If you watch television or read magazines, then you probably know about the issue of low testosterone and the way that it affects men’s lives, particularly their libido and energy levels.
You may even have read Nugenix reviews or heard about various other testosterone boosters that are currently on the market.
Based on the marketing, these supplements may seem like a great idea.
They’re supposed to help men feel so much better overall.
But, are these claims realistic?
In this post, I take a scientific look at precisely what Nugenix offers. I also look at whether there is truth behind the company’s claims or whether it all just boils down to hype and marketing.
Testosterone and Nugenix
The concept of Nugenix is simple, it’s a way to increase testosterone. Marketing for the product focuses on the idea of ‘feeling like a man’ and concepts that low testosterone can contribute to issues like low energy, weight gain and low libido.
In fact, testosterone is critical for overall health, as well as for muscle growth and fat loss (1). There is also some evidence that testosterone levels are lower in men in the modern day, partly because of diet and lifestyle (2,3).
However, it isn’t entirely clear how prevalent or how significant this decrease in testosterone is. Likewise, it isn’t clear whether or not testosterone supplements are the answer.
Despite this, testosterone supplements tend to be heavily promoted and many people are confident that these are worth taking.
Marketing suggests that increasing testosterone has huge impacts on how men feel and this is why many people end up taking Nugenix or similar supplements
The Case of Nugenix
Nugenix is specifically designed to act as a testosterone booster – and you may have seen ads or marketing for the company before.
The products are subject to a lot of hype and the company makes it sound like the supplements can revolutionize your life.
It all sounds wonderful and the testimonials that are on the site also suggest that the supplements really do work.
But, do they?
As I mentioned, the evidence behind testosterone benefits is extremely limited. For that matter, it’s hard to know whether or not testosterone supplements even help to increase testosterone levels.
So, in this post, we’re going to take a hard look at the various reviews, the supplements themselves and the science behind Nugenix.
We’re also going to touch on the idea of testosterone supplementing in general. After all, the whole argument behind Nugenix is that men may need to increase their testosterone levels. But, how relevant is that claim really?
Testosterone Deficiency and the Low-T Boom
All of the marketing for Nugenix and similar products has created an interesting situation, known as a low-T boom (short for low testosterone boom).
Because of a loophole in regulations, marketers have been able to tell people to talk to their physicians if they have any ‘possible signs’ of testosterone deficiency. This has created huge interest in the idea of testosterone deficiency and has led to many inquiries.
This sounds like a good thing but the symptoms of testosterone deficiency are fairly non-specific. For example, this is the list that comes up from a basic search on Google.
At the same time, tiredness and low libido are also often promoted as symptoms. Yet, most of these symptoms could be caused by a large range of different things.
Furthermore, if you ask men if they ‘feel tired’ or have low libido many may say yes, simply because they have stressful lives or even because they just aren’t getting enough rest.
So, for the most part, the low-T boom doesn’t seem to match up to the actual levels of low testosterone. Instead, many men may have some of the symptoms but for other reasons.
Marketing for testosterone supplements has made low testosterone appear much more prevalent than it actually is
Now, you can be deficient in just about any nutrient or hormone, including testosterone (4).
If you are deficient in testosterone, then testosterone supplementation does make a lot more sense. In fact, arguably, you shouldn’t be taking testosterone supplements if you aren’t deficient.
Because testosterone does play a role on health, making sure you have enough of the hormone is important.
However, there are debates about just how prevalent testosterone deficiency actually is. Much of the marketing for products like Nugenix implies that this type of deficiency is extremely common and needs to be remedied.
But, the evidence isn’t so clear.
One good indication of this is a study in the British Medical Journal, which found the following levels of testosterone deficiency (5):
- 0.1% of men in their 40s
- 0.6% of men in their 50s
- 3.2% of men in their 60s
- 5.1% of men in their 70s
Overall, the study estimated that levels of testosterone only fall by between 1-2% per year after around 40 years of age (6).
Longitudinal research on the topic has suggested that the decrease in testosterone levels is around 1.5% to 1.6% per year, while the levels of free testosterone (the form that is readily available to the body) fall by between 2% and 3% each year (7,8).
One study also suggested that around 20% of men above 60 have total levels of testosterone that are lower than the normal range (9).
However, that figure did also take into account men with conditions that lower testosterone, rather than healthy men only.
As such, the number of healthy men with low testosterone isn’t likely to be as high as these estimates suggest.
In theory, declines of 1.6% per year do add up over time and they mean that testosterone does naturally decrease with age. But, collectively, these figures suggest that low testosterone isn’t nearly as significant as marketing for testosterone supplements implies.
Yet, marketing for these supplements is often targeted at men in their 30s and their 40s, even though it seems clear that most won’t really need the testosterone.
At best, using testosterone supplements to boost testosterone is an unproven technique. The lack of evidence surrounding these supplements means that they may not offer many benefits for most people, especially as many of those who take them may not actually be low in testosterone.
Research suggests that actual testosterone deficiency isn't as common as you might expect and many of those targeted won't be deficient in testosterone
Should You Supplement Testosterone?
The patterns of testosterone decline over time suggest that, for the most part, there isn’t an epidemic of low testosterone because of our modern diets and lifestyles. Instead, the decrease in testosterone may simply be connected to aging in general or to specific health conditions.
In fact, many of the issues that people associate with testosterone may be caused by other factors entirely (10).
This suggests that if you are having serious issues with fatigue, with sex drive or are having erectile issues – supplementing testosterone (in any form) isn’t likely to be the answer.
Instead, the first step should be to talk to your doctor and figure out what’s going on. After all, supplementing testosterone isn’t likely to help at all if low testosterone isn’t even your issue.
Now, one alternative may be to try the supplements for a while and see whether they help you. However, I’d suggest being wary about doing so. With supplements, it’s very easy to convince yourself that they are being effective, even if that’s not actually the case.
Many symptoms for testosterone deficiency can also be caused by other health issues
The Evidence Behind Nugenix
So, what about Nugenix itself?
Does the supplement actually help with boosting testosterone and is it worth trying out?
Well, despite the hype surrounding it, there isn’t actually much evidence supporting Nugenix. For one thing, there hasn’t been any research into the actual supplement as a whole.
However, there has been some research into one of its components, the compound Testofen. Specifically, there have been two main studies, one in 2011 and one in 2016.
Each of these studies did find that men felt better after taking the supplement, including improvements in sexual function and in energy (11,12). Yet, the studies actually failed to show a significant increase in testosterone as a result of the supplementation.
So, the key outcome of the studies was simply that men felt better. As outcomes go, that’s not particularly powerful.
Yet, the marketing for Nugenix makes these outcomes sound amazing.
You’ll notice that the marketing doesn’t even mention the lack of changes in testosterone levels. For that matter ‘greater satisfaction’ and ‘more energetic’ aren’t very specific terms, so there is no indication of how much of an increase the participants felt.
As a whole, this evidence is extremely limited, especially as you would expect to find a significant increase in testosterone levels.
Additionally, there simply hasn’t been enough research to draw any solid conclusions. Simply having two decent studies on the topic isn’t enough information. Besides, these studies only focus on the benefits of Testofen. That begs the question, why not just take Testofen itself, instead of Nugenix?
Beyond these studies, the only evidence that Nugenix provides for the product’s effectiveness is references to potential benefits of increasing testosterone. However, that information tends to be mostly meaningless – because there isn’t even any proof that Nugenix actually increases testosterone.
To me, that is the most concerning thing of all.
Most evidence for Nugenix comes from studies on Testofen and even those studies were extremely limited and don't offer much evidence at all
While there hasn’t been any research on Nugenix itself, there is still a lot that we can learn by looking at the compounds that it contains. The individual ingredients of any supplement play a role in the overall effects that the supplement has.
Looking at the ingredients of Nugenix is a little bit complicated because there are now multiple versions, which you can see in the image below from GNC. Each of these individual products has their own set of ingredients.
For the first product, the Testosterone Booster, the ingredients list is:
So here, the key components seem to be vitamin B6, vitamin B12, Zinc, Fenugreek seed extract and Nugenix Free Testosterone Complex.
For the Ultimate Testosterone, the ingredients look like:
This supplement also contains the Fenugreek extract, although the rest of the ingredients are different. In this case, there is a much stronger reliance on herb-based ingredients. Here, the tablets are also targeted at people wanting to boost their gym outcomes.
Finally, for the PM-ZMA testosterone booster, the ingredients list is:
The list here is similar to the first product, although this one is also designed to promote deep sleep (which is the reason for the melatonin).
Now, I’m not going to focus on every single ingredient in this discussion but I do want to look at the main ones.
Each variation of Nugenix has its own combination of ingredients
Testofen (Fenugreek Seed Extract)
I mentioned Testofen earlier in this post. Basically, Testofen is a branded version of Fenugreek seed extract and there is a little bit of evidence supporting the benefits of this supplement for sexual outcomes and energy. Yet, the evidence didn’t actually support the idea that Testofen promotes a significant increase in testosterone.
Testofen is also used as the key ingredient in other testosterone supplements and you can also buy Fenugreek seed extract on its own for a fraction of the price of testosterone boosters.
Overall, this is the ingredient that has been studied the most for testosterone boosting. Yet, the outcomes of that research haven’t been very impressive at all. That doesn’t inspire much confidence in Nugenix as a supplement.
Testofen is the main active ingredient in Nugenix but there still isn't that much evidence supporting its effectiveness in increasing testosterone
The connection between zinc and testosterone is mostly a weak one – and seems to be based mostly on one fairly old study. In that study, the authors found that zinc deficiency could reduce testosterone (13).
With that in mind, the zinc in the supplements probably wouldn’t have that much of an impact.
On a side note, one version of Nugenix contained ZMA, which is a combination of zinc, magnesium and aspartate. Although this compound is sometimes associated with boosting testosterone, research has failed to prove that outcome (15,16).
While zinc deficiency may decrease testosterone most people probably get enough zinc
Vitamins B12 and B6
The B vitamins are generally viewed as important for health and you often find them in supplements designed to boost energy.
However, neither vitamin B12 or B6 actually do this, unless you are actually deficient in those vitamins.
If you’re concerned about deficiency with any vitamins or minerals, you can always have a doctor check. Realistically though, most people are unlikely to be deficient.
Vitamins B12 and B6 also don't appear to increase testosterone directly and most people probably aren't deficient in these either
One other observation is that the quantities of these ingredients tend to be on the low side. For example, there are some reviewers out there that believe in the potential of the ingredients in these supplements, even though those benefits haven’t been proven. Yet, even those reviewers don’t recommend Nugenix, specifically because of the low doses. For example:
Overall, there simply isn’t much evidence that Nugenix could boost testosterone.
From the company’s marketing, the key ingredient for that effect seems to be the Fenugreek extract. But, the evidence for this extract is actually extremely shaky. Plus, this extract is something that you can purchase on its own – so why spend so much money on Nugenix?
Even if the compounds in Nugenix may actually help increase testosterone, some writers suggest that the concentrations are too low to have any significant impact
Nugenix Side Effects and Risks
As a general rule, the ingredients of Nugenix doesn’t indicate that there would be any major side effects from the supplement. One study did show that in rats the compound Tribulus contributed to reduced blood sugar levels (17). However, similar results haven’t been found in humans.
That same study also found that the compound was associated with increased prostate size. But, the dosage per kilogram in the study was much higher than you would typically find in supplements and, once again, similar evidence hasn’t been found in humans (18).
The one other potential side effects come from the fenugreek, which may have the potential to reduce levels of blood sugar and to thin blood (19,20,21). For most people, this isn’t likely to be an issue. But, if you have diabetes or are on blood thinners, you may want to avoid Nugenix or at least talk to your doctor first.
Beyond these areas, there aren’t any major side effects associated with Nugenix.
Nevertheless, the entire purpose of the supplement is to increase testosterone, although it’s questionable whether Nugenix actually achieves this role.
But, testosterone is a pretty significant hormone in the body and can have a range of effects. As such, there is the potential for side effects from increased testosterone. For example, higher-than-normal levels of testosterone can contribute to an increase in risky behavior (22).
That pattern can be particularly concerning in older men, because as people age their body tends to become frailer. This means that an increase in risk-taking behavior could easily lead to more injuries.
There have also been some other issues associated with supplementing testosterone.
For example, some studies have found that methods of boosting testosterone have been associated with side effects, including increased risk of heart attacks (23), prostate cancer and blood clots (24). Furthermore, some products (particularly gels) may also affect pets and family members (25).
Nevertheless, for the most part, those side effects aren’t connected to supplements like Nugenix, but to gels or testosterone therapy. As such, Nugenix may be safer overall.
Nugenix itself has relatively few potential risks or side effects, although there are some additional risks associated with increasing testosterone. Nevertheless, as Nugenix doesn't even appear to increase testosterone much (or at all), the risks are likely to be minimal
Nugenix is fairly easy to buy and the main sources are either GNC or Amazon. Surprisingly, you can’t buy the product directly from the company, although they do offer a sample. However, pay close attention to the terms and conditions when you make any purchases.
In particular, some Nugenix reviewers have noted that the company tends to sign you up for autoship, whether you want that or not. This means that you automatically get a new supply of the supplement each month and are charged for it. That practice is frustrating, especially for people who just wanted to try out the product.
If you’re interested in the supplement, you can try it out on the site for free (although you do have to pay around $5 for shipping and handling). The free sample is for a 14-day supply and could be a good way to test the supplement out.
The pricing differs a little depending on where you buy the supplements from, but the image below comes from GNC and it’s a good example of what you can expect.
With these supplements, the recommended dose is 3 or 4 pills per day. So, for the most part, one bottle is going to last you roughly a month.
With that in mind, you’re paying between $69.99 and $89.99 for a month’s worth of supplements (with the exception of the booster, but that works a bit differently).
Regardless of which product you pick, that’s a lot of money to be paying per month. That price might be worth it if the pills actually lived up to their claims. But honestly, it’s debatable whether they do or not.
You just have to look at the reviews to see that pattern.
Nugenix can easily be purchased online but is very expensive for a monthly supply
With so little research surrounding Nugenix, it’s hard to be confident about the supplement’s effects. However, reviews from actual users can often provide valuable information. Most of the time, you’ll find that customers are pretty quick to complain when a product doesn’t live up to expectations.
This is evident when it comes to the basic testosterone booster that Nugenix produces. On the GNC site, this supplement averages just 3.5 stars across 123 reviews.
The product doesn’t do much better on Amazon. The review distribution isn't encouraging either.
If you ever see reviews like this for any product, be wary. That distribution is common for scam products and for products where it’s hard to tell whether they had any effect.
In most cases, you’ll find that the 5-star ratings are mostly people promoting the products or those who convince themselves that they are seeing results. For example, the image below is one positive review from the GNC website.
Personally, I hate reviews like that, as they tell you absolutely nothing.
In contrast, many of the negative reviews are much more useful.
I’m not going to go into the other versions of Nugenix that are produced because the same pattern was present across all of them. Basically, a large number of people notice little to no benefit from the supplement, while some others appear very enthusiastic but can’t even give a clear reason why.
With products like this, you’ll find that the effects vary from one person to the next. Likewise, reviews also majorly vary simply because people expect different things.
Additionally, unless you are testing testosterone, it’s difficult to know whether a supplement like this is working anyway. In most cases, people will look for outcomes like increased energy or improved libido.
But, those are subjective measures.
Could you honestly tell whether your energy was higher one day to the next? Most people can’t. Instead, they may think that they have more energy, simply because they expect to.
However, it is worth noting that despite these issues, the product may actually work for some people. For example, if you were deficient in some of the nutrients included, then the product could potentially help increase your testosterone. Likewise, if you have extremely low levels of testosterone, the product might do something.
Nevertheless, that isn’t going to be the case for most people.
Instead, most will find that the supplements do very little. That’s to be expected, as there isn’t much evidence that the supplements increase testosterone anyway.
Finally, in some cases, the positive responses may not be connected to the idea of testosterone boosting at all. Instead, the observed benefits may be associated with the other compounds – especially if people were deficient in one or more of them.
For the most part, Nugenix reviews suggest that the supplements don't live up to the hype
Promoting Optimal Health and Increasing Testosterone
The idea of popping a pill to make our bodies function better is an extremely appealing concept.
So, it’s a bit of a pity that the real world doesn’t work that way. Instead, there are very few pills that live up to their hype.
But, even then, the supplements are only useful for people who don't get enough omega 3 or vitamin D, respectively, from other sources.
In some cases, pills can even be counterproductive.
For example, antioxidants tend to be viewed as important compounds for our health and there is a decent amount of research supporting that theory. Yet, evidence also suggests that antioxidant supplements tend to be ineffective and may even be dangerous (26). Likewise, multivitamin supplements tend to be ineffective, except in the rare cases where people are deficient in key vitamins or minerals (27,28).
A similar effect is true for testosterone supplements.
This means that supplements like Nugenix won’t actually help most people. This may be why feedback often isn't that positive. Realistically, the supplement is only likely to help if you have low testosterone and even then, its effectiveness is debatable.
So, you should only be considering this supplement if your testosterone level is low.
Even then, any type of testosterone supplement is basically an attempt to fix the symptom, not the underlying problem. Plus, there is little evidence that products like Nugenix actually work, so you may just end up wasting your money.
As a whole, the human body is complex and there is a lot we don’t know about the way it functions, including why hormone levels are sometimes low. In some cases, this means that even doctors may not know why your testosterone levels are low.
However, the first place to look isn’t in pills but in your diet and lifestyle as a whole.
In many cases, people simply aren’t getting enough nutrients as part of their diets, especially if they rely on heavily processed foods.
Too few nutrients can be a significant issue and you may find that your body tends to use those on short-term outcomes, rather than long-term optimal functions.
This is very relevant for testosterone, because the production of hormones relies on other nutrients. So, if you are lacking in those nutrients, your testosterone levels may be considerably lower than they should be.
As such, if you’re concerned about testosterone levels, one of the first steps to take is to make sure you have a healthy diet and lifestyle. Not only can this help with testosterone but it can also be significant in promoting health overall.
Beyond this, there are also some other techniques that are sometimes promoted as ways to increase testosterone. For example, some people talk about weight loss as one way to do so, while others talk about exercising, particularly exercising large muscle groups.
In fact, many people who have symptoms of low testosterone actually just need to lose weight to bring their testosterone back to normal. Doing so is much more effective (and safer) than supplementing with testosterone (29).
Now, if you have a healthy diet and lifestyle but are still concerned about testosterone levels, then the answer is going to come from your doctor, not from an over-the-counter supplement.
One reason for this is that the supplement industry is poorly regulated, so there is always a risk that you’re not actually getting what you pay for. At the same time, if you want to increase your testosterone, you would want to be monitoring it at the same time, along with monitoring other changes in your body. This is something that you can’t do easily on your own.
Having a healthy diet and lifestyle along with losing weight may be much more relevant than testosterone supplements for boosting testosterone. Plus, these approaches help to improve overall health as well
Does Nugenix Work?
Like many supplements on the market, Nugenix makes large promises and fails to live up to them. For most people, the supplement simply won’t have any effect on testosterone levels or on health. Instead, you just end up paying a lot of money to get nowhere.
Realistically, you should take the time to find out what your testosterone level is before you even consider taking Nugenix. After all, your symptoms could be caused by something else entirely. In many cases, you may find that you see many more benefits from having a healthy diet and lifestyle, or from losing weight.
Even if you do have low testosterone, Nugenix may not be the answer – especially as there is no solid evidence that the supplement (or its ingredients) actually helps to increase testosterone levels.
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