Testosterone is an important marker when it comes to your health, fitness, and fertility, but it doesn’t work alone. If you’re thinking about your testosterone levels, it’s a good idea to look at the bigger picture.
The ability of your body to produce the right levels of testosterone, and for that testosterone to work effectively, depends on lots of factors, from your diet and sleeping habits to whether you are getting enough essential vitamins and minerals.
We’re going beyond testosterone alone to take a closer look at the other elements you need to know about, alongside your testosterone levels, if you want to improve your health, increase your fitness, and build muscle more effectively.
Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) plays a vital role in moving essential hormones around the body so they can do their job. This is particularly true when it comes to testosterone.
What is SHBG and how does it relate to testosterone?
Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is a protein in your blood that binds certain hormones. It’s produced in the liver, and, in smaller amounts, the testes and it binds three important hormones found in both males and females:
- Testosterone - the main sex hormone for males but is also found in females.
- Dihydrotestosterone – a hormone found in greater quantities in males.
- Oestradiol - a form of oestrogen, the main female sex hormone.
Testosterone and oestrogen are essential hormones that help the body develop its sexual and reproductive tissues. SHBG is needed to help move the active versions of these hormones throughout your body.
What are the signs of SHBG deficiency?
If your SHBG levels are too low, it could mean that the protein is not attaching itself to enough testosterone. This means more unattached testosterone is available in your system, cause high levels of testosterone to go to your body's tissues.
If your SHBG levels are too low, it can be a warning sign of:
- Cushing's syndrome, a condition in which your body makes too much of a hormone called cortisol
- In men, cancer of the testicles or adrenal glands.
- In women, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Overuse of steroid medications
- Type 2 diabetes
What about if your SHBG levels are too high?
If your SHBG levels are too high, it may indicate that the protein is attaching itself to too much testosterone. This means that less of the hormone is available and your tissues may not be getting enough testosterone.
If your SHBG levels are too high, it can be a warning sign of:
- Eating disorders
- In men, it can mean a problem with the testicles or pituitary gland
- In women, it can mean problem with the pituitary gland, or Addison disease
- Liver disease
Taking a look at your testosterone – look a little deeper
When looking indicators of your health and fitness, it’s always a good idea to get as much of a holistic view as you can, as there are so many elements which can influence how effectively our body is functioning.
And this is certainly the case when it comes to testosterone. Understanding the crucial elements linked to your testosterone levels can help you make the right dietary, supplement, and exercise-based choices for you.