As humans, we are always looking for ways to optimize our health. Whether it’s better sleep, recovery, enhanced muscle growth, athletic performance, or even improved sex, optimization and biohacking are inherently built into our being. Aspartate is a non-essential amino acid that comes in two forms, L and D-Aspartate. Research suggests that D-Aspartate may play a role in testosterone synthesis and may actually help increase human growth hormone. Testosterone and human growth hormone can enhance mood, libido, and improve quality of life. We’ll investigate the research behind D-Aspartic Acid to determine if these claims are actually backed up by research and science.
D-Aspartic acid (DAA) is a nonessential amino acid found in the central nervous system and reproductive tissues. Studies have shown that DAA supplementation affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG). Accumulation of DAA at this site is associated with testosterone production and upregulation of luteinizing hormone in animals.
Two forms of aspartic acid occur naturally, L-aspartic acid and D-aspartic acid. Both are synthesized in the human body and are also available through dietary protein sources.
D-Aspartate is found in synapses and neurons in the brain. DAA has a similar structure to neurotransmitters N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA), and can bind to NMDA receptors, so it can function as a neurotransmitter. D-Aspartic acid directly affects the neuroendocrine function of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain, causing the secretion of various hormones, including gonadotropin-releasing hormone, prolactin, luteinizing hormone and human growth hormone. It also affects the production of testosterone. However, the etiology and immediate mechanisms of how D-aspartate works have only been studied in in vitro or animal studies, so the relevance to humans is not fully understood but only hypothesized.
A large body of evidence examines the effects of D-aspartate on testosterone production. While there is some evidence that D-aspartic acid can increase plasma levels of testosterone in rodents, human evidence is limited. Although there is little evidence that D-aspartic acid has the same effect on testosterone and human growth hormone in humans, D-aspartic acid supplements have been marketed to increase strength and muscle when combined with resistance training quality. However, current evidence does not support these claims.
Early human studies showed that supplementation with 3 grams of DAA per day increased total testosterone levels by 42% in untrained participants (R). However, after 30 days of supplementation, resistance-trained men induced no changes. Subsequently, the researchers even found that a larger dose of 6 grams per day lowered testosterone by 12.5%, suggesting a deleterious effect on the negative feedback mechanism of the HPG axis.
Despite mixed results from other therapeutic applications, D-aspartic acid does have some promising research as a tool to aid male fertility. A group of 30 men suffering from infertility were treated with sodium D-aspartate daily for 90 days. Afterwards, changes in sperm concentration and motility and the occurrence of pregnancies with partners are recorded. The results showed that aspartic acid supplementation significantly increased sperm concentration and motility (R).
A study published in the journal PLoS One investigated the effects of DAA supplementation during a 3-month training period. Basal hormones, testosterone, estradiol, and isometric strength are a few of the parameters assessed. After three months of supplementation, the findings showed that there was no change in testosterone or free testosterone between the two groups, but both saw increases in isometric strength and free muscle mass. DAA had no effect on improvements in muscle strength or resistance training measures as there were no changes between groups.
Another study found that study participants who supplemented with D-aspartate and participated in a 28-day resistance training program increased their lean body mass by 2.9 pounds (1.3 kilograms). However, the placebo group gained 3 lbs (1.4 kg) (R).
The standard dose of D-Aspartic Acid is 2,000 – 3,000 mg per day.
The bottom line is that there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that D-aspartic acid provides any therapeutic benefit to help increase free and total testosterone, or to improve overall measures of quality of life.
With so many different supplements on the market, it’s important to research what natural testosterone boosters really do. While initial studies showed that 3 grams of D-Aspartic Acid did have a positive effect on testosterone levels, every subsequent study showed no increase or even a negative effect on test levels.
However, there is some evidence that D-aspartic acid may benefit sperm quantity and quality in men with fertility problems. Therefore, more research is needed to confirm whether DAA can be used as a potential treatment for infertility and low testosterone levels.
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