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June 19, 2008

Can Whey Protein Isolate Prevent Age-Related Decline in Testosterone Levels?

OldermanWe all know that taking in sufficient amounts of high-quality protein is important to building or maintaining muscle mass. But recent research published in the journal Endocrinology indicates that certain proteins may be able to support muscle building, not only by providing the “building blocks” of muscle tissue, but also by supporting proper hormone production as we age.

Oxidative Stress, Aging, and Hormones

In the Integrated Supplements Blog and Newsletter we’ve taken a close look at the underlying role oxidative stress plays in all facets of the aging process. Under conditions of oxidative stress, the free radicals which run amok in the aging body can inflict particularly extensive damage to the body’s delicate hormonal system. As we age, our youth-associated hormones begin to decline, and despite what many people have been led to believe, this phenomenon may have less to do with any innate “biological clock,” and more to do with our accumulated burden of free radical damage.

Glutathione and Testosterone

As one of our bodies’ most potent antioxidants, the tripeptide molecule glutathione represents a significant weapon in our battle against oxidative stress. But could increasing our levels of glutathione actually be enough to ward off the hormonal changes of aging?

According to recent research, the answer may be yes.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied the effects of glutathione depletion on testosterone-producing cells (called Leydig cells) in both young and old rats.

The researchers found that indeed, depleting glutathione levels in these cells reduced the rats’ testosterone production by about 40%. When antioxidants were administered, testosterone production was maintained at normal levels, and when a compound was administered specifically to boost intracellular glutathione, testosterone levels actually increased in the test animals.

Study Link - Effect of glutathione depletion on Leydig cell steroidogenesis in young and old brown Norway rats.

Quote from the above study:

The results of these studies, taken together, are consistent with the hypothesis that alteration in the oxidant/antioxidant environment may play a significant, causative role in the age-related reduced ability of Leydig cells to produce testosterone.

Glutathione Does What LH Can’t

The results of the above study shed new light on exactly why our hormonal production changes as we age. It used to be thought that males’ age-related decline in testosterone levels was a result of a decrease in the production of a pituitary hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH). Luteinizing hormone is the hormone which stimulates the cells of the testis to produce testosterone.

But in a previous study by some of the same researchers, the group examined whether supplying exogenous luteinizing hormone would cause the Leydig cells of aging rats to produce increased amounts of testosterone. Their thinking was that if a decline in LH was responsible for testosterone decline, then surely supplying the lacking LH would boost testosterone levels in aging animals – but it didn’t. The LH they administered had almost no effect whatsoever in stimulating testosterone production in aged rats.

Study Link - Does age-associated reduced Leydig cell testosterone production in Brown Norway rats result from under-stimulation by luteinizing hormone?

Quote from the above study:

The inability of exogenously administered LH to increase testosterone production by testes and Leydig cells of aged rats suggests that Leydig cell steroidogenic deficits in the aged Brown Norway rat are unlikely to be the result of age-related changes in LH.

So, if antioxidant compounds and compounds which boost the antioxidant glutathione are able to boost testosterone better than LH itself, this is clear evidence that the cellular damage of oxidative stress really throws a monkey wrench into our bodies’ ability to produce testosterone as we age.

And from this research, we can garner that our efforts to maintain our youthful hormone levels should first focus on reducing our level of oxidative stress, by supplying our body with an antioxidant-rich diet, including direct glutathione precursors like those found in undenatured CFM® Whey Protein Isolate.

Could Whey Protein Isolate Help Testosterone-Boosting Supplements Work Better?

Many herbal supplements containing an herb called tribulus terrestris are advertised for their ability to increase testosterone levels. And although some of the marketing claims made for tribulus-containing products can be more than a bit exaggerated (you don’t really believe what you read in bodybuilding magazines, do you?), quality preparations of the herb do seem to stimulate a modest increase in testosterone levels in some people.

The limited amount of research available on tribulus seems to indicate that the herb likely increases testosterone production by stimulating the release of luteinizing hormone from the pituitary.

But if we know that the testosterone-producing cells of the testis don’t respond well to increases in LH in aging animals, this could help to explain why tribulus products often don’t perform well in those who need them the most – people suffering from age-related testosterone decline.

So, perhaps those aging athletes and weekend warriors, who are looking to boost their testosterone levels naturally, could notice an improved response from their testosterone-boosting supplements by supplying their body with CFM® Whey Protein Isolate.

Of course, CFM® doesn’t stimulate hormonal production directly, it may simply help to supply some of the glutathione-precursors needed to optimize hormonal production hampered by excessive free radical damage to delicate hormone-producing cells.

As new studies like those posted above continue to reinforce what we at Integrated Supplements have been saying all along, the big picture of health keeps becoming clearer for those of us willing to examine the research.

And if you still buy your supplements from a company that doesn’t examine the research, or that doesn’t see the big picture, or that doesn’t care about your long-term health, you’d better get on board with one who does. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.

Stay tuned here for more.

Related Articles:

Rancid Fats and Oxidative Stress - Strategies To Reverse Aging - Part 1

Combating Oxidative Stress - Strategies to Reverse Aging - Part 2

The Anti-Aging Diet Part 1 - Can Some Foods Accelerate Aging?

Select Studies on Whey Protein - Whey Protein, Blood Sugar, and Oxidative Stress

Is Exercise More Harmful Than You Think? How To Protect Yourself With Whey Protein Isolate.

Oxidative Stress And Exercise - Too Much of a "Good Thing"

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