Now more than ever, men want to be their best selves, which means putting their health and wellness first. Natural practitioners can offer both insight and supplements to help men be their best selves.
After a past that was often riddled with unhealthy habits and lifestyles, men are finally beginning to realize the importance of taking care of their health. For decades, it was usually considered “unmanly” to eat healthy, avoid alcohol and seek help for mental health issues. Although our culture has improved significantly in this sense, men are still sometimes told to “man up” in the face of mental or physical anguish.
According to www.statista.com, “In 2019, the life expectancy of men in the [U.S.] was 76.3 years, around five years less than that of women.” The leading cause of death for men in 2018, they continued, were heart disease and cancer. Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, whose practice is located in Sandy Hook, CT, noted that, in addition to heart disease and cancer, “diabetes or prediabetes with high blood sugar and carbohydrate intolerance, low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, obesity and fatty liver” are all common to men. The primary causes, she continued, are a “poor, pro-inflammatory American diet, sedentary lifestyle, high stress, poor sleep, alcohol and lack of quality connections.”
Noting that heart disease is the number one threat to men’s health, Dr. Leigh Vinocur, a board-certified emergency physician in Baltimore, MD, shared that “According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there are over 350,000 deaths, or one in four men, each year [due to heart disease].” She also added that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer.
Furthermore, according to statista.com, “In addition to physical disease, mental health issues are common among men in the U.S., with suicide ranking the eighth leading cause of death,” making them a serious risk factor that must be addressed. Lastly, “Men are often more likely than women to participate in behavior that puts their health at risk, through smoking and drinking alcohol for example, highlighting the need for men to be educated on and encouraged to lead healthy lifestyles.”
All is not lost, however; despite these sobering statistics, the tides continue to change for the better—more than ever, men are prioritizing their health needs without shame, whether they are physical or mental. This positive trend has been noticed by the natural products industry and naturopathic physicians, both of whom have been responding accordingly.
Trends/State of the Market
As far as COVID-19’s impact on the market, Dr. Vinocur noted that “According to the CDC, risk factors such as obesity contribute to severe disease and COVID-19 deaths, with obesity linked to poorer immune function and lung capacity. As of last year, the Brookings Institute reported 65,000 more men than women had died of COVID-19.” Ongoing research, Dr. Vinocur continued, suggests that the disease could have an impact on men’s fertility and sexual function, and that men are more at risk than women when it comes to COVID-19 complications. As more of these facts come to light, however, men are becoming more concerned with their health and the risks associated with inaction.
Dr. Fitzgerald has noticed a growing interest in longevity by men. “Men are really interested in biohacking, living long and well,” she stated. “COVID-19 has brought to consciousness that resilience is something we need to be working on daily. It’s not gifted to us in our genetics (with rare exception, our genes are not our destiny), it’s making day-to-day choices to eat a little better, move our bodies, connect with our loved ones and lower stress that keep us vital, healthy and happy.” Dr. Fitzgerald shared that she is happy to see the men’s health category grow as they become some of the biggest longevity seekers.
Dr. Vinocur also explained that “The current trend in men’s health is creating multidisciplinary clinics and collaborative approaches to men’s health that encompass male endocrine, surgical, urological, physical performance, and psychological and mental health issues.” In addition, “for men’s health today, the buzz word is ‘healthy aging’ with lifestyle changes … physicians have come together and created an organization called the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. It isn’t just about mortality and longevity that is important … focusing on prevention of disease, not disease treatment, is the cornerstone of healthy aging. That is why taking control of your health and living an active lifestyle is so critical.”
According to Suzanne Munson, MS, vice president of product development & compliance, Fair Haven Health, Bellingham, WA, “At least once every couple of years, there is a big story that gets national attention about declining sperm health … when these stories hit, it brings renewed interest in men’s health generally, and male fertility specifically, which then drives demand for related natural products.” Noting the small amount of research being done to determine the possible impact of COVID-19 on fertility, Munson stated that “it will be interesting to watch if a decline in sperm count or overall sperm health is observed among men who had been infected with COVID-19. If so, we expect the demand for male fertility supplements to increase.”
Cheryl Myers, chief of scientific affairs and education, EuroMedica, Inc., Green Bay, WI, has noticed the following trends: “the growing acceptance of supplements with the public in general, which drives more people to seek alternative solutions to support overall health; a greater awareness and knowledge about health overall; and the simple fact that men have specific health needs as they get older.” All of this increasing awareness is contributing to growth in the men’s health market.
Natural Ingredients and Lifestyle Solutions for Men’s Health
Dr. Fitzgerald listed a few natural supplements that are crucial for maintaining men’s health, including “omega-3 fatty acids at a dose of at least 2 g per day; vitamin D with K2 around 5,000 IU per day (check blood levels); magnesium (I like magnesium glycinate—around 600 mg at bedtime); and curcumin—depending on the product, take 500-1,000 mg per day.” She warned that although low testosterone is a common issue that men face, they should not take exogenous testosterone while living the standard American lifestyle without healthy changes, as “that testosterone can also be converted to estrogen” which can contribute to ‘“man boobs’ and abdominal adiposity and erectile dysfunction and increased risk of hormone sensitive cancers like prostate cancer.”
As far as lifestyle changes, Dr. Fitzgerald suggested “exercise in a balanced way, [choosing] whole foods [and sleeping] well” and noted that “stress is like gasoline on the fire of aging. We must take it seriously. Men are more likely to internalize the stress experience or otherwise downplay it. This does not make it go away—it worsens it.” Dr. Fitzgerald’s book, Younger You—Reduce Your Bio Age and Live Longer, Better, covers stress and several other topics pertinent to men’s health.
Dr. Vinocur concurred with Dr. Fitzgerald regarding the key foundational supplements that men should take for their health. She elaborated, “In the case of fish oils, omega-3 fatty acids are the important ingredients. They are key to the structure of every cell wall we have in our body, so supplementing your diet can help build and maintain a healthy body.” Dr. Vinocur also suggests taking saw palmetto for prostate health, which offers free fatty acids. “The scientific body of clinical evidence shows a high-quality saw palmetto oil extract that meets standards set by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) can provide benefits in men with lower urinary tract symptoms.” However, she cautioned, “it is important to note that most saw palmetto products sold on store shelves contain ground up berry powder, not the oil extract that has shown promising effect in studies.”
Furthermore, according to Dr. Vinocur, “we know that what is good for the heart is also good for the prostate. A good example is the Mediterranean diet.” She suggests that people avoid “a diet that is high in animal fat and red meat. Also avoid sugar-sweetened drinks, try cutting back on salt and watch your portion size. This will help you maintain a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI), which also will help keep your prostate healthy.” Cutting down on alcohol and tobacco products will also naturally contribute to better health.
As far as lifestyle, the most important key to health is staying active, according to Dr. Vinocur. “Regular exercise of at least 30 minutes a day of low-to-moderate intensity helps maintain your weight and an ideal BMI, which has been shown to decrease the risk of disease.” She also referenced a study performed by researchers in the Health Professionals Follow-up study, “a questionnaire completed by more than 30,000 men, [which showed] that there is an inverse relationship between physical activity and BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) symptoms. Men who were more active were less likely to suffer from BPH. Even low-to-moderate intense physical activity, such as walking regularly at a moderate pace, showed there were meaningful health benefits.”
Diana Parent, ND, naturopathic liason, Standard Process, Palmyra, WI, offered additional insight for lifestyle habits that can benefit men’s health, including balancing inflammation; supporting detoxification and elimination pathways while minimizing exposure to toxins; stress management; sleep hygiene; and supporting gut health with probiotics, fermented foods and dietary fiber. She also emphasized the importance of “B vitamins, vitamins D, C and K, calcium, potassium, magnesium and trace minerals” and beneficial ingredients including “Medicinal herbs like tribulus to support normal reproductive function; saw palmetto and stinging nettle to support prostate health; ashwagandha for neuroprotective effects; and Ginkgo biloba and gotu kola for healthy cerebral blood flow” as well as gut support products like probiotics, prebiotics and fiber.
Natural Practitioner Products for Men’s Health
Fairhaven Health, according to Munson, focuses on male fertility and offers 11 products. “Our flagship product is FertilAid for Men, but we have expanded our line of male fertility products significantly since then,” said Munson. “FH Pro for Men is our most popular product for male fertility for the practitioner market. It is an antioxidant-based supplement with more than 25 ingredients. It provides comprehensive baseline multivitamin support, plus L-cartine tartrate, L-arginine, CoQ10, zinc and lycopene.” She added that antioxidants are believed to help sperm health by lowering oxidative stress, which has been linked to suboptimal sperm health.
“Another product in the FH PRO line is FH PRObiotic, the first oral probiotic targeted specifically for male fertility. It includes six probiotic strains to replenish healthy bacteria in the body: Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus plantarum [and] Lactobacillus acidophilus for a total of 7.5 billion CFU,” said Munson. “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.” In addition, “it is now believed that the testicles have their own microbiome, and that men with different levels of sperm health and fertility have a different combination of bacteria.” As a result, it is now theorized that oral probiotics can support sperm health, and that by “providing healthy strains of bacteria, it changes the bacterial composition—shifting to a [healthier] ratio of beneficial to unfriendly bacteria—in the testicular microbiome.”
Céline Torres-Moon, science writer, Protocol for Life Balance, Bloomingdale, IL, stated that “a multi-vitamin formulated specifically for males is a good approach for ensuring that the nutritional needs specific to men are met. Often, these multivitamins also have additional beneficial ingredients for men, such as saw palmetto, lycopene and phytosterols, [all of which] help to support prostate health.”*
Protocol for Life Balance offers five products that are specifically designed for men, although many of their other supplements can support men’s health as well. The company’s Raw Maca contains the herb maca (Lepidium meyenii) which is “native to the Andes region of Peru, where it has a long history of use as both a food and a general energy tonic.”* It has also been shown by modern science to support healthy sexual activity in males without impacting endocrine function.* Protocol for Life Balance Raw Maca “is gelatinized to remove starch for a more concentrated product.” The Non-GMO (genetically modified organism) Project Verified vegetable capsules contain 750 mg organic raw maca root per capsule, equivalent to 4,500 mg fresh maca root.
Protocol for Life Balance also offers Ortho Prostate, “a blend of botanical and nutritional ingredients known to support healthy prostate function and normal urine flow.* Extracts of saw palmetto and stinging nettle root may help to support normal activity of aromatase enzymes and in turn, help to maintain the healthy function of prostate cells,*” Torres-Moon explained. Furthermore, “Lycopene is included to support proper cellular signaling, normal genetic expression and healthy prostate function.* Each two-soft gel serving of Ortho Prostate provides 10 mg of vitamin B-6 and 15 mg zinc, [as well as] 160 mg saw palmetto extract (berry) standardized to a minimum 85 [percent] fatty acids, 300 mg stinging nettle root extract, 1,000 mg pumpkin seed oil and 3 mg of lycopene.”
The company’s Clinical Strength Prostate-B “combines the botanical ingredients saw palmetto extract, lycopene and beta-sitosterol at clinical doses, with prostate supporting nutrients such as zinc, selenium, quercetin and vitamin D3.* This targeted nutritional support formula for the prostate promotes optimal urinary tract function and helps to maintain healthy prostate tissue,*” Torres-Moon elaborated.
Virility for Men features LJ100, “a potent, clinically evaluated, standardized extract of Eurycoma longifolia, commonly known as tongkat ali or long jack.” LJ100, stated Torres-Moon, “may support male reproductive function and healthy gonadal function.*” Furthermore, “Tribulus is another herbal ingredient that may promote a man’s normal glandular function.* This formula also contains ZMA, a unique formula of zinc and magnesium for the support of healthy immune, reproductive and neuromuscular functions.* This combination of ingredients in Virility offers enhanced energy levels, as well as overall support for men’s health.*”
Lastly, Protocol for Life Balance offers Ortho Multi Softgels for Men, which “delivers balanced nutrition for the support of optimal wellness and vitality,*” said Torres-Moon. In addition to a full range of daily vitamins and minerals, “Ortho Multi Softgels for Men includes broad-spectrum free radical defense, with CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid, grape seed extract, lycopene and lutein.* Saw palmetto extract, plant sterols and lycopene are included in this formula to support a healthy prostate.*” The formula also features chelated minerals, as well as coenzyme forms of B6 and B12 for maximal bioavailability, according to Torres-Moon.
EuroMedica offers a variety of products that can be used by men and women. One of the company’s newest men’s supplements, according to Myers, is Prostate and PSA Support,* which features “the same BCM-95 curcumin we use in our CuraPro supplements, an enhanced bioavailable curcumin combined with turmeric essential oil.” This combination improves absorbability by 700 percent and is backed by over 70 published studies, Myers stated. The supplement also includes “pomegranate seed oil that is a botanical source of omega-5 essential fatty acid, also known as punicic acid,” which has been shown to support healthy prostate function.* The formula also includes tannin-free grape seed extract “with highly absorbable oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), [which] can reduce the risk of oxidative stress and support healthy cells and testosterone balance.*” Silybin from milk thistle and vitamin D3, also shown to promote prostate health,* are also included in the formula.
The company also offers Male Sexual Health, featuring HRG80 red ginseng. “HRG80 red ginseng is hydroponically grown without pesticides and carefully tended in ultra-clean conditions. The roots of HRG80 ginseng are provided with the growing conditions and nutrients they need at exactly the right time and in exactly the right proportions … This special process helps HRG80 red ginseng deliver seven times the rare, noble ginsenosides than conventionally grown and processed ginseng supplements,” making it stand out from others. According to Myers, “the noble ginsenosides in HRG80 red ginseng have been shown in an in vivo scientific (Caco-2) study to be up to 17 times better absorbed than classic ginsenosides.” The supplement is a whole root ingredient rather than an extract, so all benefits of the root are present. Male Sexual Health also contains a botanical blend of apple polyphenols flavonoids from grape seed extract, as well as saffron extract. The company also released Red Ginseng Energy, which delivers HRG80 as a standalone botanical to help consumers deal with occasional stress and fatigue.*
Essential Multivitamin is another supplement offered by EuroMedica. “The B-vitamins in this formula are provided in a form that requires no conversion by the liver,” explained Myers. “They are the methylated, bioactive form. Since many people have trouble converting B-vitamins, especially B6, B12 and folic acid forms, we have provided them as pyridoxial-5-phosphate, methylcobalamin and methylfolate, respectively. That means that as soon as they are absorbed, they are ready to support daily energy, cognitive health and healthy metabolism.” Essential Multivitamin also includes minerals chelated to the amino acid glycine for better absorption, Myers added. “The importance of minerals is easy for people to underestimate, and this is where a practitioner’s guidance can be particularly helpful.”
Bladder Manager is ideal for practitioners looking to support bladder strength and urinary tract function for their male patients. “It features an Angelica archangelica leaf extract that shows remarkable support for healthy bladder function.*”
Lastly, EuroMedica offers EurOmega-3 for cardiovascular health.* “One of the unique things about EurOmega-3,” according to Myers, “is that it is not a fish oil, but instead provides omega-3s from salmon (and only salmon) naturally bound to phospholipids for excellent bioavailability. They are from the head of the fish, not the fat.” The rest of the fish’s body is filleted for food. “They also include a spectrum of naturally occurring peptides that can help strengthen the cardiovascular system, reduce occasional anxiety and promote mental well-being.*”
Standard Process, according to Dr. Parent, offers ProstaCo by MediHerb, “a supplement that contains saw palmetto, nettle root and crataeva in a pumpkin seed oil base to provide prostate support. These herbs have been traditionally used in herbal preparations to support healthy urinary tract and prostate gland function [and] healthy bladder function.”* Used in combination, the herbs in ProstaCo “can address the androgen pathways, bladder tone and inflammation and therefore help support the urinary tract, bladder and prostate function,” explained Dr. Parent.
Standard Process’s Symplex M “is a testicular health supplement that supports the healthy function of the testes and the adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands,*” said Dr. Parent. It “provides uniquely derived nucleoprotein-mineral extracts that support cellular health* and contains a combination of key ingredients.” Tribulus, another supplement offered by the company, contains “an extract of Tribulus terrestris herb that supports reproductive function and healthy libido in women and men. This herb is traditionally used in herbal preparations to support healthy libido in women and men; promote normal menstrual flow; tonify and promote vitality; and promote an overall feeling of well-being,*” explained Dr. Parent.
Lastly, Standard Process offers Saw Palmetto 1:2 to “support urinary tract function and prostate gland function. Saw Palmetto has [also] been traditionally used in Western herbal preparations to act as a nutritive tonic to the reproductive system and support healthy bladder function.*”
Clearly, there are several natural products available from which practitioners can choose for their male patients, many of which have proven efficacy in addressing many of their particular needs.
Advice for Practitioners
“[An] important factor to help men with their overall health is to ensure they understand and have health literacy,” said Dr. Vinocur. “Creating a better understanding of risk factors that affect disease is key. And while not all risk factors are controllable, such as family history and heredity, helping patients optimize and prioritize the risk factors they can control, such as getting a good night’s rest, staying active, eating healthy, staying social and regularly seeing their doctor, should be emphasized.”
Munson shared that Fairhaven Health has product flyers and script pads, and it provides sample product upon request. “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,” advised Munson.
Protocol for Life Balance, according to Torres-Moon, provides marketing support for practitioners. “Incorporating supplements is an integral part of the holistic approach to patient care. As part of lifestyle adjustments, incorporating supplements to support a healthy diet is crucial to ensure the maintenance of men’s health.* The choice of supplements will come from a careful evaluation of patients’ individual and family history, current diet, lifestyle, and in many cases, the results of laboratory and imagery tests.”
Myers stated “the primary thing that practitioners can do is listen. Really pay attention to what a patient is talking about when they discuss their health and then tailor a regimen that is appropriate. Whether that’s a recommendation for prostate support, daily essential nutrients, improved sexual performance, there are health topics that can be tough for men to talk about. I think that people need reassurance that they’re being heard. More than ever, a practitioner’s mission to treat the whole patient is exactly what’s most needed.”
“Practitioners should become familiar with the products they are recommending for their patients, and if possible, try the product on themselves or someone who is able to give feedback,” Dr. Parent opined. “While different health care practitioners may have an affinity for certain products, any practitioner is able to incorporate these products into their practice.” Furthermore, “Practitioners should never underestimate the importance of developing rapport with their male patients and use positive, nonjudgmental language. As practitioners we know men are less likely to go to the doctor, so always trying to make the experience positive so they will want to come back for a return visit. Also, giving your male patient information about their health and offering options can help the patient be successful in their health journey and improve compliance.”
All in all, although men are taking their physical and mental health into their own hands more than ever, there is always work to be done. Practitioners should take note of the plethora of different products available to them, while also considering the reluctance some men may feel when trying to seek help. As Dr. Fitzgerald advised, “If a man seeks out your care, meet them where they are at and support them in their journey.”
*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
• In 2019, the life expectancy of men in the [U.S.] was 76.3 years, around five years less than that of women.
• According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there are more than 350,000 deaths, or one in four men, each year [due to heart disease].
• In addition to physical disease, mental health issues are common among men in the U.S., with suicide ranking the eighth leading cause of death.