Every few months there’s a new supplement being touted as boosting testosterone and making men more manly, naturally. While some of them live up to the hype, most do not. One such supplement that is very popular at the moment, may actually lower testosterone. As a man that’s the last thing you want! In fact, studies show that men today have 40 percent less testosterone than they did just a few decades ago. So you definitely want to steer clear of anything that can lower your testosterone even more!
The supplement that we’re talking about in this article is called 3,3’-diindolylmethane, but it’s more commonly known as DIM. Supplement manufacturers are hailing DIM as nothing short of a miracle cure-all. And many authors, bloggers, speakers, and health industry professionals are promoting it for everything from migraines to cancer. One of the major ways in which it is promoted to men is as a testosterone booster.
The claim is that DIM lowers estrogen and increases the amount of free testosterone. But that’s definitely not the whole story. That’s because DIM is also an anti-androgen. That means that it lowers the amount of testosterone.
Before you fall prey to the marketers looking to make a buck by convincing you that their DIM miracle supplement will make you more of a man, read this article to the end.
What Is DIM?
DIM is often marketed as being a natural substance found in vegetables in the cabbage family. But that’s not really true. In fact, DIM isn’t found in any vegetables. Instead, our bodies may naturally convert some substances found in vegetables into DIM. That may seem like a minor point, but as we’ll see, it can make a big difference.
Vegetables in the cabbage family (brassicas) like broccoli, kale, and turnips contain substances known as indole-3-carbinol (I3C). When we eat these vegetables our bodies may convert some of the small amounts of I3C found in the foods into DIM.
When we eat these vegetables the amount of DIM produced is pretty small. But the amount that we absorb is even smaller. That’s because when we eat foods that convert to DIM, most of the DIM gets broken down in the stomach.
Now, it turns out that scientists have found that the very small amounts of DIM that we absorb after eating natural vegetables like broccoli have some benefits. Researchers have found DIM to be anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-cancer, and…anti-testosterone!
Researchers have consistently found that people who eat several servings of brassica vegetables each week tend to have better health. They have less cancer. They have better heart health. And they have better prostate health. So eating brassicas in moderation is healthy.
However, some people have jumped to the conclusion that DIM is the sole reason why eating brassicas is healthy. Not only that, but they have decided that if some DIM is good then more must be better.
What The Science Has To Say
The trouble is that the science simply doesn’t support many of the claims being made about DIM. Although there are some studies showing that DIM can lower the “bad” types of estrogen, there’s nothing showing that it can increase free testosterone.
And what’s more, there are some studies that demonstrate clearly that DIM can reduce testosterone and DHT. As a man, that’s not what you want.
To make matters worse, the amount of DIM in supplements is way more than you could ever get from eating broccoli. And many of the supplements are designed to dramatically increase the absorption rate. So while the tiny amounts of DIM you might absorb from brassicas can be healthy, the amount from supplements could be dangerous.
Let’s put this in perspective. A pound of broccoli may contain around 5 mg of I3C. And if you could eat that much, you might then produce 0.5 mg of DIM, absorbing only a small amount of that. But supplement manufacturers recommend consuming as much as 1000 mg of DIM in highly absorbable supplement form.
In other words, following the supplement manufacturers’ guidelines, you would be consuming more than 2000 times as much DIM as you might absorb after eating a huge serving of broccoli. And no one yet knows what the effects of that are likely to be. We especially don’t know what the long term effects might be.
It is possible, of course, that after a great deal of study we may discover that regularly consuming 1000 mg of DIM is healthy for most men. But given the lack of studies and the anecdotal reports from men that DIM supplementation may have lowered their testosterone levels, do you really want to be the guinea pig for supplement companies?
Eat Your Vegetables
Sometimes age-old advice is the best advice. We all know that we should eat our vegetables. There’s good reason why. Hundreds of thousands of years have proven that eating vegetables is good for us.
As I mentioned before, lots of studies have shown that regularly eating brassica vegetables is healthy. People who eat brassicas have lower rates of cancer. They have healthier hearts. They have better brains. And they have healthier prostates. All of that without any indication that eating brassicas is harmful to testosterone levels.
In all the excitement about the miracle cure of DIM, most people seem to have forgotten that rarely is something merely the sum of its parts. And never can something be reduced to one component and still be the same thing. Claiming that all the benefits of broccoli are caused by DIM is a bit…dim-witted. There are many vitamins, minerals, alkaloids, and other substances found in broccoli. Ironically, DIM isn’t one of them. And while broccoli (as well as other brassicas) has been shown to have tremendous health benefits, DIM hasn’t.
So if you want to be healthy, eating brassicas at least a few times a week can be one way to support that goal. Eat your vegetables. But for now, skip the DIM.
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