Think testosterone is the ultimate male hormone? Then you might not be familiar with DHT. The ability to convert testosterone to DHT is considered by some to be one of testosterone’s main benefits in the first place. DHT is actually 5 times more potent than testosterone and is responsible for the development male characteristics through puberty and into adulthood.
The Role of DHT
In adult males, DHT is primarily responsible for prostate and hair growth. There is no known role for DHT in females at any point during development. In fact, DHT and female hormones do not get along very well. DHT is an aromatase blocker, meaning it can’t aromatase into estrogen. DHT is so strong that it can block the male hormone from being converted into a female hormone. Testosterone to DHT conversion is how the androgen enters the body, a process which is carried out by enzymes. Roughly 5% of free testosterone is typically converted into DHT. DHT attaches to the same sites as testosterone, although due to its greater potency it stays attached for longer periods of time.
The Penultimate Male Hormone
Since DHT is produced in the testes, it is classified as a sex hormone. DHT is an androgen hormone, which by its very definition means it’s a prominent male hormone; “andro” is a Greek prefix meaning “masculine”. As a male hormone it’s responsible for characteristics such as deep voices, body hair, and the ability to build muscle.
As an androgen critical in the development of males, having too little DHT can lead to complications during development. Testosterone to DHT conversion is accomplished through an enzyme called congenital 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR). There’s a condition known as 5-AR deficiency where the enzyme responsible for converting testosterone to DHT is missing. Males with 5-AR deficiency grow up with a severely underdeveloped prostate and genitalia, and often end up being infertile.
The Problem With Too Much or Too Little DHT
A bit of a paradox concerning DHT is the fact that those with 5-AR deficiency will never suffer from male pattern baldness, despite DHT being absolutely vital for hair growth. Instead, those with too little DHT will generally not grow hair elsewhere on the body, but have a full head of hair throughout most of their life.
Conversely, having too much DHT can actually lead to hair loss. An increase in 5-AR in the body can lead to an increase in the conversion of testosterone to DHT. DHT binds to the receptors of hair follicles 5 times more than testosterone. It is thought that an abundance of DHT attached to hair follicle receptors can trigger the follicles to miniaturize, leading to hair loss.
Increasing Testosterone to DHT Production
Having dangerously low DHT levels should not be a concern unless you have 5-AR deficiency. Otherwise, your body is more than capable of producing DHT. If you’re concerned your DHT levels may not be adequate, there are natural ways you can increase the levels of the DHT in your system.
Reduce Body Fat
Body fat is the number one enemy of DHT. In fact, it can completely neutralize DHT. Excess body fat can also increase estrogen levels while lowering testosterone levels. In general, the more excess body fat a man has, the more DHT being neutralized in his body.
Consume More Healthy Fats
It’s possible to consume fat without getting fat, as long as you stick to what is called “dietary fat”. Dietary fat is one of the main building blocks of testosterone, that’s why eating fatty foods can lead to a natural increase in DHT. Stick to these types of fats and oils:
These work the best because they are natural, unprocessed, and rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Fats to avoid include processed vegetable oils that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. These include:
- Soybean oil
- Corn oil
- Canola oil
- Sunflower seed oil
- And so on
Get More Exercise
There are numerous studies supporting the fact that exercise increases testosterone levels, which in turn increases DHT levels. However, not all exercise is conducive to the production of DHT. Weight lifting and short intense exercises like sprinting are ideal for boosting DHT. Exercises that aren’t so great at boosting DHT include long cardio sessions, marathon running, high repetition workouts, etc.
DHT is the strongest of all male hormones. Keeping testosterone levels high is important because it has the potential to lead to greater DHT conversion. If you’re concerned your testosterone levels may be too low, I invite you schedule a consultation with me regarding natural testosterone replacement therapy. Schedule a consultation with me online, or call 973-218-1199.