Nutrition: D-Aspartic Acid – A Double-Edged Sword?
Date Posted: 03/30/2011
Author: Peter Bauman
A new compound has started to take the fitness industry by storm. D-Aspartic Acid (DAA) has become the next big thing in the supplement industry due to studies showing that it can help to increase precious testosterone levels, which is a goal of every self-respecting male who sets foot in a gym to pump the iron. However, some other research has emerged suggesting that D-Aspartic Acid might have some side effects that counteract the potential gains in testosterone. Let’s take a look at the compound and the research to get a better idea of the situation.
D-Aspartic Acid (DAA), which is not to be confused with Asparagine (the compound in asparagus that causes your urine to smell), is one of 20 naturally occurring amino acids. It isn’t what is considered an “essential amino acid” because our bodies can synthesize it from other compounds, but it can be found in various foods such as meats, avocados, beets and oats, just to name a few. DAA is found primarily in the pituitary gland in your brain, the endocrine gland that controls things like growth, energy levels, thyroid and sex functioning, etc., as well as the testes, which produce your reproductive friends, sperm, and androgens like testosterone. The hype around DAA came from studies showing that it causes an increase in Luteinizing Hormone (LH), a compound that signals the testes to produce testosterone. If DAA increases LH, which in turn increases T, this is a good thing, right? Bodybuilders and gym rats all over the country have started supplementing DAA hoping to push their T levels through the roof and reap the benefits. This would be fine if it weren’t for the newest research that emerged, putting a screeching halt to the exuberance with which people tout the advantages of supplementing DAA.
What could this new research possibly show that would make people question the efficacy of this compound? Don’t worry, it wasn’t giving people hairy palms or anything like that, but it did show a serious drawback that would make supplementing this substance fairly worthless. The new research demonstrated that DAA increases not only cause the luteinizing hormone to increase testosterone levels, but at the same time it increases activity of a compound called aromatase. Aromatase’s function in the body is to convert testosterone into estradiol, a form of estrogen. DAA apparently is an active compound for increasing the production of sex hormones – both male AND female. Every muscle builder wants to produce more testosterone, but it isn’t a good thing to also produce an equally greater amount of estrogen. Some testosterone is naturally converted to estrogen, and there’s not a whole lot you can do to stop it, but your body requires a little bit of estrogen to run properly. There are supplements and compounds that you can take to slow the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, but regardless of what you do, some of it will be converted. Unfortunately, supplementing with DAA (which increases your aromatase activity levels) converts a lot of testosterone into estrogen. What this means (in an extreme case) is that you could pack on a ton of muscle mass, be ready to dominate and take names, and have the libido of a Bonobos monkey. But, you could also end up being moody, growing male breasts, and craving chocolate and sappy movies. All exaggeration aside, these new findings make DAA a supplement you probably want to avoid.
The good news is that there are things that can be done to counteract the negative side effects and prevent the increase in estrogen production. DAA may increase aromatase activity, but the simple solution to that problem is to take a supplement that acts as an “aromatase inhibitor”, such as Triarco’s MyTosteroneŽ. Even if there is more aromatase in your system, or more aromatase enzymes floating around, they won’t be effective in converting your beloved testosterone into estrogen if they are blocked or inhibited. When it comes down to it, I wouldn’t recommend taking DAA, or at the very least taking it by itself. DAA will increase testosterone levels, but it will also increase estrogen levels if the side effects aren’t counteracted. Playing that much hormonal warfare on your body is probably not the best idea, especially when there are T-increasing products out there without the negative side effects. If you can get your hands on another supplement such as MyTosterone, or tribulus terrestris, which won’t have the same drawbacks, you will probably be better off.