7 Ways to Help Prevent Prostate Cancer

Based on the findings of more than 200 studies conducted over nearly 20 years, these 7 steps are completely doable actions you can take to not only help prevent prostate cancer, the disease that will strike every 1 in 9 men, but also improve your overall health.

1. Prevent prostate cancer: diet

Your food choices play a significant role in the development of cancer, including prostate cancer. Many dietary recommendations are involved in this one suggestion. For example:

  • Maximize your intake of fresh (organic when possible) fruits and vegetables, which typically contain high levels of anti-inflammatory and anticancer substances.
  • Focus on healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids rather than saturated and trans fats. Monounsaturated fats are in olives and olive oil while omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold water fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, herring, oysters, sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.
  • Choose whole foods, which don’t contain preservatives, artificial colors or flavorings, or other chemicals.
  • Choose plant protein rather than animal protein. Plant protein provides all of the nutrition you need to support and maintain your prostate health. Protein is found in vegetables, soybeans, legumes, some grains (e.g., amaranth, quinoa), nuts, and seeds. Ease these foods into your menu.

2. Prevent prostate cancer: beware of supplements

Some nutritional and herbal supplements can be helpful for the prostate, such as saw palmetto and stinging nettle. Yet men need to be aware of the dangers associated with a few common supplements. Calcium supplements, for example, have been associated with an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer. Vitamin E supplements also are not recommended, as they’ve been shown to increase the risk of the disease among healthy men. Use of selenium supplements also have been associated with an increased risk of dying of prostate cancer among men with nonmetastatic disease.

3. Prevent prostate cancer: manage stress

Although stress may not have a direct impact on cancer development, chronic stress can weaken the immune system, cause fluctuations in hormonal balance, and make you more susceptible to disease. Stress reduction can include a wide range of activities, such as regular exercise (which has been shown to slow the spread of prostate cancer), tai chi, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, massage, reflexology, and progressive relaxation, among others.

4. Prevent prostate cancer: drink green tea

Green tea contains catechins, substances shown to help prevent the growth of cancer cells and encourage them to self-destruct (apoptosis). Catechins also can interrupt the actions of enzymes that promote the spread of cancer.

In 2017, a systematic review and meta-analysis found that higher (more than 7 cups daily) consumption of green tea was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. This study was significant because it was the first meta-analysis of green tea catechins and the incidence of prostate cancer.

5. Prevent prostate cancer: stay hydrated

Drink enough water. Sounds simple, right? Yet it’s so easy to become dehydrated and not even realize it. Do it often and the effects can be cumulative. Staying properly hydrated can support prostate health and thus be a player in the prevention of prostate cancer.

6. Prevent prostate cancer: watch your weight

Research has shown that being overweight is associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer as well as a lower survival rate. One example comes from the International Journal of Cancer in 2017 in which the authors found strong associations between weight gain and metabolic changes and prostate cancer progression.

In fact, many studies have pointed to the relationship between weight (especially abdominal weight) and progression of prostate cancer. Scientists have been trying to understand the reason for this relationship, including an increase in the estrogen-to-androgen ratio and enhancement of inflammation, which in turn contributes to conditions favorable to prostate cancer. This is an area that requires much more research.

7. Prevent prostate cancer: avoid toxins

Preservatives, pesticides, and other toxins have become a part of everyday life. They have infiltrated our food, water, air, clothing, furniture, cleaning products, personal care items, and more. These substances are taking a toll on your health, including your prostate. The best preventive measure is to choose all-natural products, including organic foods, untreated furniture, chemical-free health and cleaning products, and pesticide-free garden and pest control.

Bottom line

Men need to be aware of the daily steps they can take to help prevent the development of prostate cancer. The suggestions provided here are also relevant for men who may already have been diagnosed with the disease to help ward off spread of the disease and improve quality of life.

References

Dickerman BA et al. Weight change, obesity, and risk of prostate cancer progression among men with clinically localized prostate cancer. International Journal of Cancer 2017 Sep 1; 141(5): 933-44

Esser KA et al. Physical activity reduces prostate carcinogenesis in a transgenic model. Prostate 2009 Sep 15; 69(3): 1372-77

Guo Y et al. Green tea and the risk of prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore) 2017 Mar; 96(13): e6426

Jian L et al. Protective effect of green tea against prostate cancer: a case-control study in southeast China. International Journal of Cancer 2004 Jan 1; 108(1): 130-35

Kenfield SA et al. Selenium supplementation and prostate cancer mortality. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2014 Dec 12; 107(1): 360

Klein EA et al. Vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer: the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). JAMA 2011 Oct 12; 306(14): 1549-56

World Health Organization. Q&A on the carcinogenicity of consumption of red meat and processed meat. 2015 October

What Does It Mean to Have Prostate Cancer?

If you have heard the words “You have prostate cancer” from your doctor, many thoughts and questions probably ran through your mind.

  • Why me?
  • What exactly is prostate cancer?
  • How bad is it?
  • Do I need treatment and if so, what are the options?
  • Will I be able to work? Have sex?
  • Am I going to die?

It would take volumes to answer these questions. However, here are some thoughts on each of them that can serve as launching points for further discussion between you and your physician and family.

Why me?

This is a common question regardless of what disease someone develops. Check out these statistics and see where you fit into the picture.

  • Prostate cancer affects 1 out of every nine men during their lifetime.
  • In 2019, an estimated 174,650 new cases of the disease will be diagnosed in American men, and about 31,620 men will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • Prostate cancer is rare among men younger than 40, as the average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66
  • Sixty percent of cases occur in men aged 65 or older.
  • Older age is a main factor in the development of the disease.

Why did you get prostate cancer? That’s difficult to say. Genetics and ethnicity play a role, as the disease is at least 60 percent more common among black men than non-Hispanic white men. Other risk factors include age, location (more frequent in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and the Caribbean islands), and family history.

For example, if your father or brother has had prostate cancer, you have twice the risk of developing the disease than do other men without this family history. The risk is slightly higher if your brother rather than your father has had the disease.

A few other risk factors for prostate cancer include:

  • Diet: Research indicates that eating a diet that contains high-fat dairy or red meat may increase a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer.
  • Obesity: The obesity risk seems to operate at two levels. One is that obesity itself is linked to the development of the disease, and another is that it increases a man’s risk of dying of advanced prostate cancer.
  • Agent Orange: Men who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War appear to be more prone to develop aggressive prostate cancer. This relationship is still being explored by researchers.

What exactly is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate gland. When mutations of DNA occur, they can cause the cells in the prostate gland to grow abnormally and out of control. Eventually those cells can develop into a tumor.

How bad is it?

The stage at which prostate cancer is discovered is important because it determines if and how treatment should occur, which treatments are most appropriate for you, and what you can expect along this journey with prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is generally a slow-growing disease. Currently, nearly 3 million men in the United States alone are living with prostate cancer.

That’s not to say prostate cancer isn’t a very serious disease and doesn’t demand immediate attention. However, the type of attention depends on the stage of cancer, age of the patient, overall health, life expectancy, and the quality of life the patient desires.

Prostate cancer is staged based on the extent of the disease, the PSA level, and Gleason score at the time of diagnosis. The stages are:

  • T0: No evidence of a tumor in the prostate
  • T1: Although a doctor cannot feel changes in the prostate during examination, a tumor may be discovered during surgery or needle biopsy for another prostate problem, such as an enlarged prostate.
  • T2: The tumor is confined to the prostate and is large enough to be felt during a digital rectal exam.
  • T3: The tumor has grown through the prostate on one or both sides of the prostate. It also may have expanded into the seminal vesicles, which are the tubes that transport semen.
  • T4: The tumor has not grown or it has grown into the rectum, pelvic wall, of other nearby structures except the seminal vesicles, external sphincter, or several other areas.

The bottom line is, your doctor should explain to you the extent of the disease. To make that determination, clinicians use a range of diagnostic tools, including the PSA, digital rectal exam, prostate biopsy, biomarker tests, PCA3, and transrectal ultrasound test.

Do I need treatment and if so, what are the options?

You and your doctor will work together to determine whether your prostate cancer requires treatment. The choice of treatment, if any, depends on the severity of the disease.

For many men, and especially the majority who show an early, slow-growing cancer, a treatment approach called Active Surveillance is sometimes recommended. This involves regular monitoring of the disease using various tests but no active treatment unless there is progression. Other main options may include:

  • Surgery in the form of prostatectomy (removal of the prostate) for cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate
  • Chemotherapy, the use of drugs for prostate cancer that has spread beyond the gland. It is sometimes used along with hormone therapy
  • Hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy, for cancer that has spread too far to be cured using surgery or radiation, before radiation to help make treatment more effective, or along with radiation for men at greater risk of cancer returning after treatment
  • Radiation, which may be used as the first treatment for low-grade cancer limited to the prostate, along with hormone therapy for cancer that has spread beyond the prostate, or in advanced cancer to help keep it under control
  • Cryotherapy, or the use of extremely cold temperatures to freeze and kill prostate cancer cells, may be used for early-stage disease. It is sometimes used if cancer has returned after radiation therapy.

Will I be able to work or have sex with prostate cancer?

For the vast majority of men, having prostate cancer does not end their ability to continue working or engaging in sex, although depending on the severity of the disease, they may need to make adjustments in both of these areas. For example, men who undergo chemotherapy may experience side effects from treatment that cause them to lose time at work because of nausea, fatigue, or weakness.

The ability to have sexual intercourse while living with prostate cancer can depend on the treatment. Prostatectomy and radiation, for example, are associated with a significant risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.

However, men who become stressed over their diagnosis, even if they have low-risk disease and are on active surveillance, may experience performance anxiety. Therefore, men with prostate cancer who are concerned about their ability to continue sexual activity should discuss their concerns not only with their partners but with mental health professionals if necessary so they can find ways to continue their sex lives.

Am I going to die?

According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 man in 41 will die of prostate cancer. Once a man has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, the five-year relative survival rate for different types and stages of the disease are as follows. If the five-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of the disease is 90 percent, it means that men with prostate cancer are, on average, about 90 percent as likely as men without the disease to live for at least five years after diagnosis.

  • Localized (no sign of disease outside of the prostate), nearly 100%
  • Regional (cancer has spread to nearby structure or lymph nodes), nearly 100%
  • Distant (cancer has spread to bones, lung, liver, or other distant parts), 30 percent

Even though prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American men, most men who have been diagnosed with the disease don’t die from it.

Bottom line

Men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer need to educate themselves and their families about the disease. Consultation with one or more trusted physicians is recommended, and men should continue to stay abreast of the latest findings and research in the area of prostate cancer and treatment.

Reference

American Cancer Society. Key statistics for prostate cancer

Can Testosterone Replacement Therapy Harm Your Heart?

When men begin to experience signs and symptoms of low testosterone, such as loss of libido, waning muscle strength, encroaching abdominal fat, tiredness, brain fog, and erectile dysfunction, some seek out testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). After all, all those internet, television, and radio ads can’t be wrong, right? Got low T? Replacement therapy can solve your problems and make you feel like a man again.

Although TRT may seem like a great way to boost your T levels, there are some things you should know about testosterone therapy and the heart.

Use of testosterone replacement therapy

Given the high interest among aging men to take testosterone therapy, understanding the risk is important and should be discussed thoroughly between doctors and their patients. In fact, while reported rates of low testosterone among men have been static, prescriptions for TRT have climbed over the past two decades.

This rise in TRT reflects how the hormone is being increasingly prescribed and used for indications outside of the FDA approved reasons. According to the FDA, those reasons are as follows: “Testosterone is FDA-approved as replacement therapy only for men who have low testosterone levels due to disorders of the testicles, pituitary gland, or brain that cause a condition called hypogonadism. Examples of these disorders include failure of the testicles to produce testosterone because of genetic problems, or damage from chemotherapy or infection.”

Testosterone therapy and the heart

According to the findings of a new study from researchers at McGill University in Montreal, men who took testosterone therapy were at an increased risk of mini strokes (TIAs), stroke, or cardiac arrest during the first two years of taking the therapy. Data from about 15,400 British men aged 45 and older who had age-related low testosterone levels were evaluated for the study.

When compared with men who did not take testosterone replacement therapy, those who did had a 21 percent higher risk of cardiovascular events, including stroke, mini-stroke, or heart attack. This increased risk declined after two years of the hormone therapy.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Christel Renoux, of the departments of epidemiology, biostatistics, and occupational health and the department of neurology and neurosurgery at McGill, explained that the evidence on long-term clinical benefits of using testosterone therapy in healthy men who have “modestly declining levels” of the hormone is limited. “We strongly recommend that clinicians proceed with caution when considering prescribing [testosterone therapy].”

Not all studies say TRT carries a cardiovascular risk. Some research suggests its use is associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, although past evaluations have noted an increased risk.

Between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2010, for example, more than 44,300 men with androgen deficiency (serum testosterone less than 300 ng/dL) were evaluated. Of these, 8,808 (19.8%) had ever taken TRT and 35,527 (80.2%) had not. At a mean follow-up of 3.4 years, the risk of cardiovascular events was lower in the men who took TRT than those who did not. 

More recently, in a May 2019 article appearing in Nature Reviews Cardiology, the authors noted that the true impact of testosterone replacement therapy on cardiovascular health remains uncertain.

In fact, the experts made the following observations:

  • Some retrospective studies have shown a greater risk of cardiovascular events in men who are taking TRT, and the risk rises early after treatment begins
  • Meta-analyses of randomized, controlled trials have demonstrated conflicting findings, and this is likely due to various causes, including studies that have been too short to adequately evaluate cardiovascular events
  • The first trial (TRAVERSE) that is considered to be properly powered to evaluate cardiovascular findings among men using testosterone replacement therapy was initiated in 2018, and it will be approximately 10 years before the results become available

Until medical professionals have more information about testosterone and the impact on the heart, the authors recommend that physicians make their decisions about prescribing testosterone therapy on a case-by-case basis, especially in light of any personal or family history of cardiovascular problems. Doctors also should thoroughly discuss the risks and benefits of TRT with their patients.

Look for an alternative? Click here to read about how to find natural and effective testosterone supplements.

References

Cheetham TC et al. Association of testosterone replacement with cardiovascular outcomes among men with androgen deficiency. JAMA Internal Medicine 2017 Apr 1; 177(4): 491-99

Food and Drug Administration. FDA drug safety communication: FDA cautions about using testosterone products for low testosterone due to aging; requires labeling change to inform of possible increased risk of heart attack and stroke with use.

Gagliano-Juca T, Basaria S. Testosterone replacement therapy and cardiovascular risk. Nature Reviews Cardiology 2019; 16: 555-74

Loo SY et al. Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular safety of testosterone replacement therapy among aging men with low testosterone levels: a cohort study. American Journal of Medicine 2019 Apr 3

Are Testosterone Supplements Effective?

We hear a lot in the media about how men should be worried about low testosterone levels, the symptoms that are attributed to them, and how they should consider taking testosterone replacement therapy to address those symptoms. Yet there are alternatives to this treatment approach, which is really supposed to be limited to men with diagnosed hypogonadism. So then one of the questions becomes, are testosterone supplements effective as an alternative?

What are testosterone supplements?

Unlike testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which provides individuals with the hormone directly, testosterone supplements, which are sometimes referred to as testosterone boosters, work by increasing testosterone or related hormones. In some cases, they prevent testosterone from being transformed into estrogen. In this latter case, prevention of the conversion helps maintain T levels.

Natural testosterone supplements

Numerous herbs and nutrients have been shown to be effective as testosterone supplements. Here are those that have provided some positive research results.

D-aspartic acid

This natural amino acid has been shown to boost testosterone levels by increasing the amount of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. Both of these hormones have an impact on testosterone levels. 

Other research has suggested the amino acid may play boost testosterone in certain groups of men but not others. An Australian team noted that while d-aspartic acid was associated with increases in total testosterone, it did not result in changes in resistance-trained men.

Fenugreek

You may be familiar with this herb because of its abilities to ease digestive problems, but it also can boost testosterone. Here are two studies that have demonstrated this benefit.

Sixty healthy men took either 600 mg of fenugreek or placebo daily for six week. At the study’s end, those who took fenugreek experienced an improvement in strength. The majority of men also showed increased sex drive (81% of the group), better sexual performance (66%), greater energy (81%), improved well-being (55%).

In another study of 30 college-age men, all the participants performed resistance training four times a week. Half of the men took fenugreek and the others took a placebo. Levels of both free and total testosterone rose in the fenugreek group but declined slightly in the placebo group. Men in the fenugreek group also showed a greater increase in strength and fat loss.

Ginger

Ginger has a reputation for reducing inflammation and aiding digestion, but it also has an impact on testosterone. Both animal and human studies have demonstrated this ability.

For example, several animal studies have shown that ginger increased luteinizing hormone levels in diabetic rats and can nearly double T levels. Human study results showed a 17 percent increase in testosterone levels and a nearly twofold rise in luteinizing levels in 75 infertile men who took ginger daily for three months.

Tribulus terrestris

This herb has been used for centuries by several cultures to improve sex drive and enhance testosterone levels. Research concerning the ability of the herb to boost T levels is mixed, and much of the data comes from animal studies.

However, one three-month study of men with erectile dysfunction found that the herb improved self-reported ratings of sexual health and boosted testosterone levels by 16 percent. Thus far the research indicates that tribulus can help increase testosterone in individuals who have low T or impaired sexual function, but it does not seem to increase testosterone in individuals with normal levels.

Vitamin D

A significant percentage of adults are deficient or low in vitamin D, which can have a significant impact on health. One of those effects is associated with testosterone levels. Research indicates that increasing your body’s levels of vitamin D can result in higher testosterone levels and improvements in associated symptoms.

In a year-long study of 65 men, half took 3,300 International Units of vitamin D daily, while the others took placebo. Vitamin D levels doubled in the vitamin D group and testosterone levels climbed about 20 percent when compared with the placebo group.

Zinc

Zinc is a very active mineral, involved in more than 100 chemical processes. Although the relationship between zinc and testosterone is not fully understood, what experts have shown is that men who restrict zinc intake have lower testosterone levels than do healthy men. At the same time, men deficient in zinc who take supplements show a rise in T levels.

In a 2019 study appearing in Aging Male, researchers pointed out that “medicinal doses of zinc may increase total testosterone and improve sperm count,” even though “the current body of evidene does not suggest broad recommendations regarding the use of zinc for all types of hypogonadism.”

Are testosterone supplements effective?

There are arguments on both sides of this question. In a recent study from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, experts evaluated 150 testosterone supplements and reported that 90 percent claims to boost testosterone. However, less than 25 percent had data to support their claims.

Testosterone supplements that have scientific data to support their claims can be effective. Men need to look for products that provide such references and talk to a medical professional about how these supplements can best help them.

References

Clemesha CG et al. Testosterone boosting supplements composition and claims are not supported by the academic literature. World Journal of Men’s Health 2019 Jun 14; 37:e34

Ghlissi Z et al. Antioxidant and androgenic effects of dietary ginger on reproductive function of male diabetic rats. International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition 2013 Dec; 64(8): 974-78

Melville GW et al. The effects of d-aspartic acid supplementation in resistance-trained men over a three month training period: a randomized controlled trial. PLoS One 2017 Aug 25; 12(8): e0182630

Prasad AS. Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults. Nutrition 1996 May; 12(5): 344-48

Santos HO, Teixeira FJ. Use of medicinal doses of zinc as a safe and efficient coadjutant in the treatment of male hypogonadism. Aging Male 2019 Feb 15:1-10

Sellandi TM et al. Clinical study of Tribulus terrestris Linn in oligozoospermia: a double blind study. Ayu 2012 Jul; 33(3): 356-64

Steels E et al. Physiological aspects of male libido enhanced by standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum extract and mineral formulation. Phytotherapy Research 2011 Sep; 25(9): 1294-300

Topo E et al. The role and molecular mechanism of D-aspartic acid in the release and synthesis of LH and testosterone in humans and rats. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2009 Oct 27; 7:120

Wehr E et al. Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clinical Endocrinology (Oxford) 2010 Aug; 73(2): 243-48

Wilborn C et al. Effects of a purported aromatase and 5a-reductase inhibitor on hormone profiles in college-age men. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Medicine 2010 Dec; 20(6): 457-65

The Impact of Testosterone on Male Physique & Health

As young males progress through adolescence into young adulthood, they experience the tell-tale signs of hormonal changes. Testosterone’s impact on male physique and other characteristics becomes quite evident: growth of body hair, deepening voice, maturation of the penis and testicles, increased muscle mass, and quickening libido, among others.

During those early years, testosterone levels are peaking, but as the saying goes, what goes up must come down. Around age 30, testosterone levels begin a slow and gradual decline, approximately 1 percent per year. That decline has varying effects on a man’s physique, depending on a number of factors.

Testosterone impacts male physique: what gives?

As guys get older and T levels decline, the impact of the hormone on male physique changes. A small amount of circulating testosterone transforms into a form of estrogen called estradiol. As T levels decline, men also produce less estradiol. Therefore, changes and symptoms experienced by men who have falling testosterone levels may be partly or entirely due to the drop in estradiol levels.

Of course, testosterone levels in any given man may be low, within normal range, or high. Although there are guidelines physicians and patients follow to help them determine where a guy falls on the T spectrum, testosterone levels are highly individual, as are each man’s response to them. Here we are concerned with the two extremes, and this is how low and high testosterone levels may affect you.

Low testosterone

Perhaps you are already experiencing some of the symptoms that are commonly associated with low testosterone: lack of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, loss of muscle tone and mass, accumulation of body fat (especially around the abdomen), hair loss, mood changes, trouble sleeping, decrease in testicle size, fatigue, bone loss, and mood changes.

All of these changes associated with low testosterone, even those not directly linked to physique, have an impact on a man’s physical, emotional, and mental health. Yet enhancing your testosterone levels naturally is highly recommended over taking testosterone replacement therapy, which is medically recommended only for men who have a medical condition that causes excessively low testosterone levels (hypogonadism).

High testosterone

Men who artificially pump up their testosterone levels by using anabolic steroids, testosterone, or related hormones to improve their athletic performance or muscle mass may experience some significant problems associated with excessive testosterone, such as:

  • Low sperm counts
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Acne or other skin problems
  • Fluid retention (swelling of the feet, ankles and legs)
  • Weight gain
  • High cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Headaches
  • Liver disease

However, you also can help boost your testosterone levels naturally by adhering to certain lifestyle modifications, such as following a healthy all-natural diet, exercising and lifting weights (even light ones can help), reducing stress, getting sufficient vitamin D, sleeping at least 7 hours per night (which is when testosterone replenishes itself), and taking natural supplements that may help boost testosterone levels. These approaches are not associated with the side effects found with other ways to raise T levels. 

What the research says

In a study appearing in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers looked at the effect of taking testosterone enanthate (200 mg/week) for six months in13 nonathletic men. Eight healthy men served as controls. Factors considered were bone turnover fat-free mass, bone density, muscle strength, serum testosterone, among others.

Concerning male physique, use of testosterone resulted in an increase in fat-free mass, a decrease in fat mass, changes in muscle strength, and a rise in testosterone levels. The authors concluded that “these changes do not support the use of androgens for enhancing athletic performance.”

Bottom line

It’s well known that testosterone impacts male physique, as demonstrated here. Testosterone’s effect on male health can depend on many factors, ranging from what a man’s “normal” testosterone levels is, to his age, diet, exercise habits , and other lifestyle factors. If you talk to a doctor about symptoms of low testosterone, be sure to ask about the benefits and side effects of any suggested treatment plan and to discuss the impact of lifestyle changes and the use of natural supplements, a combination that can help balance a man’s testosterone levels without the use of medical intervention.

References

Harvard Health Publishing. Testosterone—what it does and doesn’t do. 2015 July

Young NR et al. Body composition and muscle strength in healthy men receiving testosterone enanthate for contraception. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1993 Oct; 77(4): 1028-32

Low Energy and Low Testosterone – What’s the Deal and How to Beat It?

Do you feel tired all the time, lack motivation, experience brain fog, and get sleepy during the day? Many medical and lifestyle factors can cause these symptoms, but when we are talking about men, one of those factors can be low testosterone. In fact, low energy and low testosterone can be a significant problem for men as they grow older and their T levels decline.

The hormone testosterone is responsible for many processes, during adolescence and throughout adult life, including maintaining muscle, producing sperm cells, libido, and generating energy. Although declining testosterone levels can have an impact on these and other factors as a part of normal aging, it’s not normal for testosterone to drop so low that fatigue becomes a way of life.

Symptoms of low testosterone
Low energy or fatigue is just one of the symptoms of having low testosterone. Others include:
• Depression
• Irritability
• Anemia
• Hot flushes
• Erectile dysfunction
• Decline in body hair growth
• Decrease in muscle mass
• Development of gynecomastia (man boobs)
• Trouble concentrating
• Loss of bone mass (osteoporosis)

If you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, talk to your doctor about having your T levels checked. All it takes is a simple blood test.

How to remedy low energy and low testosterone
If you want to boost your testosterone levels and your energy along with it, you may be tempted to listen to the commercials telling you to jump on board the testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) train. However, testosterone replacement therapy is FDA approved only for men who have low T levels associated with disorders of the pituitary gland, testicles, or brain that cause hypogonadism. The safety and benefits of using TRT for symptoms of low T for aging reasons has not been established. TRT also may increase a man’s risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Instead, you can help battle low energy and low testosterone with natural options. It is recommended you adopt all of these lifestyle tips because they can work in synergy and improve your results.

Get checked out. Talk to your doctor about any medical conditions or medications that could be causing your low energy and low testosterone. Thyroid disease, sleep apnea, depression, insomnia, heart disease, diabetes, and anemia are associated with fatigue and/or low T, as are the following medications: opioids, some antidepressants, statins, ketoconazole, cimetidine, spironolactone, and chemotherapy. Discuss with your doctor lifestyle changes and alternative medications, if needed, to help you overcome the low energy and low testosterone that is affecting your quality of life.

Try natural testosterone supplements. Numerous herbs and nutrients have been shown to help boost testosterone levels naturally on various levels. Those ingredients include L-arginine, avena sativa, beetroot, beta-sitosterol, L-carnitine, L-citrulline, fenugreek, ginkgo biloba, green tea extract, pygeum africanum, resveratrol, tribulus terrestris, vitamin D, and zinc. Rather than take these substances individual, your best bet is to take one supplement that contains all or nearly all of them.

Improve your diet. Kick up your energy and T levels by keeping saturated fat intake low and fruits, vegetables, and other whole natural foods high on your menu. Alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum: two drinks daily is considered moderation, but less is even better.

Stay hydrated. This is a simple tip that many men overlook, especially if they are exercising, working outdoors, or are elderly. Dehydration can cause fatigue and lower your energy levels. Carry a stainless steel water bottle and drink from it frequently.

Get quality sleep. Seven to eight hours every night is highly recommended. You need sleep to produce testosterone. If you are experiencing sleep apnea, get it treated. Your doctor can order a sleep study if sleep apnea is indicated.

Get help for depression. Depression, low energy and low testosterone often go hand-in-hand, so it’s important to address depression. If you are treated medically for depression, talk to your doctor about medications that are not in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class, as these can interfere with libido and sexual performance.

Exercise. Regular physical activity raises testosterone levels. Be sure to choose activities you enjoy so you’ll be more likely to stick with it. You’ll feel more energized, improve your overall health, enhance muscle strength, and even drop some weight.

Bottom line
If you’re experiencing low energy or fatigue, low testosterone may be a reason. These natural testosterone and energy boosters can alter your life for the better if you’re willing to commit to change. The challenge is out!

References
Bergh SJ, Giraldi A. Sexual dysfunction associated with antidepressant agents. Ugeskr Laeger 2014 May 26; 176(22).
Food and Drug Administration. FDA drug safety communication: FDA cautions about using testosterone products for low testosterone due to aging; requires labeling change to inform of possible increased risk of heart attack and stroke with use. 2018 Feb 26
McHenry J et al. Sex differences in anxiety and depression: role of testosterone. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 2014 Jan 35(1): 42-57
Metcalf E. Does working out affect testosterone levels? WebMD 2015

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Should Men Take Them?

Articles about omega-3 fatty acids is all over the internet. It seems there’s a new story about this important nutrient just about every week. If you’re among the nearly 19 million Americans who takes an omega-3 supplement in the form of fish oil (the typical way), then you may find yourself checking out the latest research on the topic. We’re going to talk about that here.

If you don’t take an omega-3 supplement, then it may be time for you to see why this supplement gains so much attention. Chances are unless you are a regular consumer of fatty cold water oily fish, you should be taking an omega-3 supplement since the body can’t make these fatty acids, so food and fish oil supplements are the only sources.

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

The two most prevalent omega-3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). A third omega-3, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is found in foods other than fish, such as walnuts, flax seed, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, canola oil, and tofu. However, the body must convert ALA into EPA and DHA, and the conversion rate is very low.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there’s insufficient data available to give recommended intake for EPA and DHA. However, many organizations recommend a range of 250 mg to 500 mg daily of EPA and DHA for healthy individuals. Higher amounts are usually recommended for people who have specific health conditions, such as heart disease. For ALA, the recommended intake is 1.1 to 1.6 grams. 

Why men should take omega-3 supplements

Heart health. Since heart disease is the number one killer of men in the United States and many other places around the world, research pointing to the heart-healthy properties of omega-3s is especially relevant. A 2017 Harvard University study reported that omega-3s are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and urged individuals to substitute saturated fatty acids with unsaturated fats, such as omega-3s. In a 2018 review, the authors noted that the American Heart Association recently expanded their Class II recommendations, stating that treatment with omega-3 fatty acids for cardiovascular disease is reasonable.

Prostate cancer. Numerous studies have shown that DHA has an ability to shrink prostate tumors, reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and enhance the impact of the chemotherapy drug, cisplatin. Now a recent study has discovered the processes by which this omega-3 fatty acid can help in the prostate cancer fight.

Without getting too technical, it appears that DHA induces the inhibition of cancer cell growth and cell suicide of prostate cancer cells that are dependent on something called the Hippo pathway. This knowledge may open the door to new therapies for prostate cancer. Until then, omega-3 fatty acids seem to be a wise supplement choice.

Memory support. Use of omega-3 supplements have been found to be helpful in individuals who have mild Alzheimer’s disease. In younger individuals (ages 18 to 25) without dementia, taking fish oil supplements daily for six months resulted in a 23 percent increase in working memory.

Depression. In a recent (December 2018) study from Spain, investigators found that moderate intake (500 to 1,000 mg daily) of omega-3 fatty acids was significantly associated with a lower prevalence of depression. This is half of the dose suggested by many organizations. In an Italian meta-analysis and review that involved 31 studies and more than 255,000 individuals, the authors reported that dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with lower risk of depression.

Eye health. Approximately 11 million people in the United States alone have macular degeneration, and omega-3 fatty acids may be able to help. In a study of more than 114,000 adults, those with a higher intake of omega-3s were more likely to delay or prevent development of this devastating eye condition.

Australian researchers conducted what is believed to be the first study ever to show that daily use of omega-3s can reduce intraocular pressure, which is a risk factor for the potentially blinding eye disease, glaucoma. The dose used was 1,000 mg EPA plus 500 mg DHA and 900 mg ALA.

Weight loss and metabolism. Weight gain is a concern as men age, especially among those with heart disease, diabetes, or respiratory conditions. Use of fish oil supplements may help boost metabolism and result in less accumulation of fat and weight loss, based on the findings of an animal study. In a human study, adults who switched to fish oil from other fats showed a reduction in body fat mass index, which indicated that omega-3s have an ability to reduce body fat and prompt the fatty acids to produce energy (i.e., burn calories).

Immune system. Maintaining strong immune function is critical as men age, and omega-3s may play a part. A study appearing in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology indicated that DHA can enhance the activity B cells, which are critical for optimal immune system health.

Diabetes. Approximately 13 million men in the United States alone have diabetes, with up to 95 percent of them having type 2 disease. A number of studies have indicated that omega-3s can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes as well as prevent complications that are associated with it. One study, for example, found that adults with diabetes who took 500 mg omega-3s daily or ate two servings of fatty fish every week were nearly 50 percent less likely to develop diabetic retinopathy when compared with those who consumed less.

Another way fish oil may help with diabetes is to improve insulin sensitivity. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that adults who took fish oil showed an increase in the levels of the hormone adiponectin, which is a strong marker for insulin sensitivity.

Bottom line

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements in the form of fish oil are beneficial for men’s health in a variety of ways. However, you want to be sure to take products from reputable suppliers. Look for supplements that have been PBC tested, sustainably sourced, and contain no preservatives, artificial colors, or allergens.

While the Food and Drug Administration states that 3,000 mg daily of omega-3s is the upper limit for safety, the European Food Safety Authority says 5,000 mg is safe. Keep these figures in mind when taking omega-3 supplements, as these fatty acids can cause excessive bleeding and blood thinning in some people.

References

Aucoin M. Fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids and prostate cancer: a systematic review. Integrated Cancer Therapy 2017 Mar; 16(1): 32-62–YES

Bright Focus Foundation. Age-related macular degeneration: facts and figures

Canhada S et al. Omega-3 fatty acids’ supplementation in Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review. Nutritional Neuroscience 2017 May 3:1-10–YES

Couet C et al. Effects of dietary fish oil on body fat mass and basal fat oxidation in healthy adults. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 1997 Aug; 21(8): 637-43—YES 

Downie LE, Vingrys AJ. Oral omega-3 supplementation lowers intraocular pressure in normotensive adults. Translational Vision Science & Technology 2018 May 1; 7(3): 1

EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies. Scientific opinion on the tolerable upper intake level of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA). EFSA Journal 2012 Jul 27; 10(7)

Elagizi A et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular health: a comprehensive review. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases 2018 May-June; 61(1): 76-85

Gurzell EA et al. DHA-enriched fish oil targets B cell lipid microdomains and enhances ex vivo and in vivo B cell function. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 2013 Apr; 93(4): 463-70–YES

Hu Z et al. Docosahexaenoic acid inhibit the growth of hormone-dependent prostate cancer cells by promoting the degradation of the androgen receptor. Molecular Medicine Reports 2015 Sep; 12(3): 3769-74

Kyoto University. Fish oil helps burn fat by transforming fat-storage cells into fat-burning cells. 2015 Dec 18

Narendran R et al. Improved working memory but no effect on striatal vesicular monoamine transporter type 2 after omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation. PLoS One 2012 Oct 3—YES

National Institutes of Health. Omega-3 fatty acids. Accessed June 21, 2019.

Sala-Vila A et al. Dietary marine w-3 fatty acids and incident sight-threatening retinopathy in middle-aged and older individuals with type 2 diabetes. Prospective investigation from the PREDIMED trial. JAMA Ophthalmology 2016; 134(10): 1142-49—YES

Sanchez-Villegas A et al. Seafood consumption, omega-3 fatty acids intake, and life-time prevalence of depression in the PREDIMED-Plus Trial. Nutrients 2018 Dec 18; 10(12): pii:E2000

Wang DD, Hu FB. Dietary fat and risk of cardiovascular disease: recent controversies and advances. Annual Review of Nutrition 2017 Jun 23—YES

Wang J et al. FFAR1- and FFAR4-dependent activation of Hippo pathway mediates DHA-induced apoptosis of androgen-independent prostate cancer cells. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 2018 Nov 30; 506(3): 590-96

Wu J et al. Dietary intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid and risk of age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalology 2017 May; 124(5): 634-43—YES

Wu MHY et al. Effect of fish oil on circulating adiponectin: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2013 Jun; 98(6): 2451-59

8 Prostate Supplement FAQs & What You Should Know

You may have been thinking about taking a prostate supplement but you’re not sure what to take. Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, or prostatitis, or you may be interested in keeping that walnut-sized gland as healthy as possible. So your interest may be preventive.

In any case, you may have some questions about prostate supplements. After all, there are numerous products from which to choose, and the information may be confusing or lacking in specificity. Maybe your healthcare provider is not familiar with prostate supplements, in which case you should find a professional who can help you make your final purchasing decision to ensure you are getting a product that is right for you.

At the same time, you can do some research on your own, and that’s where this article comes in. Here are 8 FAQs on prostate supplements to help you get started on your search for the optimal prostate product for you.

1. Why should I take a prostate supplement?

You should consider taking a prostate supplement if you:

  • Have already tried conventional treatments for a prostate condition and you want to complement your efforts
  • Do not want to take any conventional medications. This is, of course, a personal decision. However, you should take this approach only if you are under the guidance of a medical professional, especially if you have a prostate condition or disease
  • Want to enhance or maintain your current prostate health. Taking a prostate supplement may be an effective way to help prevent future prostate problems.

2. How do I know if a prostate supplement is reputable?

You should consider several factors when looking for a reputable prostate supplement. One is transparency. Is there a way to contact the company and speak with a representative about their products? If the product is online, can you clearly see the product label and ingredients?

Another important factor is, are the claims made by the manufacturer backed up with scientific evidence? The producer should provide references to support the ingredients used in their product, and you should be able to search for and read the evidence for yourself. 

Yet another factor is certification. Look for products made in manufacturing facilities that are 100 percent FDA and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified. It is also recommended that the producer be NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certified. NSF certification guarantees that the supplement’s contents match those printed on the label, that all the ingredients in the supplement have been listed on the label, and that there are no unacceptable levels of contaminants in the supplement.

Finally, choose a supplement that does not contain synthetic or artificial ingredients or fillers.

3. How long does it take for prostate supplements to work?

That depends on the supplement and the issue you are addressing. Remember that prostate supplements are not medications, and that natural substances can take longer to initiate noticeable results. You may experience results in a few days or a few weeks. If you don’t notice any improvement after 30 days, you may need to find a different prostate supplement.

4. What prostate supplement ingredients may help with an enlarged prostate?

If you have been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate (aka, benign prostatic hyperplasia), there are several natural ingredients that can complement your management strategy. The following ingredients are among those most studied for an enlarged prostate. Although these herbal remedies can be purchased individually, it is often best to use a supplement that combines several herbs to take advantage of the synergy of the product.

Beta-sitosterol: This substance is found in many plants, including corn oils, soybeans, peanuts, rice bran, and wheat germ. Although beta-sitosterol will not have an impact on the size of your prostate, it may help improve urinary flow and allow you to better empty your bladder. In a review of four studies involving more than 500 participants, researchers reported that beta-sitosterol improves urinary flow and urological symptoms.

Pygeum africanum: The bark of the African plum tree (Prunus africana) is the source of this herbal remedy. Some studies have indicated that it may help men with nocturnal urinary urgency (nocturia), improve urine stream, better empty the bladder, and go to the bathroom fewer times during the day. Prunus africana bark may contain atranorin, atraric acid, beta-sitosterol, ferulic acid, and N-butylbenzene sulfonamide, substances that have been shown to improve the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

Rye grass pollen extract: Evidence that rye grass pollen extract is helpful in managing an enlarged prostate is limited. In one review that involved 163 men, rye grass pollen was compared with placebo. Use of the pollen extract was associated with a significant increase in self-rated improvement and reduced need to get up at night to urinate when compared with placebo. In a subsequent study that enrolled 444 men, the pollen extract resulted in an improvement in overall urinary symptoms, including nocturia.

5. What prostate supplement ingredients may help with prostatitis?

Many of the symptoms of prostatitis are similar to those of an enlarged prostate, so some of the natural remedies are the same. However, there are a few different ingredients you should look for in a prostate supplement that may help manage this condition.

Beta-sitosterol: See question on enlarged prostate

Green tea extract: So far, the research on green tea and prostatitis has focused on animal models. The findings have indicated that the catechins in green tea have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects on prostatitis. This effect was better when the catechins were altered using nanotechnology. Other work has shown that catechins combined with the antibiotic ciprofloxacin (Cipro) resulted in significant improvements in prostatitis symptoms when compared with placebo.

Quercetin: Animal study results point to the value of using quercetin against prostatitis. According to a recent study published in Prostate, quercetin helps protect against CP/CPPS, which is mediated by anti-oxidation, anti-inflammation, and specific signaling functions in the body.

Rye pollen extract: See question on enlarged prostate

Saw palmetto: Numerous studies have explained the benefits of taking saw palmetto for management of prostatitis symptoms, especially those associated with the most common form of the condition, chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS). In a 2017 report, for example, use of 320 mg saw palmetto daily for 12 weeks resulted in dramatic improvement in lower urinary tract symptoms and in quality of life.

Zinc: The prostate has a very high concentration of zinc, which indicates that this mineral is important for the integrity of this gland. Research shows that taking zinc supplements can help individuals with chronic prostatitis because of its anti-bacterial and immune-modulatory actions in the body.

6. What prostate supplement ingredients may help with prostate cancer?

Prostate supplements should not be used as a replacement for conventional prostate cancer treatment. However, they can be a significant complementary addition to your current treatment strategy. Be sure to discuss your plans to use prostate supplements with your physician.

Green tea: Numerous studies have shown that high consumption of green tea is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. One such study includes a systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2017. That study was the first meta-analysis that looked at the consumption of the active ingredients in green tea (catechins) and the incidence of prostate cancer. The authors found that “higher green tea consumption was linearly reduced PCa [prostate cancer] risk with more than 7 cups/day and green tea catechins were effective for preventing PCa.”

Resveratrol: This antioxidant and phytonutrient has been demonstrating much promise in the fight against prostate cancer. In 2019 alone, there have been numerous animal studies showing how resveratrol can not only inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells but also suppress spread of the disease and promote cell death (apoptosis). Effective doses of resveratrol have not yet been determined.

Vitamin D: The body transforms vitamin D into several factors that help prevent the spread of prostate cancer cells as well as their reproduction. A number of studies also indicate that low levels of vitamin D are more likely to be seen in men with prostate cancer than in those without the disease, and that vitamin may help lower PSA levels. However, several studies have noted that high doses of vitamin D are not recommended.

Zinc: Taking zinc supplements may reduce the risk of developing advanced prostate cancer. In animal studies, human prostate cancer cells were exposed to zinc, and the cells were prone to undergo cell suicide. Zinc also has been shown to be a player in the regulation of prostate cancer cell growth.

7. What prostate supplement ingredients are recommended for overall prostate health?

Look for a prostate supplement that offers a variety of support. The main ingredients for a prostate supplement include beta-sitosterol, green tea extract, Pygeum africanum, vitamin D, and zinc (see details about each above). Saw palmetto and pumpkin seed oil are also sometimes suggested.

8. How do I know if my prostate supplement will interact with medications or other supplements?

If you plan to take a prostate supplement (or any supplement for that matter), you should talk to a knowledgeable healthcare professional about any possible drug and/or supplement interactions. This is especially important if you have any medical issues that may be impacted by your use of the supplement. Naturally, you can do your own research online to uncover possible interactions or contraindications, but it’s always best to check with a professional; if not your doctor, then talk with a pharmacist.

References

Costello LC, Franklin RB. A comprehensive review of the role of zinc in normal prostate function and metabolism; and its implications in prostate cancer. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 2016 Dec 1; 611:100-12

Goodarzi D et al. The efficacy of zinc for treatment of chronic prostatitis. Acta Med Indones 2013 Oct; 45(4): 259-64

Guo Y et al. Green tea and the risk of prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore) 2017 Mar; 96(13): e6426

Jang YG et al. Resveratrol inhibits DHT-induced progression of prostate cancer cell line through interfering with the AR and CXCR4 pathway. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2019 Jun 8; 192:105406

Lee YS et al. Synergistic effect between catechin and ciprofloxacin on chronic bacterial prostatitis rat model. International Journal of Urology 2005 Apr; 12(4): 383-89

MacDonald R et al. A systematic review of cernilton for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. BJU International 2000 May; 85(7): 836-41

McNicholas T, Kirby R. Benign prostatic hyperplasia and male lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). BMI Clinical Evidence 2011 Aug 26; 2011.

Petrou S et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation in prostate cancer: a systematic review of randomized control trials. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research 2018 Feb; 88(1-2): 100-12

Ramakrishnan S et al. Association among plasma 1,25(OH)2D, ratio of 1,25(OH)2 D to 25(OH)D, and prostate cancer aggressiveness. Prostate 2019 Jul; 79(10): 1117-24

Shahvazi S et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Hormone and Metabolic Research 2019 Jan; 51(1): 11-21

Thompson RQ et al. Chemical comparison of Prunus africana bark and pygeum products marketed for prostate health. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis 2019 Jan 30; 163:162-69

Wilt TJ et al. Beta-sitosterol for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a systematic review. BJU International 1999 Jun; 83(9): 976-83

Yoon BI et al. Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects of nanocatechin in a chronic bacterial prostatitis rat model. Journal of Infection and Chemotherapy 2010 Aug 7

Men Over 40 Should be Taking These Supplements – Here’s Why

As we get older, our hormone levels fluctuate, our lifestyle choices undergo transitions, and the types of stressors that impact us shift—it’s all a part of life. Family, financial, employment, and social demands are different from those a decade or more ago. Yet while all of this is occurring, we often forget that our nutritional needs are changing as well.

How are you addressing those changing nutritional needs? Only you can answer that question for yourself, but if statistics are any indication, adults in American are deficient in many important nutrients. Based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and other sources, for example, 95 percent of adults don’t meet the daily requirements for vitamin D, 94 percent don’t get enough vitamin E, 61 percent don’t get enough magnesium, and 49 percent are low in calcium.

Here are 9 supplements all men who are over 40 should consider taking based on their individual lifestyle habits. Keep in mind that even when consuming a healthy diet on a regular basis, various environmental stressors—physical and psychological—can take its toll on your body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients.

Calcium

Most of us know about how important calcium is for strong bones and teeth, but its role in heart, muscle, and nerve function, hormone regulation, blood clotting, and blood pressure is critical as well. Given the high percentage of adults who do not get enough calcium from food, supplementation seems to be a viable option. 

A word of caution concerning calcium supplementation for men. Some research, including a study of nearly 400,000 men and women followed for more than 12 years, found that men who took more than 1,000 mg of calcium supplement daily were 20 percent more likely to die of heart disease than their peers who did not take calcium. This increased risk of death was not seen in women nor in getting calcium from food.

Therefore, men who are not getting sufficient calcium from food should either boost their calcium-rich food intake or be sure they limit their calcium supplementation to no more than 1,000 mg daily.

Coenzyme Q10

Although your body produces coenzyme Q10, the production levels decline as you get older. Benefits of this antioxidant include helping in the fight against cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease, as well as slowing the progression of aging. A daily dose of 100 mg is suggested. However, if you are taking statins, you should talk to your doctor about increasing the dose to 200 mg because statins reduce coenzyme Q10.

Fiber

The role of fiber in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease should not be underestimated. Fiber helps eliminate cholesterol and the accumulation of plaque in the arteries. It also has been found to be a key player in reducing the risk of colon cancer, a disease that is the third cause of cancer deaths among men. Men should strive to get between 25 and 35 grams of fiber daily from food. If you fall short of this goal, all-natural fiber supplements that contain whole husk psyllium, flax seed, chia seed, and oats are suggested.

Fish oil

Unless you eat at least two servings of fatty fish every week, chances are you are not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are critical for men over 40 because of the rising risk of heart disease and stroke in this population. Omega-3s help keep triglyceride and blood pressure levels low and also work to decrease inflammation.

Although there’s no established dose of omega-3 fatty acids, a common recommendation is for 1,000 mg daily for health men and 2,000 to 4,000 mg for those who have heart disease. Check with your healthcare provider before starting a regimen of fish oil supplementation.

Folic acid

This B vitamin is often associated with women’s health because adequate levels are necessary for pregnant women to help prevent certain birth defects. However, folic acid also is a key factor in preventing clogged arteries because it helps regulate homocysteine, an amino acid that increases the risk of blood clots. Other duties of the B vitamin include DNA synthesis and hormone balance.

The recommended daily intake of folic acid is 400 micrograms daily. If you are using medications for acid reflux or heartburn, such as proton pump inhibitors (i.e., Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec), you risk folic acid deficiency.

Magnesium

This mineral is involved in more than 300 biochemical activities in the body, including blood pressure control, muscle relaxation, anxiety and depression relief, lowering insulin resistance, reducing inflammation, lowering insulin resistance, calcium absorption, and supporting bone strength, among others. Men who experience muscle cramps and spasms, especially associated with exercise, may be low in magnesium. The RDA for magnesium for men is 400 to 420 mg daily. 

Probiotics

A healthy gut is critical at any age, so there’s nothing magical about age 40. However, it’s important to get into the habit of nourishing and fortifying your immune system and intestinal flora as you get older. If you haven’t started already, now’s the time. Benefits you may notice quickly are better digestion and regularity. Probiotics also may lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure and assist in weight loss.

Look for probiotic supplements that contain about 10 or more species and strains. No standard dosing has been established, but take at least 10 to 20 billion CFUs daily as a maintenance program and higher doses if you are battling digestive issues.

Vitamin B12

We begin to lose optimal ability to absorb this essential vitamin as we age, so supplementation should be considered. Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy nervous system function, production of red blood cells, and energy production. If you consume partial or complete plant-based diet, then you will likely need to take a supplement because nearly all sources of this vitamin are from animals. You can get vitamin B12 from plant foods that have been fortified with it, such as plant beverages and cereals.

Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy blood and brain function. The recommended daily intake is 2.4 mg.

Vitamin D3 

While insufficient vitamin D affects most adults, it is especially important for men as they age because it is an essential part of testosterone production. Vitamin D also enhances energy levels and sex drive and is a significant player in protein synthesis, tissue repair, and fat burning. All of these factors work in synch, and the unifying feature is getting enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D also has a big role in bone health, as it, along with calcium, are critical for structural integrity. Too little vitamin D can be a factor in the development of osteoporosis down the road.

Experts do not agree on the amount of vitamin D supplementation nor the blood levels of the vitamin men should have for optimal health. The Institute of Medicine says 600 International Units (IUs) is a sufficient daily dose for the vast majority of people. However, an independent analysis of data used by the Institute established that most people need 8,895 IU daily to reach vitamin D values of 50 nmol/L, considered to be a healthy level by many health professionals.

Before starting a vitamin D3 supplement program, you should have a blood test to determine your vitamin D levels. Your healthcare provider can help identify the best vitamin D dose for your needs.

Bottom line

As you age, your physical and psychological needs change and evolve. You need to make adjustments to your nutritional intake to ensure you are keeping up with those changes. Men older than 40 should consider taking supplements to help meet those changing nutritional needs. 

References

Environmental Working Group. How much is too much? Appendix B: Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies in the US. 2014 Jun 19

Fulgoni VL 3rd at al. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: where do Americans get their nutrients? Journal of Nutrition 2011 Oct; 141(10): 1847-54

Larsson SC. Are calcium supplements harmful to cardiovascular disease? Comment on “Dietary and supplemental calcium intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality: the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. JAMA Internal Medicine 2013; 173(8): 647-48

Khalesi S et al. Effect of probiotics on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Hypertension 2014 Oct; 64(4): 897-903

La Fata G et al. Probiotics and the gut immune system: indirect regulation. Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins 2018 Mar; 10(1): 11-21

NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. National Cancer Institute

Papadimitriou DT. The big vitamin D mistake. Journal of Preventive Medicine & Public Health 2017 Jul; 50(4): 278-81

8 Top FAQs on Testosterone and Testosterone Supplements

It’s a fact of nature: testosterone levels in men decline as they get older. On average, a man’s level of this hormone peaks around age thirty and then begins to drop gradually. After age 40, levels decline by about 1.6 percent per year thereafter. That’s not a cause for gloom and doom as some commercials or men’s magazines will have you believe. In fact, many men fare quite well as their testosterone levels get lower.

However, men also should not become complacent about their declining T levels either. It’s a good idea to ask your doctor to check your T levels. A simple blood test is all it takes.

What does testosterone do?

During puberty, testosterone is the hormone that promotes the maturity of male sex organs, facial and other body hair growth, deepening voice, increasing sex drive, and denser muscle development. Throughout a man’s life testosterone plays a role in regulating sex drive, bone mass, red blood cell and sperm production, body fat distribution, erection firmness, and muscle strength, mass, and tone.

A small amount of testosterone is transformed into a form of estrogen called estradiol. As men get older and testosterone levels decline, they also produce less estradiol.

Testosterone levels rise and fall during the day. Levels are typically highest in the morning, which is when some men experience the most interest in sex.

What are some signs and symptoms of declining testosterone levels?

The signs and symptoms of declining testosterone can include things like an increase in abdominal fat, weight gain, reduction in muscle tone and strength, loss of body hair, lower sex drive, fatigue, anemia, hair loss, decline in bone density, mood changes, poor memory, erectile dysfunction, and low sperm count. Every man responds differently to his falling numbers because numerous factors are involved, including lifestyle habits (e.g., diet, exercise, sleep, stress, smoking, drug use, weight), current health status, genetics, and what is considered normal testosterone for him.

Is there a magic testosterone level below which men begin to experience noticeable signs of low T?

No. A normal, healthy testosterone level varies from man to man. Ten men with the same testosterone levels can all be at different levels of body fat, muscle strength, sex drive, and so on. A low testosterone number for you may be normal for someone else. Experts have not reached a consensus on what constitutes low testosterone.

Generally, the so-called normal range of testosterone in males is about 270 to 1,070 ng/dL, with an average level of 679 ng/dL. Some researchers, however, suggest that the healthiest testosterone levels are between 400 and 600 ng/dL.

Are testosterone supplements and testosterone replacement therapy the same thing?

No. Testosterone supplements typically are over-the-counter products that contain ingredients designed to prompt an increase in testosterone levels. They usually contain herbal or other natural ingredients (e.g., nutrients, amino acids) that can have an impact on testosterone levels. Because they are not prescription medications, testosterone supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as drugs are. Therefore, you should look for reputable manufacturers of testosterone supplements.

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) consists of the hormone delivered to the body as an injection, transdermal patch, mouth patch, or gel. TRT has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in men who have symptoms of low testosterone and who have verifiable low blood levels of the hormone, or hypogonadism. It is not approved for use in men who have low testosterone because of aging. 

Does testosterone replacement therapy have any side effects?

Yes. Those side effects may include:

  • Decline in sperm count, which can cause infertility
  • Higher risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Increase in breast tissue (man boobs)
  • Testicle shrinkage
  • Increased risk of blood clots
  • Acne and oily skin
  • Unwanted hair growth
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Abnormal rise in red blood cells (erthrocytosis)

In addition to these side effects, men who have certain medical conditions should talk to their doctor before starting testosterone replacement therapy. Those conditions include obstructive sleep apnea, severe urinary tract symptoms that are associated with an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), elevated red blood cell counts, or severe congestive heart failure.

Besides aging, what else causes a decline in testosterone?

Several situations can cause testosterone levels to drop, either permanently or temporarily. They include:

  • Treatment for cancer
  • Injury to the testicles
  • Presence of HIV or AIDS
  • Testicular tumors
  • Pituitary disorders
  • Inflammatory conditions such as sarcoidosis or tuberculosis
  • Rigorous exercise (temporary decline)
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Too much sugar in your diet
  • Poor stress management
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, including food additives and chemicals in personal care and household cleaning products

What ingredients should I look for in a testosterone supplement?

You want a supplement that provides organic ingredients, has no added fillers, and is formulated to help restore testosterone to more natural levels. Among the natural herbs and nutrients that have been shown to have an impact on testosterone levels are beta-sitosterol, boron, fenugreek, green tea extract, magnesium, saw palmetto, stinging nettle, tongkat ali, Tribulus terrestris, vitamin D, and zinc. Look for a testosterone supplement that contains as many of these ingredients as possible.

What can I do to enhance the benefits of a testosterone supplement?

Although a high-quality testosterone supplement can greatly support testosterone levels, certain lifestyle habits can enhance the benefits. They include focusing on an all-natural food diet, getting sufficient sleep (your body needs sleep to produce testosterone), manage stress, limit alcohol, lose weight if overweight, don’t smoke, participate in both aerobic and anaerobic exercise several times a week, and avoid exposure to environmental toxins, including food additives and chemicals in personal care and household products.

References

Davis CP. High and low testosterone levels in men. MedicineNet 2019 Mar 29

MacGill M. Why do we need testosterone? MedicalNewsToday 2019 Feb 6

Tsujimura K. The relationship between testosterone deficiency and men’s health. World Journal of Men’s Health 2013 Aug; 31(2): 126-35