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Sex Hormone Binding Globulin or SHBG is essential to maximizing the availability of testosterone, the substance every man wants to measure. Today, science is telling us that both men and women need an optimized hormonal profile, and testosterone is widely known to be important for men. Growing research points out the importance of testosterone for women, and blood testing is a practical way to “look under the hood” and get guidance to optimizing oneself. In this blog we will discover how SHBG is like a key and unlocks the door to optimizing health and performance.
Why SHBG is Important for Your Health and Performance
Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is a glycoprotein primarily produced in the liver and most commonly found in the bloodstream. It binds to any of 17 sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen, and transports these chemicals throughout the body. Testosterone and sex hormones are referred to as “bound” when attached to SHBG. When these hormones are not bound to SHBG, they are referred to as “free,” or “bioavailable,” and can freely exert their effects upon your body. The sum of bound and free testosterone is referred to as total testosterone.
It is well-known that a proper balance of testosterone and other sex hormones have a crucial impact on your health. Recent research has unveiled that imbalances of sex hormones are often preceded by abnormalities in SHBG. High levels of sex hormones can lead to excess growth of cells leading to the formation of certain cancers such as breast cancer. Low SHBG is also associated with elevated levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Because of this, low levels of SHBG are linked with multiple cardiovascular illnesses in both sexes, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Excessively high SHBG is problematic especially for males and athletes because it decreases the amount of free testosterone. High levels of SHBG are associated with infertility, a decreased sex drive, and erectile dysfunction, especially when total testosterone levels are already low. In both men and women, low levels of free testosterone can result in reduced muscle growth and impaired post-workout recovery. Additionally, recent research suggests that high levels of SHBG bind to estrogen and reduce bone mass in both men and women- potentially leading to osteoporosis. Thus, optimal SHBG levels are crucial in maintaining proper bone health and some experts are now suggesting routine measurement of SHBG as a useful new marker for predicting severe bone diseases.
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