Addressing the Unique Nutritional Needs of Men
Father's Day is almost here! When it comes to men’s health and supplementation, do you know what “must-haves” to look for? Zinc, vitamin D, CoQ10 and magnesium are some of the best supplements for men to incorporate.
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 because adequate zinc intake is associated with optimal production and regulation of testosterone. According to a 2018 review, 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, demonstrate that vitamin D deficiency is associated with prostate health concerns. In fact, the authors of a 2016 observational case-control study 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, supporting the heart’s electrical circuits, helping to support normal cardiac rhythm and for the relaxation of smooth muscle, which supports healthy blood pressure levels. 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 healthy 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)
Stinging nettle root extract (Urtica dioica)
Pumpkin seed oil
Pomegranate fruit extract (Punica granatum)
Flower pollen extract
With the popularity of herbals at an all time high, there are two botanicals men should consider including in their daily regimen - curcumin and ginseng. Everyone needs a good antioxidant, and curcumin or turmeric extract fills the bill. Because of the exceptional antioxidant activity of curcumin, it also supports healthy inflammatory balance.
Ginseng, known as “The King of Herbs” in Traditional Chinese Medicine has been widely used around the world for centuries, and truly lives up to its name. Ginseng supports a healthy HPA-axis, and healthy hormone levels, which translates into proven support for physical and mental energy and stamina, strength and athletic performance, general vitality and well-being, immune support and also healthy sexual function. And, it’s also a good antioxidant. Maybe it’s not new, but you can’t go wrong with the tried and true. The research on ginseng is massive and positive and if you have to pick just one herb for men? It’s likely ginseng.
It’s true that men have unique nutritional needs throughout their lifespan. 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.