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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Association of hypogonadism with vitamin D status

A recent darling diagnosis is male menopause. Just like women, males experience dramatic reductions in testosterone as they age, a condition recently labeled male menopause. As vitamin D levels fall with aging, I have wondered how many of the hormones that decrease with aging do so because vitamin D levels decline with aging.

Last month, Dr. David Lee from the University of Manchester and 18 colleagues looked at the relationship between testosterone and vitamin D levels in more than 3,000 men. Before they overcorrected their data, they not only found higher vitamin D levels mean higher testosterone levels but that low vitamin D levels are associated with higher female hormone in these men. This could explain why men, as they age, look more and more like women.

Lee DM, Tajar A, Pye SR, Boonen S, Vanderschueren D, Bouillon R, O’Neill TW, Bartfai G, Casanueva FF, Finn JD, Forti G, Giwercman A, Han TS, Huhtaniemi I, Kula K, Lean ME, Pendleton N, Punab M, Wu F. Association of hypogonadism with vitamin D status: the European Male Ageing Study. Eur J Endocrinol. 2011 Nov 2.

We know Dr. Lee and his colleagues overcorrected their data because a randomized control trial showed that even relatively low doses of vitamin D (3,300 IU/day in obese men) for a year resulted in 30-40% increases in testosterone levels.

Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, Kuhn J, Dreier J, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Wehr E, Zittermann A. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5.

The importance of these findings, for both men and women are hard to overstate. Low testosterone levels are associated with early death, mostly from cardiovascular disease and for women, a live partner is one of the keys to a healthy marriage.

The next stop is to test HCG, DHEA, pregnenolone, and thyroid hormone to see if vitamin D, in meaningful doses, has an effect on these hormones that also decline with aging. You could wait ten years for the studies or take 5,000 IU/day while we are waiting. I recommend the latter.

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.

5 Responses to Association of hypogonadism with vitamin D status

  1. JBG says:

    The matter is orthogonal to the subject of the post, but this statement, “…for women, a live partner is one of the keys to a healthy marriage” is not supported by the data. (Well, literally it is, because to have a marriage of any kind, a woman must have a husband. But the force of the statement, and presumably its intended force, is that a live husband is good for a wife’s health. It appears not to be so. (The opposite, a wife being supportive of a husband’s health, definitely does appear to be true.) Here is a report from Ch 13 of The Longevity Project by Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin

    “Overall, of course, the women outlived the men. Not only that, but the widowed women tended to thrive – they lived longer than the still-married women. In fact, many widowed women went on to live exceptionally long lives.”

  2. Rita and Misty says:

    Readers from all over the world somehow find their way to my FB and Linkedin pages, and they often ask me timely and pertinent questions regarding vitamin D. Last night, a middle-aged man contacted me regarding vitamin D deficiency and sagging male libido. I found his question particularly relevant right now, because as at least in the USA, it is hard to watch television without noticing an advertisement for prescription testosterone. These commercials focus on testosterone replacement for men; however, it is important to note that a woman’s body also requires testosterone for stamina, vitality and happiness (yes, happiness).

    I pause when I hear about hormonal therapy. In my own life, I did not have much success with direct replacement of the hormones Estrogen, Testosterone, and Progesterone. As a matter of fact, I felt quite ill when on these supplements. I have had far superior luck with my hormones since correcting my 25(OH)D level to optimal. As a matter of fact, at 49 years of age, I barely have any peri-menopausal symptoms whatsoever.

    Does vitamin D increase libido? That is a good question.

    I think an optimal vitamin D level makes you healthier. And healthy folks have a better sex drive (at every age and stage of life) than sick folks. But, libido is a complicated matter. And part of it is a mind-set as well as a physical thing (certainly for women, but even for men brave enough to admit this). I also think a healthy libido requires magnesium, iodine, boron and zinc (especially these two latter supplements) and in much higher doses than the RDA.

    But, what do I know? I am only an experiment of one, and I can only say that since following my own protocol I hum. ☺

    I would like to leave all of you men (and women) with the following point to consider. Libido is important to vitality, creativity and happiness. Though certainly is may wane with age (for both sexes), to have it disappear in totality is a sign of ill health.

    Here is some interesting info on low T and men:

    • There’s a medical problem out there that isn’t spoken enough about that has begun to effect men — even in their early thirties.
    • ince it’s not a part of regular bloodwork for your physical, ask for your testosterone levels to be checked regularly.
    • It’s not just about decreasing muscle mass and little to no libido (and that would be enough right there) … it’s much more than that: Low T causes severe depression when not treated.
    • Severe symptoms include: low libido, confusion, irrational thoughts, behavioral changes, lack of proper hygiene, irritability, low self-esteem, no energy, changes in your appearance, social issues, you feel “desperate” and make desperate decisions.
    • You don’t do the things that make/made you happy anymore,
    • you push people away, snap for no reason, spend too much time on over-analyzing and have negative thoughts.
    • You have no energy.
    • You cannot cope well with problems (lack of employment,etc.) at all,
    • you hate when the phone rings and find it hard when your mate is affectionate, because you cant give them the same in return due to your lack of libido.
    • You make poor decisions…and many times can’t decide at all

    (there is no reason to live like this)

  3. MarkfromMD says:


    I’m 65 and I’ve been struggling with low/poor libido and highly erratic erectile function for several years. Been on and off several forms of testosterone(currently back on shots). I also have untreatable rapid cycling bipolar illness. And my wife and I(married 20 years)have had a quite difficult marriage because of her erratic moods, alcohol addiction(runs in her family) and ambivalence about sex.

    I put much effort into slowing down my physical and psychiatric decline, with vitamin D & K2 now playing a more important role. Due to dealing with 9 years of a monthly recurring upper respiratory infection, I’m up to 15,000 IU and 2mg K2, daily. Seemed to help my mood for a few weeks, then I crashed, but I’m suspecting some kind of die off is taking place. My wife has no interest in trying anything and only follows the conservative and mainstream orders of her primary physician. So it goes.

  4. Rita Celone Umile says:

    What has your physician prescribed for your rapid cycling bipolar disorder? Psychiatric medicines are very tough on the body, especially in terms of weight gain, increasing blood pressure, and perhaps also wreaking havoc on insulin and glucose levels. Lithium, I think, is one of the safer drugs for this disorder. Topiramate may also be helpful, and has the added benefit of not having those nasty side effects I mention above. Additionally (and I’m certain you know this), there is a low T/manic depression correlation. So, correcting for T deficiency should help you stabilize your moods. Good for you for taking care of your health. Perhaps as your health improves, your wife will take notice and join in your journey towards better health. I with both of you well. :)

  5. Rita Celone Umile says:

    Mark, also, in your situation I would find a physician knowledgeable in subclinical hypothyroidism. Thyroid health is essential if good mental health is desired.