Men’s wellness begins with candor, lifestyle changes and supplements.
Although men and women alike strive for good health, a man faces somewhat different risks than a woman, particularly with the aging process. While heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke affect both genders, men have specific issues like prostate issues, erectile dysfunction, fertility and testosterone imbalances.
“Men can struggle with a variety of health issues. Often obesity and being overweight are common among men, especially as they age. Being overweight or obese puts men at greater risk for developing health complications that can be prevented, including heart disease, stroke and certain cancers,” said Dr. Nicole Avena, assistant professor at Mount Sinai Medical School (New York) with a focus in nutrition and health. Fortunately, many conditions can be prevented with lifestyle changes and often, with a variety of supplements.
Top Male Health Concerns
Male medical concerns shift with the aging process. While younger men might have fertility concerns, older men might be concerned with sleep or prostate issues, along with cardiovascular health. But people live busy lifestyles and often do not have or make the time to focus on healthy habits such as exercise, good nutrition and adequate sleep.
“In my professional experience, men are concerned about staying healthy and maintaining their energy levels. Depending on what stage of life a man is in, this can differ. Some men struggle to maintain energy levels when they get into their 40s and 50s, and in part, this is age-related. However, low energy can also be lifestyle-related. Poor diet, lack of sleep, lack of exercise or even micronutrient deficiency can cause low energy in men, and all of these can be corrected with lifestyle modifications,” said Dr. Avena.
“In general, men want good health, energy, sexual performance, great mood, and, of course, all of the universal aspects of overall well-being that affect everyone. I think men want to feel vital, energetic and remain as youthful as possible for as long as possible. Like everyone, they want to preserve vigor and function well into their later decades,” added Cheryl Myers, chief of scientific affairs and education at EuroMedica, Inc., a manufacturer in Wisconsin.
Paul E. Opheim, MIM, MA, research director and CEO of Leptica, a manufacturer headquartered in Arizona, observed that weight tops the list of health concerns for men. “The second would be the set of issues related to aging with reduced energy and performance levels. They reflect reductions in GH (growth hormone) and testosterone signaling, as well as other related hormones,” he said.
Fertility is another issue. “One in six couples have trouble conceiving, and in at least half of those couples, suboptimal male fertility is the reason for the fertility issues,” said Suzanne Munson, MS, vice president of product development & compliance for Fairhaven Health, a manufacturer based in Washington State.
Vincent P. Nudi, Esq., vice president of special projects and legal counsel of Vinco, Inc. (Evans City, PA), agreed that general health and prostate health and virility were top male concerns, along with fitness and injury recovery.
Many men are concerned about sexual health at any age but do not think about their prostate until it becomes an issue. “Paying attention to prostate health at an earlier age can make a significant difference in whether you have serious issues later in life,” said David Winston, RH (AHG), president of New Jersey-based Herbalist & Alchemist, Inc. Hormone levels decrease with age, leading to andropause. This gradual reduction of testosterone can cause men to experience “… sleep issues, decreased sexual functioning, BPH, weight gain and depression,” he added.
In connection with prostate health is benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which affects three out of four men over the age of 60, according to Dr. Michael Jurgelewicz, director of product development and clinical support for Designs for Health, in Connecticut. The condition is characterized by low testosterone. Symptoms include loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, depression and even a reduction in cognitive function.
Another top area of concern is kidney health. “In our experience, men are concerned with maintaining their eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate) rates, improving their quality of life, and assisting their gut microbiome through the use of prebiotics and probiotics,” noted Marlena Chesner, marketing associate with Kibow Biotech, a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer. “Kidney problems are highly pervasive, affecting at least 15 percent of the American population. In the United States, they are also the ninth leading cause of death. While everyone should be conscious of their kidney health, men are more likely to progress into end stage renal failure (ESRD) and have a 31 percent higher risk of death when compared to women with kidney problems.”
Conventional vs. Natural Approaches
Though many men seek out conventional therapies for certain conditions, others are trying to find alternate ways to manage or maintain their health.
“Pharmaceutical drugs have tremendous limitations for chronic issues, not to mention published adverse side effects. We have seen increasingly greater awareness that a natural, holistic, integrative approach is more effective for improving challenges to men’s health,” said Opheim.
“More and more men are looking for alternative options that are not invasive and have less or no side effects,” added Dr. Jurgelewicz.
Depending on its root cause, Munson explained that for poor sperm health, some men have been treated by surgery or antibiotics. She said that sometimes, sperm health is hampered by lifestyle choices.
“Sometimes, conventional treatment is required, but there is certainly is a large demand for natural approaches for supporting male fertility and sperm health; antioxidant-based dietary supplements can play a role in supporting sperm health,” said Munson.
For kidney problems specifically, conventional treatments include “…phosphate-binders, potassium binders, blood pressure medication and more,” noted Chesner. “While dialysis has fallen out of favor, it has not fallen out of necessity.”
When it comes to gut health, Chesner explained that conventional treatments have generally been lacking. “It is only recently that Western countries have begun to understand the gut microbiota and utilize prebiotics and probiotics. There is an abundance of probiotic and prebiotic supplements targeted towards men. The challenge is finding science-based supplements that work,” she said.
Depending on the health concern, many practitioners will offer supplements to their patients, ranging from daily multivitamins to issue-specific supplements.
“While not necessarily specific to men, I do think that collagen protein has taken off as a supplement that men are interested in. Protein supplements have been around for ages, but collagen protein has added benefits, including helping with joints, which can be an issue for both physically active and non-physically active men,” said Dr. Avena.
Kibow Biotech manufactures Renadyl, a synbiotic supplement that includes “…both beneficial bacteria and fiber, explicitly designed to help people with kidney problems maintain their kidney function.* Kidneys are responsible for filtering toxins from the blood and removing them during urination. However, low functioning kidneys allow uremic and nitrogenous wastes to build up in the blood. Eventually, these toxins cross into the colon and cause additional problems. Our patented microbes can metabolize (consume) these toxins, which are then removed during bowel movements helping take some burden off the kidneys,”* said Chesner.
Another product, a companion to Renadyl, is a multi-functional probiotic called Kibow Fortis. “It contains seven different fibers, including soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers dissolve in water and are ultimately turned into SCFAs (short-chain fatty acids). Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water, but it does provide fuel for the gut microbiota and assist bowel movements. This offers maximum support to the gut,” said Chesner.
Leptica manufactures Naturally Leptin Signaling Formulas designed for craving control and weight reduction for men. Other products are Naturally hGH Signaling Formula Naturally Testosterone Signaling Formula, Not For Me Sugar and ManAge Formula. Another product is targeted toward PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), called PTSD Relief and is currently in clinical trials.
Fairhaven Health’s flagship product is FertilAid for Men, though the company has expanded its line. Currently, its most popular product for the practitioner market for male fertility is FH PRO for Men. “It is an antioxidant-based supplement with more than 25 ingredients. It provides comprehensive baseline multivitamin support, plus L-carnitine tartrate, L-arginine, CoQ10, zinc and lycopene. Antioxidants are believed to help sperm health by lowering oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress has been linked to suboptimal sperm health,” explained Munson.
A new product launch is FH PRObiotic, the first oral probiotic targeted specifically for male fertility and includes six probiotic strains. “While it is not yet fully understood how oral probiotics benefit sperm health, it has been theorized that by replenishing healthy bacteria in the gut, testicles and prostate, there is a reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as healthy production of testosterone—all of which supports sperm health,” added Munson.
EuroMedica recently launched HRG80 Red Ginseng to address energy and vitality deficits due to poor diet, illness, aging or metabolic dysfunction. “The ginseng roots are provided with exactly the nutrients they need, at exactly the right time, in exactly the right proportions. Just as importantly, the plants are stressed during their growth cycle, too, and that is a critical difference. This helps the roots produce concentrated levels of noble ginsenosides,” said Myers.
Another EuroMedica product is Bio Active essentials, a multivitamin and mineral complex. “The importance of minerals is easy for people to underestimate, and this is where a practitioner’s guidance can be particularly helpful. Even the basic dosage of two tablets per day—a fairly easy level for compliance—will provide a higher level and more effective forms of nutrients than many men would ever get from their diet alone, or from a basic supermarket multi,” noted Myers.
The company also manufactures CuraPro for prostate, cellular and overall support. Its main ingredients, curcumin and turmeric essential oil, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce risk for such conditions as prostate cancer and targets the cell-signaling that creates the susceptibility to tumors, explained Myers. And Bladder Manager features Angelica archangelica leaf extract to help patients suffering from urinary urgency or frequent nocturnal bathroom visits, while EurOmega3 targets cardiovascular and neural health.
The latest supplement offered by Designs for Health is Prostect to support healthy prostate and urinary function; it contains extracts of cranberry, pomegranate and a proprietary flower pollen. Other products include LidoStim-M containing many botanicals to support natural testosterone production, as well as Prostate Supreme.
Vinco manufactures several products for various aspects of men’s health including Vinco Multi-Men’s; Vinco’s Probiotic and Probiotic Eight 65; Vinco Liposomal Vitamin B12 and Vinco InjuRecov, as well as Vinco Prostashield.
New York-based Patient One MediNutritionals manufactures Patient One Prostate FA Plus to promote prostate and urinary health along with reproductive wellness. It contains such ingredients as saw palmetto, pumpkin seed, Pygeum africanum, phytosterols, lycopene and silica. “Our formula includes a clinically supported dose of saw palmetto in liquid form. Research supports that liquid saw palmetto supplements, when compared to powders, tinctures and dried berries, contained significantly higher concentrations of fatty acids and phytosterols—key bioactive components of saw palmetto,” said Jessica Cipolla, executive assistant to CEO.
Men’s Adapt, Men’s Prostate Tonic and Men’s Midlife Tonic are three products manufactured by Herbalist & Alchemist to address common men’s health issues. All of these formulas combine well-researched adaptogens. For example, Winston said that Men’s Prostate Tonic supports healthy prostate function and urine flow with its combination of saw palmetto berry, collinsonia, stinging nettle root and white sage, with saw palmetto and stinging nettle root acting as mild 5-alpha reductive inhibitors.
And Men’s Midlife Tonic supports hormonal and physical changes that occur during andropause with such ingredients as milky oat to help restore the nervous system, ashwagandha, a calming adaptogen to enhance testosterone levels and black cohosh root, saw palmetto and pulsatilla to reduce irritability and anxiety, along with mimosa bark, a mood elevator.
Due in part to patients being self-advocates while seeking safe and alternative ways to promote health, the practitioner market for supplements geared toward men is growing and is likely here to stay.
“What we have seen recently is a more interested approach to long-term health,” said Nudi. For example, he said that men are paying more attention to their prostate health and realizing that healthier living with nutrition can help with virility. This, he said, has contributed to a boom in the supplements industry.
“I see our future with our formulas continuing to grow because when you’re dealing with chronic afflictions or challenges, the issue is multi-factorial which is something that monotherapy approaches—like with pharmaceutical drugs—are incapable of adequately addressing. With increased life-stress, epigenetic pollutants, this market will continue to grow and expand,” assessed Opheim.
In addition to taking a more active role in their own wellbeing, consumers are also striving to stay educated about the supplements they take and the best ways to maintain health and prevent chronic degenerative disease. To that end, Winston’s company provides education to practitioners, including a free monthly Herbal Salon, an “… hour-long online session focused on specific conditions with-in depth information on the effects of various herbs and the opportunity to ask questions.”
Dr. Jurgelewicz predicted that the practitioner’s market will continue to grow as men are living longer. “The practitioner channel typically will use clinically researched ingredients and therapeutic levels which are more efficacious,” he said.
The pandemic has played a role in shaping the market as well.
“The current health crisis has thrown a curveball into many aspects of the practitioner market, but it has also provided a fantastic opportunity. People, now more than ever, are looking to health care professionals for guidance. We believe that the trend will continue, even as the crisis subsides,” said Chesner.
Still, Dr. Avena believes that more products are needed to address men’s health as they age. “The products out there tend to target men in general and don’t really address the specific needs of men that change as they age. We see a lot of this in the women’s health space, but not so much for men,” she said.
As a rule, natural practitioners should take a holistic overview when evaluating their patients, particularly when it comes to recommending supplements. Ultimately, a healthy lifestyle is most patients’ desire, though achieving that can take behavior modification and sometimes, supplements if warranted.
Asking the Right Questions
At times, it can be difficult for men to broach their health concerns with their physicians. For that reason, Myers said, “Practitioners may need to be both patient and prompting.”
Dr. Avena agreed that men are less likely to seek out help for health issues. Therefore, she recommended, “It is important that practitioners are aware of this and are willing to spend the time talking about potential health issues with their male patients.”
Fertility issues can also be difficult to discuss. “Starting with an understanding that male fertility is a huge concern, practitioners can be on the lookout for men and couples who are struggling with fertility issues. Male fertility is well suited to a natural medicine practice because dietary and lifestyle changes, along with supplements, can really make a big difference,” said Munson.
Winston said that many younger men today seem to be more proactive about their health and are conscious of diets and lifestyle choices. “Practitioners can better serve their patients by providing education on the benefits of true prevention of disease, not just early detection. Give men the tools they need to understand how diet, sleep, exercise, healthy lifestyle choices and the discerning use of herbs/supplements can enhance their lives now and, in the future,” said Winston.
“Many health care professionals have come to recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy, balanced gut microbiota. Suggesting a probiotic and prebiotic supplement is a natural, safe way to help your clients manage their gut microbiota and its essential functions,” noted Chesner.
Education About Supplements
It is essential for practitioners to be able to understand the ingredients and benefits of the supplements they recommend and to communicate that knowledge to their patients.
“I think it is important to understand lifestyle and habits and be able to offer guidance to help them address necessary changes in a step-by-step, easy-to-follow basis. Just taking supplements without clear goals and how to reach them ultimately won’t help the patients achieve a healthy lifestyle change,” said Opheim.
To that end, Opheim said his company offers self-assessment and chart-your-use forms to help practitioners chart patient progress, compliance and improvements. The company also helps with merchandising by providing formula flyers for the products and white papers.
Practitioners should also take advantage of product information sheets and garner as much information as possible about any supplements sold in the office; most manufacturers have these available. Vinco, for example, provides a tailored marketing program.
Dr. Avena said that supplements are often seen by patients as magical pills as a cure-all, but practitioners should reinforce health-promoting behaviors first.
“I think there is a place for supplements and natural products in a practice, but they should complement the attempts practitioners are making to work with patients to make lifestyle changes to better their health. So, for example, before talking to a patient about which supplements might help with weight loss, one should be talking about the patients diet and efforts to control their weight through diet and exercise,” she said.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Healthy Take Aways:
• As some men are reluctant to talk about health concerns, practitioners should ask specific questions to their male patients to extract essential information.
• One in six couples have trouble conceiving, and in at least half of those couples, suboptimal male fertility is the reason for the fertility issues.
• Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), affects three out of four men over the age of 60.
• Lifestyle changes should be discussed before or in conjunction with recommending supplements.
For More Information:
Designs for Health, www.designsforhealth.com
Fairhaven Health, www.fairhavenhealth.com
Herbalist & Alchemist, www.herbalist-alchemist.com
Kibow Biotech, https://kibowbiotech.com