SHBG: Natural Ways to Lower SHBG
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You might have a decent level of total testosterone. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean all the testosterone in your body is functioning appropriately. You see, for testosterone (or any other sex hormone) to carry out its duties, it should be biologically active and be able to enter a cell and activate its receptors.
However, these sex hormones are bound to some binding forces in our body. Almost 54% are bound by serum albumin while around 44% of the sex hormones are bound by Sex Hormone Binding Globulin or SHBG. Leaving only 1-4% of sex hormones (testosterone in the case of men) to be free or biologically active.
What is SHBG?
Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is a glycoprotein that binds the two sex hormones which are androgen and estrogen. All vertebrates except birds have SHBG in their body. The levels of SHBG deeply influence the bioavailability of sex hormones. Free testosterone floats around the bloodstream and reacts with receptors. But as SHBG binds it, obviously, it inhibits the function of testosterone.
SHBG isn't actually a bad thing though. In the case of women, low levels of SHBG have been associated with hyperandrogenism and endometrial cancer as a result of heightened exposure to androgens and estrogens. Maybe that is why SHBG levels are usually about twice as high in women than in men.
Effects of High SHBG
Apparently, high SHBG level means lower levels of free testosterone available in your bloodstream. You can expect every symptom of low testosterone in this particular condition.
- General weakness or fatigue
- Low sperm production and infertility
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hair loss
- Sexual problems or low sex drive (libido)
- Loss of muscle mass
- Increased body fat
- Decreased bone mass
What increases SHBG?
A study titled 'Diet and Sex Hormone Binding Globulin' which was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism determined the role of protein intake on SHBG levels in men. They used data from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study and examined cross-sectional relationships between dietary components and SHBG levels in 1552 men (aged 40–70 yr) for whom these factors were known. The study came to a conclusion that age and body mass index are major determinants of SHBG concentrations in older men while fiber and protein intake are also significant contributors to SHBG levels. However, total caloric intake and the intake of carbohydrate or fat are not significant.
The normal levels of SHBG
As mentioned before, SHBG is not something that needs to be avoided. Really low levels of SHBG can cause health problems such as mood swings, weight gain, and acne.
You can always lab test your blood to determine the SHBG level of your body. Such tests are usually measured in the evaluation of low testosterone (androgen deficiency) in men and also commonly used in the evaluation of women with signs and symptoms of excess male hormones.
Men naturally have lower levels of SHBG than women. Nonetheless, a man’s SHBG level will typically increase with age while his testosterone levels drop.
10 to 57 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) is considered to be the normal level of SHBG in men.
Ways to lower SHBG naturally
You must be wondering - how can I lower SHBG?
You asked the right question.
There are many ways which you can employ to lower SHBG in your body naturally without any need of surgery or alterations. There are minerals and vitamins out there that can successfully lower SHBG, in turn, releasing free testosterone.
Supplements that lower SHBG
Foods rich in Magnesium
One of the most significant features of magnesium is its ability to increase testosterone levels by lowering the amount of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in blood. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis published a study proves that magnesium can indeed inhibit SHBG.
International Journal of Andrology published a study which had a participation of three hundred and ninety-nine men all aged above 65 years to assess the relationship between magnesium and anabolic hormones such as testosterone in men. The study came to a conclusion that higher serum magnesium levels draw a parallel with higher testosterone levels.
Although there are many magnesium supplements out there available such as High Absorption Magnesium by Doctor's Best, Pure Magnesium Glycinate Powder by Bulk Supplements and Magnesium (Glycinate) by Pure Encapsulations, you can always depend on the natural sources of magnesium. Spinach, Brazil nuts, and dark chocolates are some food sources rich in magnesium.
Calcium Fructopyranose Borate
Calcium fructopyranose borate is a compound of boron, fructose, and calcium and it is naturally found in plants, and particular kinds of fruits and vegetables. Although CFB doesn't have the ability to increase testosterone levels directly, it can, however, lower the levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology published a study that proved this.
Foods rich in boron
The study published in Integrated Medicine shows boron's ability to regulate sex hormones such as testosterone. The study states that boron has androgen amplifier effects by controlling sex hormone binding globule (SHBG). In another clinical study, the researchers gave eight of their male subjects about 10 mg of boron supplement, every morning for 7 consecutive days.
The scientists analyzed their subjects' blood results from day 1 to day 7 after the completion of the week. The researchers found out that there was a significant decrease in SHBG after the boron supplementation and the mean plasma free testosterone increased while the mean plasma estradiol had decreased.
You can find a decent source of boron in natural foods like raisins, apricots, avocado, prunes and Brazil nuts.
A study published in Hormone and Metabolic Research found that vitamin D is capable of significantly reducing the levels of SHBG. Fortified orange juice, mackerel, salmon, and tuna are some good sources of vitamin D.
According to the study published in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, zinc is capable of reducing SHBG count. Research conducted back in 1982 also proved that Zinc helps in increasing testosterone. The subjects who were treated with zinc had significant improvement in libido. Some natural sources of zinc are pumpkin seed, crab, shrimp, spinach and dark chocolate.
You can try out the above mentioned proven methods to lower sex hormone binding globulin. But keep in mind that, as SBGH not only free bounded testosterone but also estrogen in your body. Nevertheless, there is nothing to worry if you have estrogen levels in check. That, we will discuss in another day.