Until science can predict the future of individual health, supplementation for men as they age is key.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading causes of death for men in 2013 were heart disease, cancer and accidents (unintentional injuries). While age plays a key factor in many illnesses and accidents there are measures that could be taken in order to aid in a healthy aging process. “Supplementation is good to start early—we suggest men in their late teens or early 20s,” said Benjamin Baudu, manager of California-based Accelerated Intelligence. “We all know during these years, most men generally consume some junk food, drink alcohol, etc. and may not get the nutrition they need.”
Aside from mortality, there are other general health concerns that affect men, including low testosterone and erectile dysfunction (ED), mental degeneration, digestive problems and joint health.
According to an article by the Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School, entitled “Mars vs. Venus: The Gender Gap in Health” even though the last 100 years has resulted in longer life-spans, women are still out pacing men, “in fact, the gap is wider now than it was a century ago.” Life expectancy in America in 2007 was approximately 80.4 years for women, and 75.3 years for men—a 5.1-year difference.
Harvard Health noted several factors for the difference: including sex chromosomes, hormones, metabolism and reproductive anatomy.
Dr. Mark Menolascino, a key opinion leader at Lycored in New Jersey, noted that there are multiple factors that contribute to health issues concerning men.
• Hormone disruptors in both the diet and environment—Toxins in the environment, processed foods and increased stress are negatively affecting testosterone levels.
• Inconsistent or inadequate exercise/sedentary lifestyle—Sitting is proving more dangerous than smoking.
• Poor diet—Too much processed food, simple carbs, sugars and damaging fats, and not enough vegetables.
• Lack of social support/intimacy with partner or family—Increased social activity may be more powerful than cholesterol or blood sugar in predicting not just longevity of life but more importantly to most: quality and vitality of life.
• Alcoholism, substance abuse and smoking
• Excessive red meat and dairy consumption—Red meat and processed meats are now known to increase colon cancer based on recent World Health Organization (WHO) reports, and likely related to increased risk of prostate cancer.
“Most men are interested in better energy and endurance today, but are becoming more aware, especially as they enter mid-life, that ongoing prevention for circulatory, cancer and brain aging diseases would be worth some additional effort,” said Jeff Baker, MD, with Arkansas-based Bio-Tech Pharmacal, Inc.
Generally speaking, the main issues in men’s health come after they are in their mid- to late-30s and clearly noticeable for most men in their 40s, Baudu said. Testosterone production gets reduced as men age and the result is multiple issues including lower sex drive.
But supplementation could be beneficial even earlier. “Men in their 20s often do not obtain optimum levels of zinc, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining prostate health,” said Kelly Heim, PhD, senior director, scientific affairs for Pennsylvania-based Douglas Laboratories.
According to the National Association for Continence (NAFC), 50 percent of men by the age of 60 experience symptoms of prostate enlargement. Also known as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), is an enlargement of the prostate that blocks the flow of urine through the urethra. For many men, the first sign of prostate enlargement are nightly trips to the bathroom, which can eventually work its way into daytime routines, too. Other symptoms include stream of urine, leaking or dribbling, frequent urination, urgency to urinate and straining to urinate are all symptoms of an enlarged prostate, according to WebMD. Serious problems can eventually arise, including urinary tract infections, blood in the urine, bladder stones, and in rare cases bladder and/or kidney damage can develop.
Natural remedies found to aid in prostate support, testosterone levels and other sexual health issues facing men as they age include saw palmetto, testosterone boosters and DIM (Di-indolylmethane).
DIM is a cruciferous extract found in small amounts in broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussesl sprouts, mustard greens, etc. DIM alters the detoxification of estrogen to reduce the proliferative 16-hydroxy estrone (16-OH E1) component, Dr. Baker explained.
Andro-DIM is a prostate specific supplement by Bio-Tech, that delivers estrogen-modifying power of DIM with a combination of prostate specific supplement components, said Dr. Baker. “Many products also have saw palmetto, lycopene, nettle extract and the zinc/copper combination all known to inhibit inflammation and androgen induced proliferative effect on the prostate. Studies on these are too numerous to count,” he continued.
“While estrogen is a minor hormone in males, it tends to rise as we age, and is aggravated by, while also promoting fat weight gain. And even in smaller amounts, it is the ratio of the 16-OH E1 to the more prostate (and breast) protective 2-hydroxy estrone (2-OH E1) that is the factor that drives thickening of benign tissue, and the potential for driving a precancerous cell change toward its potential of becoming a ‘successful tumor’. As we age, non-metabolized estrogen levels in the prostate increase, and optimizing its clearance, as DIM does, reduces the odds that estrogen will have adverse affects (benign enlargement or pro-carcinogenic).”
DIM also reduces the amount of sex binding globulin middle age males produce, allowing the body to use its testosterone more efficiently.
According to the University of Maryand Medical Center, saw palmetto is a palm-like plant with berries. In the early 1900s, men used the berries to treat urinary tract problems, and even to increase sperm production and boost libido. “Today, the primary use of saw palmett is to treat BPH,” the university said.
In addition, saw palmetto seems to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the prostate and may affect the level of testosterone in the body, perhaps reducing the amount of an enzyme that promotes the growth of prostate cells.
“Saw palmetto extract is among the most familiar and thoroughly researched botanicals in the men’s health category, with over 90 clinical trials published to date and considerable consumer awareness of its favorable effects,” said Kelly Heim, PhD, senior director, scientific affairs, of California-based Douglas Laboratories. A JAMA meta-analysis involving 18 randomized controlled trials and almost 3,000 men demonstrated significant support for urinary flow, which is one of the most common and challenging initial clinical objectives.
“As prostate enlargement problems mostly affects aging men, we suggest male consumers start taking supplements for prostate starting at the age of 40 instead of when symptoms such as urinary retention started to occur,” said Bryant Shu, president of New York-based Life Nutrition.
“Unique fatty acids found in the berry exhibit multiple mechanisms of action within the prostate, most notably a salutary effect on androgen metabolism, a pivotal regulator of prostate cell homeostasis. Douglas Laboratories’ Saw Palmetto Max-V offers 160 mg standardized to 30 percent fatty acids. This product is an easy way for practitioners to deploy a simple, straightforward, evidence-based approach with just two capsules per day,” Heim explained.
Prostate Power by Life Nutrition is a natural and complete solution for prostate and hair problems. This product is formulated with five clinically studied herbal extracts for prostate health including saw palmetto, lycopene, nettle, pumpkin seed oil and flower pollen. Different from some of the saw palmetto products in the market that encapsulate the ingredients, Prostate Power uses soft gels and standardized extract of saw palmetto to maximize the health benefits absorption.
“High levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is associated with prostate enlargement and male baldness. Studies have shown that saw palmetto and pumpkin seed oil are both rich in phytosterols that helps block 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, and hence easing urinary and hair loss problems,” Shu explained.
Eighty-two patients participated in an eight-week trial, taking one capsule of 320 mg saw palmetto extract daily. At the end of the treatment, the International Prostate Symptom Score was reduced from 14.4 to 6.9, sexual dysfunctions measured with the brief Sexual Function Inventory improved from 22.4 to 31.4.1
Ultra Uni-Pros-Trol from Douglas Laboratories provides 320 mg of standardized, supercritical CO2-extracted saw palmetto berry extract, along with other well-researched bioactives including standardized nettle root and pygeum extracts, highly bioavailable zinc and selenium, vitamin E and lycopene.
Shilajeet capsules, also known as mineral pitch, have at least 85 minerals in ionic form and have been used traditionally for genitourinary and immune support, as well as for its aphrodisiac properties. Shilajeet Mymiyo from Washington-based Ayush Herbs contains a perfect array of bioavailable minerals from this ancient remedy for the endocrine system, said Shailinder Sodhi, BAMS, ND, president of the company.
Sterols from the bark of Pygeum africanum support healthy prostaglandin and prolactin metabolism in prostate epithelial cells, Dr. Heim explained. Nettle root, which also contains sterols, may help maintain hormone balance in the prostate. The clinical value of nettle root is backed by several clinical trials, including a multicenter study of more than 5,000 men, which showed significant support for prostate function.
“A diversified prostate health regimen is often preferred, given the potential for synergy and cooperative effects on the multiplicity of signal transduction events and gene expression that maintain normal prostate function. The most critical micronutrients are selenium, vitamin E and zinc,” Heim said.
A testosterone booster could support an increase in not only sex drive, but in muscle regeneration and overall sense of well-being. Accelerated Intelligence offers RedT: Male Testosterone support, which contains chrysin, nettle extract, L-arginine and Norway Spruce extract, among other ingredients to help boost testosterone.
Douglas Laboratories’ TestoGain is specifically designed to support testosterone production and function. A key ingredient in the formulation is tongkat ali, an herb that has demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in maintaining testosterone levels in multiple studies. Maca root and icariin are other components of this formula that are backed by several clinical trials and centuries of use for libido and sexual performance.
Male Balance by Siddha Flower Essences helps to release toxicity in the pelvic area and remove emotional blockages relating to sexuality, said Jessica Hunter, creative developer at California-based company. “Male Balance sets the stage for optimal sexual function and restoration of youthful vigor. It helps men settle into the male form and be comfortable with being men, especially during puberty and middle age.”
According to Dr. Menolascino, men and women with cognitive decline are being found to have very low levels of all hormones. “We see great responses to hormone replacement and we are showing reversal of memory loss (called mild cognitive impairment) and there are clinical trials showing how replacing hormones as part of a complete protocol that is personalized based on genetics, nutrient deficiencies and hormone imbalance can reverse memory loss.”
Macuna Plus, by Ayush Herbs, is based on an ancient ayurvedic recipe designed to support the nervous system. This product contains valerian root for promoting healthy sleep, muscle function and brain support, in addition to the Mucuna seeds and roots, which are very nutritious and support male and female reproductive systems and kidney function, Dr. Sodhi explained.
“Men in their 50s and above should definitely consider brain health supplements to help improve focus, memory and the prevention or slowing down of brain degeneration,” Baudu said. Excelerol: Brain Health & Memory Supplements contain clinically tested ingredients that have been proven to improve brain health and function.
Ashwaganda capsules by Ayush Herbs include Indian Ginseng, which acts as an adaptogen by helping to maintain levels of immune function that are already in the normal range, in addition to providing brain support and thyroid function, explained Dr. Sodhi.
Additionally, mental health is not just linked with memory loss, but also with stress. According to Hunter, Stress Relief by Siddha Flower Essences is a product that helps people when they feel overwhelmed, but have no specific complaint. “Many times as we return to balance, we forget how out of balance we were. It is often our friends, family, coworkers and those around us who notice we are not as stressed, anxious or reactive as we used to be.” Stress Relief utilizes ingredients like lotus, white chestnut and beech.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), men are likely to report that their own stress has slight or no impact on their physical or mental health. Survey results (Stress and Gender: 2011) suggested that “the link between stress and physical health could be harder for men to recognize. Men are less likely than women to believe that it can have any impact upon their health,” APA reported.
However, the results also noted that men are more likely to report relying on playing sports as a stress management technique.
Joint Health & Muscle Mass
Sports nutrition staples, such as whey protein and branched chain amino acids, are applicable and beneficial at any age, particularly over 40 when the age-related decline in muscle mass is estimated to be at least 0.5 percent per year. Maintaining muscle mass has profound protective effects on cardiometabolic health and wellness into a man’s later years, Heim said.
Muscle aging is a systemic landscape involving an assortment of regulatory changes in signaling events that collectively dictate a progressive down-regulation of protein synthesis, coupled with nonselective catabolism of functional proteins, she explained.
“Depending on the level of physical activity, 1-1.5 g/kg body weight of total protein per day, in conjunction with a consistent, well-designed resistance training program, can noticeably moderate the functional and aesthetic impact of aging on muscle tissue,” Dr. Heim explained.
Compared to vegetable and even some animal proteins, the amino acid profile of whey protein is most conducive to maintaining positive nitrogen balance and supporting lean mass gains. Klean Isolate by Klean Athlete provides 20 grams of high quality whey protein isolate per serving. Branched chain amino acids (BCAA), which are rapidly depleted during exercise and turned over more rapidly with age, also support lean mass gains, recovery and athletic performance. The recently introduced Klean BCAA + PEAK ATP supplies a 2:1:1 ratio of the branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine, along with the clinically researched Peak ATP, which has been effective in supporting strength, power and muscle gains in studies.
Muscles & Joints by Siddha Flower Essences, was originally developed for martial artists to enhance athletic flow. Made from flower essences like comfrey, rose of Sharon and scarlet fritillary, Muscles & Joints wakes up the body’s “inner doctor” and encourages movement, Hunter said. “[It’s] great for sports, dance, walking, hiking, restless leg syndrome and travel when long periods of sitting creates stiffness.”
Sitting at the office and the tech-centered world has led to a lifestyle of sedentary people, having negative effects on body weight which affects not only joint and muscle health, but metabolic function as well. “We are seeing more obesity and increased fat—not just outside body fat but increased body fat leading to insulin resistance. We call this internal visceral fat, the ‘hot fat’ as this is what drives insulin resistance,” Dr. Menolascino said. In addition, he noted that he has begun calling Alzheimer’s disease ‘type 3 diabetes.’ Metabolic dysfunction, increased fatty liver and increased body fat and visceral fat can be seen in these patient populations.
The CDC noted that as of 2015, the percent of men 20 years and older with hypertension (measure high blood pressure and/or taking antihypertensive medication) was 32.6 percent (2011-2014).
According to Dr. Heim, studies suggest that diet and lifestyle in a man’s younger years affect cardiovascular and metabolic health later in life. Therefore, it is never too early to implement a basic regimen that includes a multivitamin, essential fatty acids and vitamin D.
In light of the depletion of nutrients from soil, a lot of conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables do not have adequate nutrition—this is one reason why a good daily multivitamin could support men’s health and ensure that they are getting the vitamins they need.
The Essential Male Pack from Douglas Laboratories is a multivitamin/mineral complex combined with antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, prostate support, nutrients and 2,000 IU of vitamin D3. Each once-daily packet provides all essential micronutrients for daily wellness, along with functional ingredients for prostate health, such as saw palmetto, pygeum, and lycopene. It also provides polyphenols from blueberry, strawberry and spinach extract for cardiovascular support.
SmartyPants Vitamins, based in California, now offers its first gummy vitamin formulated specifically for men called Men’s Complete. It contains 15 essential nutrients, omega-3 fish oil, including nutrients for heart health and prostate support all-in-one. CoQ10 for heart health, lycopene for arterial health and prostate support, zinc and selenium for prostate support.
“The ingredients found in Men’s Complete were chosen because they are nutrients that are difficult for some men to get consistently from diet alone,” said Michael Cleary, PhD, director of Research & Development for SmartyPants.
healthycell is a daily multi made with whole food ingredients, is a multi-nutrient system for cell health. It includes 90-plus vitamins, minerals and protective phytonutrients, combined with probiotics and enzymes for advanced cellular nutrition. There is an AM and a PM formula for a 24-hour cycle of nutrition, phytonutrients for different aspects of cell health, and absorption boosting ingredients, the company said.
Supplementation is just one part of the health maintenance makeup, health comes from a healthy diet, exercise/yoga/ meditation/breathing, mental/emotional health and supplements, said Dr. Sodhi.
“As medical science learns more about defining genetic ‘weak links’ earlier on, we will be even better able to define who needs nutritional augmentation starting in their teens or twenties, rather than waiting for the first major symptoms in mid-life, as is typically the case for most of us,” Dr. Baker said. In the meantime, Dr. Menolascino has a few natural approaches to recommend to men looking to obtain optimal health.
• Forty-minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise (fast walking, slow running, cycling, etc.) six days a week
• Reduce stress and increase family/partner support: changing jobs, hobbies, family schedules, etc.
• Eat a lot of vegetables, minimal carbohydrates, small servings of high quality meats, and no more than two alcoholic beverages a day
• Nutrient deficiency test and based on the results, take high quality supplements to regain balance
In addition, spending more time with patients is the key to learning about them. The goal is to understand each patient’s unique biochemistry and use the information to design precise treatments, and empower them to make healthier decisions. Treatment is a team effort between practitioner and patient.
“Tell a man to take a zinc supplement, and he will likely blow you off. Show him his testosterone levels are low and explain how zinc will help raise them and you’ll likely have a model patent who does exactly what you tell him to do,” Dr. Menolsacino said.
1 Suter A, Saller R, Riedi E, Heinrich M. Improving BPH Symptoms and sexual dysfunctions with a saw palmetto preparation. Results from a pilot trial. Phytother Res. 2013 Feb; 27(2):218-26.
For More Information:
Accelerated Intelligence Inc., www.acceleratedintellifence.org
Ayush Herbs, www.ayush.com
Bio-tech Pharmacal, Inc., www.biotechparmacal.com
Douglas Laboratories, www.douglaslabs.com
Siddha Flower Essences, www.siddhaflowers.com