How do I know if my testosterone levels are normal?

Q: I’ve read your views on testosterone therapy. And how men with normal levels are being treated and shouldn’t be. But what are the normal testosterone levels for a man in his 30s or 40s? Surely a man in his 70s shouldn’t have the same levels as a man in his 30s or 40s? — M.M., Gary, IN

Dr. Micozzi: You’re absolutely correct: It is not normal to have the testosterone level of a 30- or 40-year-old when you are 70. It’s normal that testosterone declines with advancing age.

According to a 1999 study, the average testosterone level for middle-age men is 600-650 ng/dl.[1] Once men hit age 30, their testosterone levels naturally drop by about 1 percent per year.

But as I have written about in previous issues of Insiders’ Cures, this natural decline may well help protect men against increasing risk of heart and prostate disease as they age.

Which is why testosterone therapy and other attempts to artificially reverse the natural course of healthy aging are fraught with peril—not to mention unnecessary expense. That’s not just my view, but the view of many medical and scientific experts who serve on FDA review committees and state medical boards (including the New Jersey board I’ve advised). It’s also the opinion of many professional medical societies and practicing physicians (at least the ones who do not profit from handing out artificial hormone treatments).

The human body knows best. It produces testosterone when men need it most. And it naturally lets up a bit as men get older. So we should stop fixating on “hormone replacement” by artificial methods…in other words, men don’t automatically need to use dangerous patches and gels just to replace naturally waning testosterone.

However, there is no reason you shouldn’t look at ways to support the body’s natural, healthy aging process. When you do that, natural hormone production in men stays stronger, longer.

For men, eating right with adequate protein…keeping up with regular, light-to-moderate exercise…maintaining lean muscle…and getting plenty of sleep can help support natural testosterone levels. This approach just makes sense. And you will help keep your “young man” hormones at the right levels.

Plus, last year, researchers discovered that men who took a safe and inexpensive supplement naturally made more of their own testosterone. Men who took this supplement also enjoyed markedly increased physical strength and performance after just two to three months! They also improved their gait, which is the single best predictor of longevity.

You can learn more about this safe and effective way to support natural testosterone production in the February 2014 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter.

[1] “Testosterone and men’s health,” Journal of Behavioral Medicine 1999; 22(1): 1-19