The first sports hormone or what is called a prohormone that was introduced into the sports nutrition industry was called Androstenedione. It is a precursor to testosterone. Androstenedione was discovered by scientists in 1935. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that they realized that it becomes testosterone in the body. Androstenedione is naturally produced in both the male and female body. It is also found in Scotch pine trees. Because it is found in Scotch pine trees it can be made into products that can be classified as dietary supplements.
Androstenedione is only one step away from becoming the male hormone testosterone. This is unlike DHEA which is 2 steps away from becoming testosterone. Androstenedione helps boost the performance of muscle-building athletes, but not until it is converted by the liver into testosterone. The results of enhanced sports performance ability only lasts about one hour. Studies have been done comparing DHEA and Androstenedione that prove that Androstenedione produces more testosterone in the body than DHEA. There are documented athletic records that show that it will boost testosterone levels between 140% and up to 183% of the normal range when only using 50 mg of Androstenedione. It can boost testosterone levels by up to 237% if 100 mg is taken. For this reason, many body builders, weight lifters, and those who are involved in other demanding sports think it is an important supplement.
Androstenedione actually builds muscle tissue. It does so by raising testosterone levels which affects the amount of lean muscle growth in the body. It is thought that when the hormone supplement is taken the liver simply adds the hydrogen atom to it so that it then becomes testosterone. This is not a steroid hormone that you take intravenously. The body is able to control the amount of testosterone that is produced after taking the supplement, unlike taking anabolic steroids. Advertisements for products that contain Androstenedione claim that you cannot get too much testosterone if you take the hormone in supplement form. However, it should be noted that Androstenedione can also be converted into the female hormone estrogen and there is no way to know what the body will do with it once it is ingested.
There is no guarantee that it will be converted into testosterone. It is not yet known how the body decides whether it should be converted to either testosterone or estrogen. One factor that may play an important role in the body’s decision is the amount of body fat the person has. If there is a lot of body fat on the individual, the hormone may be converted into estrogen instead of testosterone. This means that men could gain mammary tissue and female sexual characteristics if they are overweight. On the other hand, women may gain male characteristics.
The use of androstenedione has been banned by most professional sports now. Major League Baseball is the exception. They prefer to wait for more testing. The FDA states that there is not enough evidence to establish Androstenedione as a dietary supplement and it has not yet been proven to be reasonably safe. The FDA also believes that it can raise the risk of serious health issues in the people who take these supplements. There is the potential in men to experience testicular atrophy when using this testosterone precursor. Men may also develop female characteristics like mammary tissue growth. Women who use this hormone may be risking the development of male characteristics like male pattern baldness and increased facial hair as well as the deepening of the voice. Women may also be increasing their risk for breast and endometrial cancers. Children who are given this testosterone precursor may experience an early onset of puberty and a stunting of their normal growth. Children who take these supplements may not reach their normal height as a result.