“At least 90 percent of women I see in my clinic suffer from fatigue and other draining symptoms due to low testosterone,” says holistic gynecologist Shawn Tassone, MD, PhD, author of The Hormone Balance Bible. Despite its reputation as a male hormone, testosterone plays crucial roles in female brain function, mood regulation, and more. But women’s production of the hormone declines by 50 percent from age 20 to 40, causing symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, and loss of libido.
Adding to the problem: Menopause can lower testosterone output even further. And as Dr. Tassone notes, chronic stress can magnify shortfalls, since high cortisol levels impede testosterone production.
Doctors can order blood tests to measure testosterone and may advise hormone therapy. But Dr. Tassone says even levels at the low end of “normal” can cause fatigue. And given how common deficits are, all women can benefit from the two easy, all-natural steps below.
Up your vitamin D intake.
Vitamin D increases female testosterone levels by 48 percent, according to findings in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Dr. Tassone advises eating vitamin D-rich foods like egg yolks, tuna, and fortified nut milks daily and incorporating shellfish, grass-fed beef, chickpeas, cashews, and mushrooms as the zinc they supply also boosts testosterone.
Also smart: Sip eight ounces of pomegranate juice every day. A 2013 study showed that doing so augmented visual and verbal memory and improved overall functional brain activity.
Lower your stress level.
Taming stress can optimize testosterone. Dr. Tassone suggests performing Andrew Weil, MD’s 4-7-8 breathing technique (find instructional videos on YouTube) in the morning, evening, and anytime stress mounts.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.