Most people would like to do more about their health and wellness–a claim backed up by recent polling numbers where almost 90% of people said they take some kind of vitamin or supplement. And it seems like all those supplements have some kind of Vitamin B supplementation. But what is the Vitamin B really doing?
Without really trying all that hard, I found 7 “testosterone boosters” that had Vitamin B12 in them, let alone the others, like B5 and B6. Trouble was, I didn’t remember in any of my research having come across any of these as being related to the male sex hormone. So I decided to do a fresh dig, and here’s what I (re)found out.
✲ The earliest known research into the B Vitamins shows no correlation between B12 or B6 and testosterone.
✲ Some limited experimentation with testicular pain and medication-induced hormone problems revealed improvement with B12.
✲ Other aspects of B Vitamins which may influence testosterone production are also not well-founded.
B12 Key Studies
The first we’ll look at goes back several decades–but, importantly, it’s foundational science that’s still used as bedrock truth, today. In it, researchers found a link between androgenic activity and B12–but no link with testosterone, itself. (Don’t be fooled by supplement websites–there are many different androgens, of which testosterone is only one).
In more recent years we’ve had studies looking into the possible correlation of chronic testicular pain (CTP) and vitamin B12 deficiency; those scientists proposed a link, but also recommended further study. They did not go so far as to say a lack of B12 caused CTP, only that men with one may have the other, as well.
And now we come to the only, albeit thin, correlation between B12 and testosterone. There has been a link between a common ulcer medication, Cimetidine, and lowered testosterone. In this trial, rats given Cimetidine to the point that they had lowered sperm counts and testosterone levels were then given B12. Their testosterone levels did improve, but researchers did not determine that the B12 was stimulating testosterone, only that it may be mitigating the Cimetidine harms.
I wrote an article recently on how stress can limit the body’s natural testosterone production–and how by easing stress, Ashwagandha Root may improve testosterone levels. Some people have proposed similar, ancillary effects for B12, such as it can improve energy, and energy leads to exercise, which can boost testosterone.
These claims, however, are simply not founded. Medically speaking, there is no energy improvement to a person taking Vitamin B12, unless they are clinically deficient.
B6 Key Studies
First, we begin with that foundational study, which showed no correlation, again, between testosterone, and in this case, Vitamin B6. This observation has been supported by direct experimentation in humans, where performance weightlifters were supplemented with B6 and saw no change in testosterone levels.
Animal studies, however, have offered a different perspective. As far back as two decades ago, scientific literature was citing studies showing that B6-deficient rats were also testing at deficient levels of testosterone. One such direct experiment hypothesized that B6 may play a role in the reuse of androgen signallers, thereby allowing the body to produce more testosterone on cue.
The last study with any correlation was conducted on male rats kept in light-deprivation tanks, with vitamin intakes adjusted to determine effects. In the animals deprived of light and B6 testosterone levels were lower than those with adequate B6.
All of which may sound promising, but really doesn’t come to bear in human applications. After all, not too many people live in light-deprivation tanks, or actually suffer from any B6 deficiencies.
The one area where B6 has shown a significant relationship with testosterone production actually relates back to a previous article I wrote on the mineral Zinc. In a study comparing various mineral compounds and testosterone production, researchers found that the admixture of Vitamin B6 with Zinc and Magnesium did have a significant impact on the body’s ability to absorb the minerals–and those minerals do have an impact on testosterone production.
B5 Key Studies
The absolute only study I could find with any degree of credibility, like all the other studies, only showed a lower testosterone level in Vitamin B5 deficient rats. Compare that with data that shows that nearly every American is already getting enough B5 from their food sources that no supplementation is needed.
One supplement website I visited said that B5 can also support healthy weight through fat-burning, and thus increase testosterone production. It is an absolute established fact that obesity can lower testosterone, and that conversely exercise can increase it. It is also a fact that Vitamin B5 is essential to the breakdown of fatty acids.
But that breakdown of fatty acids occurs largely in digestion–taking B5 will not melt excess fat off of a midsection, and as stated earlier, most people already get enough B5 from their food.
As a health writer and nutrition expert, I always value the inclusion of vitamins and minerals that can be found in healthy foods, especially before resorting to “miracle” supplements. And all vitamins and minerals serve hundreds of vital functions throughout the body. But not all things can be fixed with a multivitamin. In this case, it appears that the three most common B Vitamins on “testosterone boosting” supplement ingredient lists are there for name-recognition–there is no compelling data that any of them can increase testosterone production.
None of which means that people shouldn’t take their vitamins–only that taking them for this is not supported by the available data.