Vitamin A and testosterone: retinoids, carotenoids and hormones

Good day, dear readers! The male sex hormone testosterone performs important functions in the human body. There is a definite relationship between testosterone deficiency and various diseases. Both medicinal and natural methods can be used to increase testosterone levels . One of the natural methods of increasing testosterone levels is the use of vitamin A, as well as food containing this vitamin.

Vitamin A is not a single compound, but a group of active unsaturated molecules, including retinal, retinol and retinoic acids, as well as many provitamin A carotenoids , such as α-carotene, β-carotene, lutein and lycopene, which in the body turn into active vitamin A.

The recommended daily intake for vitamin A for a normal-sized man is about 900–3000 µg / day of retinal, retinol, or retinoic acid, or about 12–24 times more carotenoids, since they have significantly lower bioavailability in the human body, and are also poorer sources of active vitamin.

Vitamin A is also noted as one of “24 essential vitamins and minerals for human survival.” This is true because without a sufficient amount of vitamin A, problems with vision and the immune system can arise, not to mention the fact that it can lead to infertility , difficulties in absorbing food fat in the body (which, in turn, can cause enormous damage for the whole body).

How does vitamin A affect testosterone levels?

Vitamin A and Testosterone Production

There is not much research on the effects of vitamin A on male testosterone levels. However, several studies have shown a positive relationship between the production of vitamin and testosterone.

Vitamin A is contained in the Sertoli cells of the male testicles in the form of the retina and, if necessary, can be converted to a more biologically active form: retinoic acid. In rodent studies, it was also found that if there is no active vitamin A in the testicles, the testosterone level drops rapidly, and the estrogen level rises.

If the body is deficient in vitamin A, then it will not be able to properly use dietary fat for many of the processes occurring in it. Since the proper intake of the right fats is one of the most important stages of testosterone production, vitamin A deficiency is likely to adversely affect testosterone production.

In addition, the body uses a compound  transferrin  to transfer cholesterolmolecules into Leydig cells of the testes to turn them into testosterone. Without vitamin A, the body cannot synthesize  transferrin , and the transport of the main precursor of testosterone is impaired.

  1. a) There is ample evidence that vitamin A is an integral part of the male reproductive function, since sperm synthesis cannot take place fully without retinoic acid.
  2. b) In a study on a man consisting of 155 male twins, it was found that vitamin A has a significant positive correlation with testosterone production.
  3. c) In an animal study (guinea pigs), vitamin A deficiency in the body significantly reduced testosterone production.
  4. d) In a study conducted on 102 boys with delayed puberty and short stature, the subjects were divided into 4 groups: the first was the control group, the second received synthetic testosterone (testosterone replacement therapy, TRT ), the third received vitamin A and iron supplements, and the fourth group is a combination of TRT, vitamin A and iron. As you can guess, the control group did not gain significant growth or the onset of puberty at an accelerated rate. However, in the vitamin A group, and the synthetic testosterone group, there were similar improvements in growth, puberty rate and testicular volume. Vitamin A + iron was just as effective as hormone replacement therapy during puberty.
  5. e) In a rodent study, it was noted that the testicular system (testicles) of rats contains several cellular receptors for vitamin A. Another interesting fact is that when rodents had no vitamin A in their food, testosterone production rapidly decreased (to the extent that the genitals literally atrophied), and the effect of estrogen inside the testicles increased rapidly. Since humans have almost identical testicle systems with Wistar white rats, this becomes very interesting for us.

There is some evidence that vitamin A deficiency is not very useful for testosterone production or testicular health. And it is more than likely that men with low levels of vitamin A may see a significant improvement in testosterone levels after taking vitamin A or consuming it in their diets.

However, there is no evidence that a high intake of vitamin A or even a supplement to its already existing optimal level can lead to an increase in testosterone production.

It is likely that the same thing happens with vitamin A as with vitamin D, where a dose-dependent increase in testosterone is observed until the optimal level of vitamin in the blood is reached, and after that the growth of testosterone stops rising.

What forms of supplements are best?

Answer: Provitamin A carotenoids are the most common form, since they are easiest to extract and / or synthesize in the laboratory. However, they are not as bioavailable as active forms, and the body needs to convert them to real vitamin A. On the other hand, carotenoids cannot be overdone, because the body only converts the amount it needs. However, the active forms accumulate in the body, because they are fat soluble and mostly “ready to eat”. But the body can use and absorb them much better than carotenoids. Just do not overload yourself with them. 

What are the best sources of vitamin A?

Answer:  You can easily replenish your daily intake ofprovitamin A with carotenoids by eating sweet potatoes (100 g is 380% of the recommended daily allowance), or a couple of carrots (100 g is 340% of the recommended daily allowance), or several handfuls of dark greens ( 100 g is 270% of the recommended daily allowance).

For calculations, we take the daily need for vitamin A equal to 900 micrograms.

For active forms of vitamin A (retinal, retinol and retinoic acid), beef liver (100 g is 1411% of the daily requirement) or a teaspoon of cod liver oil (which is about 100% of the recommended daily dose) are best options, or just a little salmon (100 g is 50% of the daily norm).

Five high vitamin A foods to support testosterone production

  1. Liver of animals (beef, pork, turkey, chicken)

Of course, the best source of the most bioavailable vitamin A in the retinoid form is eating the liver of animals.

It is not only rich in vitamin A, but also in nutrients of copper, zinc, potassium, vitamins D, E, B and C.

Here is the amount of vitamin A per 100 grams of the following types of liver:

  • Turkey liver (8058 mkg 895% of the daily requirement).
  • Beef and pork liver (6500 mcg 722% of the daily requirement).
  • Chicken liver (3296 mcg 366% of the daily requirement).

Do not like the taste of the liver? Try a sandwich with duck liver pate (taste is much better than most other types of liver products), or supplement your diet with dried liver.

  1. Sweet Potatoes (sweet potatoes)

Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of carbohydrates for those who want to optimize testosterone levels. They have a very high carotenoid form of vitamin A.

When beta-carotene from 100 g of sweet potato is converted into the active retinoid form (using retinol activity equivalents), we have 961 μg of active vitamin A per 100 g of sweet potato, which is 107% of the daily value.

Thus, sweet potatoes are not only beneficial for testosterone production, but also a valuable source of vitamin A in the form of carotenoids.

  1. Cod liver oil

Cod liver oil is often used as an additive, but in fact it is also food. It is simply oil extracted from freshwater cod liver. And as expected, it incredible amount of fat-soluble vitamins A, E and D. In 100 grams of cod liver oil contains 30000 micrograms (333% Daily Value) retinoic active forms of vitamin A .

Obviously, no one eats 100 grams of cod liver oil at a time. However, only one tablespoon of oil is enough to cover the daily need for vitamin A, as it contains 340 μg (136% of the daily requirement) of the microelement.

Note: Never buy cheap fish oil or cod liver oil in capsules, in many cases it is rancid and oxidized and may contain very high levels of mercury.

  1. Cheese

Cheese is a source of high-quality casein protein, as well as testosterone, which increases the level of saturated fats. It also contains a large amount of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin A in retinoid form. On average, 100 grams of Cheddar cheese gives 265 mcg of vitamin A (29% of the daily value).

In terms of the amount of vitamin A, cheese, of course, does not reach the liver, but still it is useful to include it a little in your diet in order to stimulate the production of testosterone and get some much needed trace elements.

  1. Butter

Butter is one of the preferred sources of fat in the diet, optimized for testosterone production. It contains the right type of fatty acids with a large number of beneficial trace elements to feed the endocrine system. When it comes to vitamin A, butter is a worthy source. So 100 grams give 684 mcg (76% of the daily requirement) of active vitamin A.


Vitamin A plays an important role in the production of testosterone. Its deficiency definitely reduces testosterone levels. However, such a deficiency is not so common if you do not follow a low-fat diet (it is difficult for the body to absorb vitamin A in the absence of fat).