The Best Testosterone Boosters for Men Over 50

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on November 29, 2023
7 min read

Testosterone levels naturally decline as you age. While testosterone therapy can be an option, it has disadvantages as well. Some older people on testosterone therapy could face increased cardiac risks. You may be interested in natural testosterone boosters instead. Many over-the-counter (OTC) products make claims, but there is limited research to back them up. 

Before you buy a testosterone booster, learn about the role of testosterone and the risks and benefits of testosterone treatments. 



Testosterone is the major sex hormone in men. It affects bodily functions including: 

  • Sperm production
  • Sex drive
  • Muscle strength and size
  • Deepening voice during puberty
  • Bone growth and strength
  • Growth of facial, body, and pubic hair in puberty
  • Development of the penis and testes
  • May play a role in hair loss later in life

Testosterone may play other important roles that we don't know about. Your ideal level of testosterone is difficult to calculate. Levels can vary over time and even over a single day. 

Testosterone declines with age, but it is a slow decline. Testosterone decreases 1% to 2% per year. More than 33% of men over 45 may have lower than normal testosterone levels. Symptoms of low testosterone include:  

  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increased breast size
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of body hair
  • Hot flashes
  • Low libido
  • Erectile dysfunction

These are supplements that contain things like vitamins, minerals, and herbs that are meant to increase your body's natural production of testosterone. Some lifestyle changes and healthy habits can also boost your testosterone. 

Companies that sell them claim these supplements can help you build lean muscle mass, increase your sex drive and sexual function, and give you more energy, among other health benefits.

Testosterone-boosting supplements are different from testosterone therapy. Also called androgen replacement therapy, this is a medical treatment your doctor may prescribe if blood tests show unusually low levels of testosterone. It's also a gender-affirming treatment for people seeking more "masculine" physical characteristics, like a deeper voice and facial hair. The hormone is usually given through your skin as a gel or a patch or injected into your muscle. 

Several types of supplements claim to increase your testosterone levels. The results are mixed. Some of these supplements include: 

D-aspartic acid. D-aspartic acid is a natural amino acid. A recent study found that it may increase levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. Both of these may stimulate the body to release more testosterone.

However, a subsequent study showed that taking 3 grams of D-aspartic acid did not affect testosterone levels. Taking 6 grams reduced levels. 

Zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral for your healthy body function. Zinc deficiency has been linked to low testosterone levels. Zinc may promote testosterone production in the testes. Long-term zinc supplementation may lead to increased testosterone levels.

Magnesium. Taking magnesium as a supplement has been shown to increase free and total testosterone values. This may work for both sedentary people and athletes. People who exercise had higher testosterone increases.

Vitamin D. Your body naturally produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. However, people who don't have much exposure to sunlight may be deficient in vitamin D. In a yearlong study, 65 men who took 3,300 IU of vitamin D daily increased their testosterone levels by 20% over those who didn't.

DHEA. Your body makes dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in your adrenal glands and uses it to make both testosterone and estrogen. Levels naturally decline as you get older. A review of dozens of clinical trials showed that DHEA supplements do increase blood testosterone levels in men and women. Researchers have looked into whether it helps with menopause symptoms, erectile dysfunction, and mental and physical signs of aging, but results have been mixed. 

Ashwagandha. Also called Indian ginseng, people have used this plant for thousands of years in traditional medicine, particularly the Indian practice called Ayurveda. It's taken for many conditions, including anxiety and insomnia, and to improve male fertility. 

Three clinical trials found a significant increase in the blood testosterone levels of men who took specific formulations of ashwagandha compared to those who got a fake medicine (placebo). But another trial showed no effect.  

A main concern with supplements is that they aren't regulated by the FDA the same way drugs are. That means there's no guarantee of how powerful the active ingredients are or if the products even contain what they say they do.

Also, some supplements aren't safe to take with some prescription drugs. Talk to your doctor before you try any supplements to make sure they won't interact with your other medications.

Certain testosterone boosters have specific side effects. For example:

  • Too much zinc can cause anemia and problems with your immune system.
  • You can also get too much vitamin D, which can cause digestive problems, weakness, confusion, heart rhythm problems, and  kidney damage.
  • DHEA might raise your blood pressure and lower your "good" cholesterol levels. It can also make hormone-related conditions worse, like polycystic ovarian syndrome and certain cancers.  
  • Ashwagandha can cause stomach upset and diarrhea, and rarely, liver damage.

Testosterone therapy also has a risk for some serious side effects, including:  

  • High blood pressure
  • Too many red blood cells, which can increase the likelihood of a blood clot 
  • Enlarged prostate or growth of pre-existing prostate cancer 
  • Liver damage 
  • Sleep apnea

Supplements aren't the only way to increase your testosterone levels naturally. Several lifestyle interventions may boost your testosterone and better your overall health, including: 

Exercise. The best types of exercise to increase your testosterone levels are weightlifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Building muscle mass triggers your body to produce testosterone. By contrast, endurance exercises like cycling for hours or running marathons can actually reduce your testosterone level.  

Maintain a healthy weight.  If you're obese, you're four times more likely to benefit from testosterone replacement than non-obese men. Obesity is directly linked to low testosterone levels. Aging 10 years increases your odds of having low testosterone by 36%, but a 4-inch increase in waist size may increase your chances by up to 75%. 

Diet. There's evidence that both a low-fat diet and a diet high in foods that promote inflammation, like saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugary carbs, can lower testosterone levels. So it makes sense that a testosterone-boosting diet should be full of lean protein, healthy fats, and foods high in antioxidants, like berries and leafy greens. You may also want to include foods rich in the natural testosterone boosters zinc (oysters, beef, oats), magnesium (nuts, seeds, spinach, beans), and vitamin D (fatty fish, fortified milk).   

The question of whether protein increases testosterone is a bit murkier. Several studies showed that a high-protein diet actually decreased testosterone levels. But researchers say those studies were based on extremely high servings of protein daily -- beyond what even people on paleo diets and athletes in training take in. It's unclear whether the amounts of protein that people typically eat make any difference.    

Keep alcohol intake moderate. Research has found heavy drinking over a long period of time can cause your body to make less testosterone. 

Get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for your good health, and it affects your testosterone. Your body makes the hormone while you sleep, and your levels are usually highest first thing in the morning. Research shows peak production happens after 3 hours of deep sleep, so make sure you get enough uninterrupted sleep to take advantage of this natural boost. A consistent lack of good-quality sleep can also lead to weight gain, which can reduce your testosterone production.  

Reduce stress. Stress causes your levels of cortisol to rise. Cortisol is a hormone that works against your testosterone. When it rises, testosterone falls. Increased cortisol levels can also cause you to overeat, which can contribute to weight gain and lowered testosterone. Find positive ways to manage stress and you may naturally increase your testosterone.   

Men aren't the only ones who may benefit from testosterone boosters.

Women and people assigned female at birth also produce testosterone. It's important for your sex drive, bone and muscle health, energy, and mood. Beyond puberty, a woman's body mainly converts it to estrogen. That's made it interesting as a possible remedy for menopause symptoms like depression, bone loss, and sexual problems.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports testosterone therapy for treating sexual dysfunction after menopause, but the FDA hasn't approved it. There aren't studies to back up using it for other symptoms. However, healthy habits that boost testosterone, like getting good sleep and exercising, certainly won't hurt.

People who are transgender or non-binary who want male-associated physical characteristics like a deeper voice and facial hair may also choose testosterone boosters. Your doctor can prescribe testosterone therapy as part of gender-affirming treatment. Check with them before you try supplements, both for safety and to make sure you'll get the results you're looking for.