T
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Vlad Belghiru, MD
Magnesium is the 11th most-abundant mineral in the human body, and it controls more than 300 bodily functions, along with hundreds of enzyme functions. Most people associate the mineral only with bone and heart health, but it’s so much more than just for the heart and bones…
…You see magnesium is also the primary electrolyte used by virtually all of the bodily enzymes. It maintains fluid balance, gives energy to the cells (ATP), activates creatine, improves sleep quality, and increases the amount of bio-active (free) testosterone.
All that’s great, but the thing that I’m most interested in the last one. Magnesium increasing free testosterone levels:
Magnesium and Testosterone Levels
Magnesium is very similar to zinc when it comes to increasing testosterone levels.
Deficiency in both will seriously lower testosterone levels, but if you’re already having adequate amounts of the minerals in your system, then megadosing with them will not do much for your hormones.
And this is where it all boils down. Do you actually need more magnesium?
research suggests that you probably do, as this study shows that nearly 70% of the adults in the United States eat below the recommended RDA of magnesium, 19% eating less than half of the recommended daily value.
On top of that, magnesium evaporates from the body through sweat, so if you’re hitting the gym, or living in a hot place, then it’s very likely that you’re not consuming enough of this essentially important mineral (especially if your eating habits are based around the Western diet).
Back to the actual subject, here are some studies:
a) This in-vitro study found out that magnesium free’s bound testosterone and makes it more bio-active. This happens because the mineral inhibits SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), which is a molecule that binds to free testosterone, making it unavailable for the receptors.
b) In this human study, roughly one gram of magnesium was enough to increase free testosterone levels by 24% in combination with intense exercise.
c) In this study which had 400 participants, the researchers found out that in older men, higher serum magnesium levels correlate with higher testosterone levels.
d) The researchers in this review study found out something very similar about magnesium as the studies cited above. This is what they write: “there is evidence that magnesium exerts a positive influence on anabolic hormonal status, including testosterone, in men.”
e) In this study, the researchers found out that Gitelman’s syndrome (which causes imbalances in magnesium and calcium levels) often leads to delayed puberty in young boys, most likely this delay in puberty is caused by low testosterone levels, and the low T is caused by low magnesium and calcium levels.
So all-in-all, it seems that there’s a point in supplementing with magnesium, especially if you’re exercising.
However, if you sit at the couch all day, and already consume plenty of magnesium, then it’s likely that extra supplementation isn’t going to do much.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does magnesium boost testosterone?
Answer: Since magnesium lowers SHBG, it is likely to boost free testosterone levels naturally by leaving more of the bioactive portion of the hormone into the bloodstream, making it available to attach into the androgen receptors (AR).
What is the best form of magnesium to supplement with?
Answer: Magnesium glycinate (affiliate link) is the best form of oral magnesium in terms of absorption, whereas oxide is the worst (and most used).
How much magnesium should a man take daily?
Answer: The RDA (required daily amount) of magnesium for a grown man is 400-420mg per day, which is the bare minimum you should be getting. Individuals who are active and sweat much (which removes magnesium through the sweat glands) may need 1000-2000mg per day. This higher dosage is also optimal for hormone production according to the clinical evidence presented in the study from Selcuk University.
What are the best dietary sources for magnesium?
Answer: Contrary to popular belief, grains are not a reliable source of magnesium due to the high amount of phytic acid. You’re far better of by consuming the following foods: Raw cacao products, unprocessed salts, meat, leafy greens, and some nuts.
I’ve heard that calcium blocks the absorption of magnesium?
Answer: Calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron all bind to the same receptors inside the body, however, the receptors can uptake around 800 mg’s of minerals, so unless you’re mega-dosing on all of them simultaneously, you should be fine in terms of absorption
Five Foods High in Magnesium to Promote Androgen Production
1. Dark Chocolate and Cacao Products
The cacao bean in its unprocessed state is one of the richest known dietary sources of magnesium.
This makes raw cacao powder (and many other products made using cacao bean) great foods to replenish bodily magnesium levels.
100 grams of cacao powder, for example, contains 520mg’s of magnesium which is 130% of the RDA.
If you opt for dark chocolate or raw cacao nibs which also have the cacao fat intact, you’ll deliver your body with an awesome testosterone boosting saturated fat rich in stearic acid (one of the best possible fatty-acids in terms of T-production).
Animal meat, especially beef, is a great source of magnesium.
It’s not as dense in the mineral as cacao beans are, as 100 grams of beef patties will give you a decent 50mg’s (12% RDA) of magnesium.
However, since beef is one of the best foods to increase natural testosterone levels and should be your main protein source anyway, having it as one of your magnesium sources is a great idea.
Just remember that beef shouldn’t be your ONLY magnesium source, as it would take almost a kilo (2.2lb) of beef patties to actually meet the daily magnesium needs.
…It’s also a very good natural source of magnesium.
100 grams of cooked spinach will give you 87mg’s of magnesium which is 22% of the RDA.
Aside from eating some dark chocolate and beef, consider adding a cup of cooked spinach to your diet. Not only to supply magnesium, but also because it’s an incredibly healthy leafy green that works wonders for your hormones and circulation.
4. Brazil Nuts
I believe that every man should be consuming a handful of Brazil nuts daily to promote healthy testosterone levels.
This is because they’re ridiculously high in the minerals boron and selenium (both of which are crucial for T-production)…
…And also loaded with magnesium, as 100 grams will give you 376mg’s of magnesium, which is 94% of the RDA, aka. almost solely enough to meet the daily needs.
Note that you should be getting your Brazil nuts with as much skin as possible, since that’s where the majority of the minerals are in.
5. Swiss Chard
Similarly to spinach, Swiss chard is a naturally dense source of nitrates (compounds that have been scientifically proven to increase nitric oxide and erection quality).
On top of that, there’s plenty of magnesium in this leafy green.
To be specific, 100 grams of cooked swiss chard gives you 86mg’s of magnesium, covering 21% of the RDA.
So obviously, the testosterone boosting greens of choice for replenishing magnesium levels are spinach and Swiss chard.
Conclusion on Magnesium and Male Hormones
Magnesium is very much like zinc in terms of increasing testosterone. If you’re deficient in it, your testosterone levels will decrease quite significantly, but if you have plenty of it in your system already, then consuming, even more, isn’t going to do much…
…But as explained above, the majority of us in this planet can’t get enough of magnesium, to begin with, so supplementation in most cases is going to increase baseline testosterone. If you’re looking for high-quality magnesium supplement, take a look at this article.