Addressing the Unique Nutritional Needs of Men
When it comes to men’s health and supplementation, what are the “must-haves” to look for? Here we highlight some of those key vitamins, minerals, and herbs which help address the unique nutritional needs of men.
Zinc is often at the top of the list when we think of nutrients for men. The reason is that adequate zinc intake is associated with optimal production and regulation of testosterone. According to a 2018 review published in the Journal of Reproduction & Infertility, zinc is considered an “essential element for male fertility.”* The authors describe how zinc deficiency impedes spermatogenesis and may also negatively impact serum testosterone concentrations.
Heart health is a key issue for men and both CoQ10 and it’s reduced form ubiquinol help support cardiovascular function.* Because certain cardiovascular medications can deplete CoQ10, it’s important to address with supplementation. Beyond heart health, the health benefits of CoQ10 are extensive, including mitochondrial support and healthy aging in general. The authors of a 2018 review published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology explained that CoQ10 supplementation supports mitochondrial function and helps with bioenergetics.*
Vitamin D is another key nutrient to look for. We know it’s important for colon health, another important men’s health issue, but it also supports prostate health.* Several trials, including a 2017 observational study published in the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases demonstrate that vitamin D deficiency is associated with poor prostate health. In fact, the authors of a 2016 observational case-control study published in the journal Urology proposed that vitamin D status could be used as a potential marker of prostate health.
A good multivitamin may include all these nutrients in appropriate doses. However, there is one helpful mineral which is often taken separately- magnesium.
Adequate magnesium status is very important for heart health, for maintaining the heart’s electrical properties, helping to maintain normal cardiac rhythm, and for the relaxation of smooth muscle, which may affect blood pressure. Beyond this, it is instrumental for the proper maintenance of cellular membranes, functioning of the mitochondria, plays a key role in the body’s antioxidative pathways and is essential for bone health.*
Magnesium also helps balance blood glucose levels and aid in the production of cellular energy. It’s involved in numerous processes that affect muscle function including oxygen uptake, energy production and electrolyte balance. Research has shown that exercise induces a redistribution of magnesium in the body to accommodate metabolic needs. Strenuous exercise increases urinary and sweat losses which may increase magnesium requirements by 10-20%. There is evidence that marginal magnesium deficiency impairs exercise performance and amplifies the negative consequences of strenuous exercise (e.g., oxidative stress). This is relevant for everyone, but especially for active men.*
Prostate health is of special concern to men. There are several ingredients known to support prostate health.* Popular prostate formulas will include some or all of these:
- Saw palmetto berry extract (Serenoa repens at 85% fatty acids)
- Beta Sitosterol
- Stinging nettle root extract (Urtica dioica)
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Pomegranate fruit extract (Punica granatum)
- Flower pollen extract
Regarding male virility, there are some botanicals shown to have ergogenic activity in scientific studies. The authors of a 2016 review published in Pharmacognosy Review identified Eurycoma longifolia from Southeast Asia, also known as Tongkat Ali, or Long Jack, as an emerging herb that can help support performance and endurance. The authors of a 2017 review published in the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines conclude that there is convincing evidence that Eurycoma longifolia can help support male sexual health.*
Preliminary animal research shows that Tribulus terrestris extract can increase intracavernous pressure, which indicates it may help support erectile function.* Historically this herb has been used as an aphrodisiac.
It’s true that men have unique nutritional needs throughout their lifespans. It’s also true that there are many ways for integrative practitioners to support those needs with targeted, high-quality supplements and formulas for men.
Do J, Choi S, Choi J, Hyun J. Korean Journal of Urology. 2013;54(3):183-188.
Fallah A, Mohammad-hasani A, Colagar A. Journal of Reproduction & Infertility. 2018;19(2):69-81.
Hernandez-Camacho JD, Bernier M, Lopez-Lluch G, Navas P. Frontiers in Physiology. 2018;9:44.
Khanijo T, Jiraungkoorskul W. Pharmacognosy Review. 2016;10(20):139-142.
Murphy AB, Nyame YA, Batai K, et al. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases. 2017;20(1):55-60.
Thu, HE, Mohamed IN, Hussain Z, et al. Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines. 2017;15(1):71-80.
Zhang W, Zheng X, Wang Y, Xiao H. Urology. 2016;97:212-218.