There is a chemical compound that has recently gained the reputation by the supplement industry as the next big miracle for men’s health. This highly touted supplement is Diindolylmethane, better known as DIM.
The compound DIM has been linked to boosts in testosterone. Replenishing testosterone levels is the primary concern for most males looking for supplements. Conveniently enough, supplement companies have found a way to extract DIM and sell this testosterone-boosting compound.
However, with an increasing rate of side effects coming to light, is DIM the right choice for those looking to boost testosterone? Are supplements the best way to up your DIM intake? We will shed a light as to why DIM has become so positively lauded by the natural health industry and the safest ways to reap the maximum benefits of this compound.
WHAT IS DIM?
To understand how you may benefit from DIM, you must first understand what it is exactly. The name derives from its chemical structure. Diindolylmethane is comprised of one methane molecule and two indoles molecules, hence the “di” at the top of its name.
Your body naturally produces DIM during the digestion process. It is created as a byproduct of a nutrient called indole-3-cabinol (I3C). Many foods contain traces of I3C, but an abundance of this phytochemical may be found in cruciferous foods.
Not everyone is the biggest fans of fruits and veggies. So, some males may have lower levels of I3C, and thus lower levels of DIM. As supplement companies realized they can extract DIM itself, it has become a viable option for those who opt out on their greens.
DIM AND TESTOSTERONE
The reason that DIM has come to the forefront of the testosterone-boosting supplement community is its ability to reduce estrogen levels. Due to many factors including our diets, use of plastics, and poor blood flow, hormone levels in men become imbalanced as they age. If estrogen levels outnumber testosterone levels, it may result in balding, loss of muscle mass, decrease of sex drive, and poor sperm production in males.
As stated in the conclusion of a study conducted on the effects of DIM on cancerous cells, “Many in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated the chemotherapeutic and chemopreventive activities of DIM against several cancers, such as breast cancer, by counteracting the adverse effects of estrogen.”
Another positive effect DIM has on the process of producing testosterone is its ability to unbind free testosterone from sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG). There are two types of testosterone in our body. The most important is free testosterone. This version of the hormone is readily available in the bloodstream, producing more muscle mass, stronger sex drivers, longer-lasting erections, and fuller hair. As strong as free testosterone is, it only accounts for 2% of the total testosterone in our body.
The rest of the testosterone is rendered obsolete because it becomes attached to SHBG. This is a protein that hinders testosterone’s bioavailability. Although most of the testosterone in our body is locked up by SHBG, studies have found that DIM has the ability to unlock the T.
Although the decrease of estrogen and the unbinding of free T from SHBG will have a positive impact on the amount of testosterone levels in your body, not many other studies can conclude that DIM will directly increase testosterone production. That doesn’t mean that DIM isn’t an effective nutrient. It clearly has anti-cancer properties and estrogen-lowering abilities. However, does this make DIM the most effective supplement for testosterone-boosting?
I3C AND TESTOSTERONE
I3C is the unsung hero of the equation. After all, DIM is a derivative of I3C. That means I3C has many other components than just DIM. I3C, which does contain DIM, has been shown to aid the liver in metabolizing estrogen.
The nutrient I3C contains two enzymes that are released in the digestion process. As I3C becomes metabolized by the liver, the CYPB1B enzyme in I3C becomes downregulated, while the CYP1A2 enzyme becomes upregulated. Essentially, these reactions cause the liver to filter out excess estrogen through urine. This process was realized in a study conducted over 20 years ago involving both males and females.
SUPPLEMENT VS. FOOD
There is no denying that DIM can be beneficial to your health. However, supplementing DIM without I3C may not be the wisest decision for those looking to improve their overall health.
Like any supplement, bodies tend react differently from one supplement to another. There are always health risks when introducing heightened levels of chemicals into your body. This warning includes DIM as a solely-extracted supplement.
As DIM has been touted as anti-carcinogenic for its ability to lower estrogen levels, which in turn may lead to an increase in testosterone production, one study has found different results. This study concluded that isolated DIM actually inhibits the growth of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the prostate. In turn, this may lead to the growth of abnormalities such as cancerous cells within the prostate.
Like we mentioned above, DIM has been linked to lowering estrogen levels. This seems to be the compound’s greatest claim to fame. However, one study with rats debunks this claim. Comparing tamoxifen (a common ingredient in prescription estrogen blockers), I3C and DIM, the University of Kansas Medical Center concluded I3C and tamoxifen both blocked estrogen, whereas DIM had no significant effects on the results.
This brings to question, what is the purpose of taking DIM supplements when you can just eat your nutrients? It is clear the I3C has stronger medicinal properties of DIM because it has DIM itself as well as numerous other nutrients. If you would like to boost your testosterone naturally by eating more DIM-based foods, try incorporating more of the following foods into your diet:
- Bok Choy
- Brussels Sprouts
- Collard Greens
- Red Cabbage
There is no question that DIM has healing properties that are beneficial for optimal male health. However, it’s easy to get lost in the hype created by supplemental companies trying to market the next big thing in the world of health. By taking extracted DIM supplements, you may actually be doing more harm than good to your body. Getting back to basics and eating your greens is the best way to ensure you are getting the anti-cancer, estrogen-reducing benefits of DIM that is naturally produced by I3C during the digestion process.