Testosterone is the predominant 'male' hormone and converts into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that is vital for male sexual characteristics such as a deep voice, male-pattern body hair, and penile erection. Lack of sufficient testosterone leads to a reduction in sex drive and potency, as well as various other effects such as lack of proper sleep. Testosterone is vital for the cardiovascular system, weight management, and neural function. It also promotes proper bone density and memory function.
In the USA, endocrinologists tend to judge adequate levels of hormones according to whether or not blood levels are within the “normal reference range” which is established by means of a Gaussian distribution, otherwise known as the bell curve. Unfortunately, people’s normal base-level production of testosterone (and other hormones) do not always follow the standard distribution curve. If a man previously had a naturally high level of testosterone production (which is very common in athletes, for example) then he may be suffering from low testosterone even if his blood level appears to be within “normal” range. It is essential, therefore, for physicians to pay more attention to symptoms and not rely on default interpretation of the values derived from blood panels.
Testosterone is derived from the androgen precursor hormone DHEA, and so regular dietary supplementation with DHEA can often lead to an increase in levels of testosterone, which will increase energy, muscle mass, and reduce feelings of depression. For men whose testosterone levels are extremely low, treatment with testosterone cream or injectable gel may be necessary in order to “jump-start” more adequate production assisted by dietary supplementation with DHEA.