Maximizing Your Testosterone- Is Magnesium a Solution?

By Neel Duggal Feb 11, 2015


To get detailed portrait of the human body’s internal biochemistry, it is helpful to understand how biomarkers impact each other. In this article we investigate recent scientific literature looking at how testosterone levels are affected by a commonly overlooked biomarker: the mineral magnesium. Read below to learn the importance of each biomarker and how monitoring magnesium can boost testosterone and improve muscle growth, sex drive, and overall health and wellness in both men and women.

Testosterone is Essential to Both Men and Women

When people think of testosterone they instantly recall it as the “male hormone”. Many drugs and fitness articles claim to hold the promise of fixing all of your problems by surging testosterone production and fixing “low T”. However, what is the real deal behind this hormone that InsideTracker manages?

Testosterone is an important steroid hormone found in both men and women. In men, elevated testosterone at puberty helps produce sperm and leads to the formation of secondary sexual characteristics such as body hair. In both men and women, testosterone is important for bone strength, development of lean muscle mass and strength, and maintaining libido and overall mood.


In the human body, testosterone is found in the bloodstream in one of two forms. It can be bound to proteins called sex hormone binding globulin- abbreviated as SHBG- or albumin. These proteins transport testosterone throughout the body but it remains biologically inactive (meaning that it does not exert its effects upon the body). Testosterone can be also be unbound to either protein where it is biologically active and referred to as free testosterone. Approximately 2-3% of the testosterone in the human body is free [1]. The sum of both of these forms of testosterone is referred to as total testosterone. All four of these biomarkers associated with testosterone- free testosterone, bound testosterone, SBGH, and total testosterone- are measured in InsideTracker’s ultimate panel. Several recent studies suggest a correlation between magnesium and unbound testosterone- allowing both men and women to maximize its performance-enhancing properties.  

Why is Magnesium Important to your Body?



In contrast to testosterone, nobody seems to talk about magnesium at all. But despite it’s relatively lower sex appeal compared to testosterone, it is integral in maximizing your health and wellness. Magnesium is an essential ion usually found at levels of 25 g in the human body. It helps facilitate more than 300 reactions throughout the body [2]. As a result, it is involved in a variety of processes including synthesizing proteins, optimizing muscle and nerve function, regulating blood glucose levels, and controlling blood pressure. Magnesium status is most directly influenced by dietary intake and dietitians recommend consuming a daily dosage of 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women [2]. It is commonly found in foods such as cereal, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, cocoa, and seafood [2]. Because of its importance, tracking its levels in your blood serum using InsideTracker is crucial in maintaining your health. However, recent literature shows another previously overlooked benefit: it can increase the amount testosterone in your body. Below we examine the research illustrating this unusual connection

The Magnetic Connection- Testosterone and Magnesium

In a landmark study examining the role of magnesium in total testosterone production, researchers observed the impact of strength development during a double-blind, 7-week strength training program in 26 untrained subjects. In it, 12 men received magnesium supplementation while 14 others received placebos and served as the controls. Each subject performed three sets of 10 repetitions of leg press and leg extension three times per week. As predicted, both groups experienced gains in strength as exhibited by increases muscle mass and performance. However, results indicated a significant increase in testosterone for the group taking magnesium supplementation compared to the control group after adjustment for baseline testosterone and lean body mass [3]. These findings suggest that magnesium may play an essential role in testosterone production with the authors surmising that Mg stimulates the synthesis of proteins involved in the production of testosterone.

Summary: Magnesium supplementation in conjunction with resistance training increases testosterone production in men


Magnesium and Athletes- What Science is Discovering 

It took another 20 years before researchers investigated the relationship between magnesium and testosterone using a credible methodology. In a 2011 study, researchers examined how 4 weeks of magnesium supplementation and exercise affected free and total plasma testosterone levels by comparing sportsmen practicing tae-kwon do and sedentary controls at rest and after exhaustion. To accomplish this they recruited 30 healthy male subjects aged 18-22 and divided them into 3 groups that followed a specific exercise regimen. The first group served as a sedentary group and took a supplement of 10 mg/kg daily. The second and third groups both engaged in 90-120 minutes of tae-kwon do five days a week; however, the former took magnesium supplementation while the latter did not.

Researchers documented no differences in testosterone levels at rest prior to the experiment and testosterone levels were elevated to the same extent during exhaustion amongst all groups before supplementation [4]. After the four week study, the group that took magnesium supplementation and exercised experienced the greatest increase in testosterone both at rest and after exhaustion [4]. Group 3 had higher testosterone at rest and at exhaustion compared to group 1. These findings led the authors to conclude that “our results show that supplementation with magnesium increases free and total testosterone values in sedentary and in athletes. The increases are higher in those who exercise than in sedentary individuals” [4]. However, they also acknowledged that they were uncertain through which mechanism magnesium stimulated testosterone production.

Summary: In conjunction with low-resistance exercise, magnesium supplementation can increase baseline levels of testosterone more than exercise alone


Magnesium and Testosterone – Lessons from Aging Research


In a large epidemiological study, researchers evaluated the relationship between magnesium and testosterone in 399 elderly men in the Italian region of Tuscany. The subjects had a mean age of 74.18 years with a range of 65.2-92.4 years. Instead of the authors providing a dietary magnesium supplementation, they monitored serum magnesium levels as their reference and observed any correlations. After adjusting for age and other external factors, magnesium was positively associated with total testosterone or the sum of free and bound testosterone [5]. Because of these findings, the researchers concluded “in a cohort of older men, magnesium levels are strongly and independently associated with the anabolic hormone testosterone” [5].

The authors acknowledged that they did not know the exact mechanism of the correlation and sought to see if an intervention in this same elderly population resulted in changes of serum testosterone. The researchers performed a double-blind, randomized controlled trial where they provided 21 elderly hospitalized elderly males with magnesium sulfate treatment and the other with placebo. At the end of the trial period, the authors observed a “somewhat statistically significant” association between magnesium consumption and testosterone [6]. There were no noticeable differences in the biomarkers free testosterone or SHBG.

Summary: There is a strong correlation between magnesium and free testosterone in elderly men but the basis of the association is uncertain


Is the Science Lab Discovering the Anabolic Process?

In a 2009 study, researchers used a laboratory process called biochromotography to measure the effect magnesium had on sex hormone binding globulin’s ability to bind to testosterone. Recall that if more SHBG binds to testosterone, less free testosterone circulates in the body. According to the authors, magnesium induced “uncompetitive inhibition of [magnesium] on SHBG binding which led to an enhancement of bioavailable testosterone” [7]. This suggests that the magnesium ion stimulates the release of testosterone from SHBG for the body and may play a role in facilitating anabolic processes such as muscle growth.


Taking Your Body to the Next Level


We get it: testosterone is sexy and magnesium isn’t. However, a variety of recent studies show that improving magnesium in your body increases total testosterone. While this is true for men of different age groups, more research needs to be done to examine the effects of magnesium on female subjects as well as the mechanism through which magnesium achieves this increase. Regardless, the importance of managing your magnesium, the four testosterone biomarkers, and 25 other biomarkers cannot be stated enough. Click below to start utilizing the most rigorous research to make long-lasting interventions that optimize your fitness and health.


 Optimize Your Testosterone



List of References

[1] Emadi-Konjin, Pasha, Jerald Bain, and Irvin L. Bromberg. "Evaluation of an algorithm for calculation of serum “bioavailable” testosterone (BAT)." Clinical biochemistry 36.8 (2003): 591-596.

[2] Maggio, Marcello, et al. "The Interplay between Magnesium and Testosterone in Modulating Physical Function in Men." International journal of endocrinology2014 (2014).

[3] Brilla, Lorraine R., and Timothy F. Haley. "Effect of magnesium supplementation on strength training in humans." Journal of the American College of Nutrition 11.3 (1992): 326-329.

[4] Cinar, Vedat, et al. "Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion." Biological trace element research 140.1 (2011): 18-23.

[5] Maggio, M., et al. "Magnesium and anabolic hormones in older men." International journal of andrology 34.6pt2 (2011): e594-e600.

[6] Maggio, Marcello, et al. "The Interplay between Magnesium and Testosterone in Modulating Physical Function in Men." International journal of endocrinology2014 (2014).

[7] Excoffon, L., et al. "Magnesium effect on testosterone–SHBG association studied by a novel molecular chromatography approach." Journal of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis 49.2 (2009): 175-180.



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