Mens Health News & Blog

The Impact of Testosterone on Male Physique & Health

As we age, T levels decline and the impact of Testosterone on the male physique changes

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

 

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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

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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

 

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8 Prostate Supplement FAQs & What You Should Know

Are you considering a prostate supplement? Here’s what you need to 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

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

As you age, your physical and psychological needs change and evolve.

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

 

 

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8 Top FAQs on Testosterone and Testosterone Supplements

It’s a fact of nature: testosterone levels in men decline as they get older.

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

 

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Let Probiotics Set You Free This Independence Day

The true meaning of Independence Day in the United States is a celebration of independence from British colonial rule, which took place on July 4, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress. Today we typically celebrate Independence Day—aka the 4th of July—with fireworks, parades, concerts, ball games, and food—lots of food at barbeques, picnics, ball parks, and from street vendors.

Consider, for example, a typical backyard barbeque. There are hot dogs, hamburgers, spare ribs, sausage, cole slaw, baked beans, potato salad, potato chips, corn on the cob, soft drinks, and beer. Ball park and street vendor fare is similar.

Not exactly healthy.

Everyone deserves to celebrate, but it’s also important to do so responsibly. Processed meats, prepared foods that sits out in the heat for hours, sugary beverages, junk food, exposure to preservatives and other synthetic additives—all of these can take a toll on your health. So you may want to let probiotics help set you free this Independence Day.

The power of probiotics

Extensive research has shown that beneficial bacteria, aka probiotics, can play a significant role in numerous areas of human health. Because these good microorganisms are concentrated in the digestive system, and especially in the intestinal tract, their interactions with food and their impact on all things related to digestion are of most interest.

For example, one of the strengths associated with probiotics is an ability to help balance the healthy bacteria in your digestive system. An imbalance can occur for many reasons, including use of antibiotics, illness, and eating a poor diet, such as one that includes processed meats, sugary beverages, and refined carbohydrates. We could easily be talking about a hot dog or sausage on a white flour bun accompanied by greasy French fries and washed down with a cola. This combination could cause some internal fireworks!

Probiotics can defuse that fire. For example, people who take probiotics have experienced a reduced risk of experiencing diarrhea. Several factors can be involved in diarrhea, including the use of antibiotics and traveling to a different country, but it also can develop if you consume foods that have been left out on a serving table too long or not stored properly. Cases of food poisoning are not uncommon during the summer months because higher temperatures foster more rapid growth of harmful bacteria.

Probiotics are insurance

Taking probiotics is an insurance policy. Even if you try to eat a balanced diet and avoid food additives and other harmful ingredients, it’s a challenge. Holidays and special occasions are prime opportunities to step away from your usual diet. Although the end result may be stomach pain, diarrhea, or other intestinal disturbances, use of probiotics can step in and help restore balance.

In fact, daily use of a wide spectrum probiotic, which is one that contains many different species of beneficial bacteria, is a prudent way to protect your digestive and immune systems every day.

Health benefits of probiotics

If you take probiotics on a regular basis, you can set yourself free from stressing over the detrimental effects of poor dietary choices. That does not mean you can make bad food choices on a continuous basis and expect probiotics to save you! However, if you provide your body with beneficial bacteria daily, you can help create and maintain a healthy intestinal (gut) environment where beneficial bacteria secure the upper hand over disease-causing, system-disrupting microorganisms.

For example:

Heart health. Heart disease is still the number one killer of men in the United States and many other countries, and probiotics can help change that statistic. Studies show probiotics can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure and also raise good cholesterol (HDL). It’s recommended you take at least 10 billion CFUs daily for 8 weeks to experience results.

Digestive disorders. If you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, or irritable bowel syndrome, then probiotics can be helpful. One study even found that a specific probiotic called E. coli Nissle was as effective as drugs in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis cases. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can be reduced when using probiotics.

Immune system function. Probiotics can enhance the function of the immune system. One study, for example, showed that probiotics limited damage to the epithelium by certain pathogens and also promoted the restoration of the tissue. In a 2018 Swiss report, the authors noted that probiotics can increase the activity or natural killer cells and other natural antibodies, modulate the secretion of cytokines (molecules that regulate immunity and inflammation), enhance the epithelial barrier in the gut, and help keep out damaging bacteria.

Weight problems. How can microorganisms help with weight loss? Study results suggest probiotics may prevent the absorption of dietary fat in the intestinal tract and help you feel fuller for longer, store less body fat, and burn more calories.

In one study in women, use of Lactobacillus rhamnosus for three months resulted in a 50 percent greater weight loss than among women who did not take the supplement. Another showed that those who took L. gasseri for 12 weeks had an 8.5 percent reduction in belly fat. Given the challenge associated with losing weight, probiotics could offer this benefit along with the other health advantages.

Mental health. Studies in both animals and humans show that probiotic supplements can improve some mental health issues. In a review of 15 human studies, for example, supplementation with various Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains resulted in an improvement in anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and memory.

In a group of chemical workers, those who ate 100 grams of probiotic yogurt daily experienced improvement in anxiety, depression, stress, and general health when compared with those who took a placebo. In a study of 40 individuals with depression, taking probiotics daily for 8 weeks reduced levels of depression and levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) and insulin when compared with individuals who did not take the probiotic.

Bottom line

Are you ready to set yourself free from worry about the damaging effects of some of your dietary choices? Would you like to improve your heart health, boost your immune function, enhance the ability to lose weight, and improve symptoms of digestive problems and depression and anxiety?

Then a daily dose of probiotics may help. A wide spectrum of strains should be present in the supplement you choose (i.e., at least 8 to 10). Declare your independence from worry about digestive health or slipping up on your diet. Always strive to eat organic, all-natural foods and exercise regularly, and complement your efforts with daily probiotic supplementation.

References

Agerholm-Larsen L et al. The effect of a probiotic milk product on plasma cholesterol: a meta-analysis of short-term intervention studies. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000 Nov; 54(11): 856-60

Aronsson L et al. Decreased fat storage by Lactobacillus paracasei is associated with increased levels of angiopoietin-like 4 protein (ANGPTL4). PLoS One 2010 Sep 30; 5(9)

Behm B. Avoid food poisoning during summer picnics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2017 Jul 10

Kadooka Y et al. Effect of Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 in fermented milk on abdominal adiposity in adults in randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition 2013 Nov 14; 110(9): 1696-703

Kiessling G et al. Long-term consumption of fermented dairy products over 6 months increases HDL cholesterol. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2002 Sep; 56(9): 843-49

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

Moayyedi P et al. The efficacy of probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Gut 2010 Mar; 59(3): 325-32

Mohammadi AA et al. The effects of probiotics on mental health and hypothalamic-ituitary-adrenal axis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in petrochemical workers. Nutritional Neuroscience 2016 Nov; 19(9): 387-95

Ogawa A et al. Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 suppresses fatty acid release through enlargement of fat emulsion size in vitro and promotes fecal fat excretion in healthy Japanese subjects. Lipids in Health and Disease 2015 Mar 20; 14:20

Resta-Lenert S, Barrett KE. Live probiotics protect intestinal epithelial cells from the effects of infection with enteroinvasive Escherichia coli (EIEC). Gut 2003 Jul; 52(7): 988-97

Sanchez M et al. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. British Journal of Nutrition 2014 Apr 28; 111(8): 1507-19

Wang H et al. Effect of probiotics on central nervous system functions in animals and humans: a systematic review. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility 2016 Oct 30; 22(4): 589-605

 

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Top 9 Ingredients for Men’s Health

There’s a plethora of options out there… What should you actually take?

The supplement market has become a challenging environment to navigate. Not only are there scores of different ingredients from which to choose; you also have different formulations, manufacturers, sources, and claims to sift through before you make up your mind which product to buy. We’re here to help make your choices a bit easier, especially in the first category by talking about the top 9 ingredients for men’s health.

The internet and other media sources often tout the supplements that are important for men’s health, and that list can be rather lengthy. However, there are certain ingredients that are especially worthy of mention because they are most often deficient in men’s lives or essential for their overall health and well-being. So if you are looking for the ingredients you should focus on the most, these are our choices. We hope you agree and will take the time to evaluate your possible need to take one or more of these substances to support and promote your health today.

Arginine

Arginine (aka, L-arginine) is an amino acid that your body produces naturally. However it is also present in foods that contain protein, such as soybeans, turkey, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds. In fact, arginine is essential for the body to make proteins.

Much of the research on arginine has involved its ability to improve compromised blood flow, which is characteristic of heart disease, erectile dysfunction, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, male infertility, and clogged arteries. Because these are common problems among men, getting sufficient arginine is important.

Some men take arginine supplements to improve their athletic performance, but it’s also used to enhance mental function and improve immune system activity. The reason arginine is able to help with all of these conditions is that once it enters the body, it is converted into nitric oxide, a chemical that causes blood vessels to open wider for improved blood flow. The amino acid also has an ability to stimulate the release of insulin and growth hormone.

Talk to a healthcare provider before taking arginine supplements. A typical dose of arginine supplement is no less than 5 grams daily for erectile dysfunction, while men with congestive heart failure may take 6 to 20 mg daily in three doses. Dosing to enhance athletic performance should be determined by a health professional.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10, aka CoQ10 and ubiquinone, is a potent antioxidant that is found in nearly every cell in the body. It is most abundant in the heart, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. As a coenzyme, it helps enzymes do their job. The body’s cells use CoQ10 to produce the energy cells need to grow and thrive. More specifically, CoQ10 is key in the making of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is essential for energy transfer within cells.

CoQ10 is also used as an antioxidant, especially when it comes to heart health. In fact, CoQ10 is used to treat heart conditions, including heart failure, and may improve some symptoms and reduce the risk of future attacks when it is used along with traditional medications.

Levels of CoQ10 decrease with age. Research also shows that people with heart disease, brain disorders, diabetes, and cancer have low levels of this antioxidant. Do low CoQ10 levels cause or contribute to these diseases or is it the other way around? The jury is still out on this question.

CoQ10 supplements are available as ubiquinone and ubiquinol, and the latter is the more absorbable form. The standard dose ranges from 90 mg to 200 mg daily. Because this supplement is fat soluble, you should take it with a food that contains healthy fat, such as avocado, nuts, or coconut oil. Your body will absorb it up to three times faster than if you take it without food.

Fiber

Are you getting the 25 to 35 grams of fiber you should have every day for optimal health? Far too many adults don’t get the amount of fiber they need for optimal health.

What’s so great about fiber? First of all, it’s a carbohydrate that your body can’t digest, so it passes through the body and in the process performs some essential functions, such as helping in the elimination of cholesterol, moving along stool in the intestinal tract, regulating sugar, and keeping blood sugar and hunger in check.

Fiber comes in two forms, and fiber-containing foods typically have both types in varying percentages. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps lower cholesterol. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water but it does promote regularity and help prevent constipation.

Fiber has been credited with assisting in reducing the risk of heart disease, constipation, diverticular disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. To increase fiber intake, you should include more foods such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and beans, and nuts. The best way to get fiber is to eat high-fiber foods.

However, fiber supplements are available in many forms. Natural fiber powders, including psyllium and methylcellulose, are typically safe to take daily. However, you should discuss fiber supplement use with your healthcare provider before you start because they can interact with some medications.

Folic acid

Folic acid (aka folate, which is the form found in foods) is a B vitamin (B9) that is essential for producing white and red blood cells in the bone marrow, converting carbos into energy, and making DNA and RNA. It also is involved in the production of sperm and may reduce the risk of depression.

The foods that are the best source of folate include leafy greens (e.g., spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, collard greens, kale) as well as asparagus, oranges, pinto beans, lentils, pumpkin seeds, and sesame. If you choose a supplement (folic acid), look for methylfolate on the label. The recommended daily intake is 400 micrograms. 

Magnesium

This mineral is one of the busiest in the body, as it is involved in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate a wide range of reactions in the body. Magnesium has a role in protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, regulation of blood pressure, energy production, and blood sugar control, among others. It also plays a role in normal heart rhythm and the conduction of nerve impulses and muscle contractions.

Magnesium insufficiency is common, and groups most often affected are those with gastrointestinal problems, type 2 diabetes, alcohol dependence, or who are 50 or older. It’s not difficult to get the amounts necessary for optimal health if you select green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains on a daily basis.

If, however, you choose to take a magnesium supplement, the forms that are best absorbed are aspartate, chloride, citrate, and lactate rather than oxide or sulfate.

Omega-3 fatty acids

When you see the words “omega-3 fatty acids,” you may immediately think of fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardines. These and similar fish are the richest sources of this essential fatty acid. Omega-3s are credited with many health benefits, and a reduction in the risk of prostate cancer is one of them.

In a recent case-control study, investigators discovered why omega-3 fatty acids can lower the risk of prostate cancer: the fatty acids interfere with the activity of pro-cancer molecules called soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (slCAM-1).

What other benefits have been bestowed upon omega-3s? How about reduction of inflammation, lowering of triglycerides and cholesterol, prevention of excessive blood clotting, helping prevent obesity, reduction in symptoms of depression, psychosis, and bipolar disorder, and enhancement of memory.

The American Heart Association recommends eating 7 ounces of fatty fish per week to get an adequate amount of the two main omega-3s, EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, respectively). However, if fish is not your game, then you can take fish oil supplements. An omega-3 supplement that provides approximately 1,080 mg EPA and 720 mg DHA daily in no more than three doses is suggested.

Probiotics

Beneficial bacteria, aka probiotics, play an essential role in supporting, promoting, and maintaining healthy immune function. In fact, the good and harmful bacteria in your gut form a precarious balance that makes up about 80 percent of your immune system. Therefore, you want this relationship to be harmonious as much as possible.

If the bacterial environment in your gut is out of balance, it can result in a variety of health issues, ranging from headaches and nutritional deficiencies to gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune disorders, depression, brain fog, and more. The secret is to keep the level of good bacteria up so it can counteract any ill effects of the harmful microorganisms.

To accomplish that, you can include foods rich in probiotics in your diet, such as fermented tofu (tempeh), kimchee, some yogurts (look for “active cultures” on the label), sauerkraut, kefir, or foods fortified with probiotics. However, it can be challenging to get the beneficial bacteria you need from foods alone, which is why a high-quality probiotic supplement can be a great option.

Look for products that contain a variety of bacteria species and strains that have been shown to remain viable on the shelf and in your body. Reputable brands will have available scientific evidence to back up their claims. A suggested dose is 1 to 10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) daily, but higher doses are generally recommended if you are dealing with a health issue such as diarrhea or gastrointestinal problems.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world, with about 40 percent of men having levels that are below what is considered to be healthy (28 nanograms per milliliter). In fact, since many experts consider this figure to be too low, the percentage is even higher.

Best known as the sunshine vitamin because the body produces vitamin D from sunlight exposure to the skin, a deficiency of this nutrient has been associated with high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, depression, bone loss, back pain, hair loss, poor wound healing, frequent infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.

So where should men get their vitamin D? If you don’t get at least 15 to 20 minutes of sunlight on your skin every day, there’s a good chance you are deficient in vitamin D. Only a few foods are considered good to excellent sources, including egg yolks, beef liver, fortified cereals and milk, cheese, and mushrooms.

That leaves vitamin D supplements. The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine set recommendations on vitamin D intake at 600 International Units for individuals up to age 70 years and 800 IU for those aged 71 and older. These figures are considered low by some experts, however, such as the Vitamin D Council, which recommends 5,000 IU daily. You should have your vitamin D levels checked using a simple blood test to determine your specific needs before taking this supplement.

Zinc

If you want testosterone, then you need zinc. However, many adults don’t get enough of this trace element. Zinc is necessary for the production of testosterone, which in turn can affect erectile dysfunction. Other noteworthy things about zinc are its ability to help metabolize nutrients, support immune system function (which is why some people take zinc for a cold), and promote the production of protein and DNA.

Although a zinc deficiency is rare in the United States, men can notice significant problems if their levels are below the recommended threshold, which is 0.66 to 1.10 micrograms per milliliter (mcg/mL). Signs and symptoms can include low testosterone levels, decreased sense of taste and smell, diarrhea, wounds that won’t heal, lack of alertness, and diarrhea. Taking zinc supplements also has been found to boost testosterone in men with moderately low levels.

Zinc is abundant in oysters, and more moderate amounts can be found in beef, pumpkin seeds, lentils, cashews, mushrooms, spinach, whole grains, and avocados. The recommended daily intake for men is 11 mg. Zinc supplements are available alone and in multivitamins. The most accessible form of zinc for the body is zinc orotate; other forms include zinc acetate, gluconate, and sulfate.

Bottom line

No matter how much we try to eat right and take care of our body, life often gets in the way. Stress from jobs and relationships, financial worries, social demands, and environmental toxins can all take a toll on us. It’s easy to lose focus on some of the nutritional factors that can help us maintain and optimize our health. Take time to make your well-being a priority and examine your nutritional needs today.

References

Garrido-Maraver J et al. Coenzyme Q10 therapy. Molecular Syndromology 2014 Jul; 5(3-4): 187-97

Glover EI et al. A randomized trial of coenzyme Q10 in mitochondrial disorders. Muscle & Nerve 2010 Nov; 42(5): 739-48

Lafuente R et al. Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility: a meta-analysis. Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics 2013 Sep; 30(9): 1147-56

Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and healthy eating.

Mortensen SA et al. The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure: results from Q-SYMBIO: a randomized double-blind trial. JACC Heart Failure 2014 Dec; 2(6): 641-49

The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D. 2010 Nov 30

National Institutes of Health. Magnesium

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

Stibich M PhD. Health problems linked to vitamin D deficiency. VeryWellHealth 2019 Mar 11

Touvier M et al. Modulation of the association between plasma intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and cancer risk by n-3 PUFA intake: a nested case-control study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2012, doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.111.027805

WebMD. Coenzyme Q10: CoQ10

WebMD. L-arginine

Wadsworth TL et al. Evaluation of coenzyme Q as an antioxidant strategy for Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimers Disease 2008 Jun; 14(2): 225-34

 

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Age creeping up on you? Mid-Life Crisis? Let’s Beat It!

There’s no time like the present to take action!

Mid-Life Crisis? You’ve Got it Beat!

Mid-life crisis got you feeling apprehensive or a bit down? Struggling with uncertainty about the direction your health is going? Let’s take stock!

It’s mid-year and chances are any New Year’s resolutions you may have made were shelved long ago. That’s okay, it happens to the best of us. But you’re probably still looking for the right combination of healthy choices and moves that will help you maintain a high quality of life over the next few decades—right?

There’s no time like the present to make those moves.

What improvements can you make to your lifestyle right now to restore, maintain, and improve your vitality, health, and mood?  Sound like a tall order? It could be, but it also can be the greatest opportunity and gift you give to yourself and your loved ones.

Let’s face it: getting older can really be a bummer, but it doesn’t have to be. Change your perspective and you change the outcome. If you are willing to make a few healthy alterations in your daily life, you could get to spend more quality time with your partner or spouse, your children and grandchildren, and your friends, and pursue goals you have set in your life—or reach for new dreams you have yet to realize.

Let’s start with diet

When it comes to diet and food options, you can choose from scores of diets and dietary plans, books, and recipes. However, the ones that make the most sense scientifically may not be sexy (although they can improve your performance in the bedroom), but they work. They include the Mediterranean diet and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), both of which have been shown to help protect against the number one killer of men and women—heart disease—as well as support brain health and also throw in benefits for bone and digestive health as well.

The foundation of a healthy diet is simple: focus on whole, natural foods (i.e., free of artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, sugars, hormones, pesticides, and steroids), which provide a balance of macronutrients (protein, healthy fats, carbs), and are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and enzymes. This gives you a wealth of foods from which to choose—just keep them whole and natural.

  • Feast on fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, whole grains, beans, legumes, and teas.
  • Moderate your intake of fish, poultry, meat, and dairy.
  • Choose healthy fats such as olive oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil.
  • Avoid added sugars, alcohol, and too much salt—switch to herbs and spices instead.
  • Drink plenty of pure water.

Lose extra pounds

Have you added a few extra pounds in recent years?  Time to let them go and welcome in added vitality, less stress on your joints, and a significantly reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. If you lose 5 to 10 percent of your current weight, you can appreciate these impressive health benefits.

For example, the Diabetes Prevention Program found that individuals who lost 7 percent of their body weight and exercised about one-half hour daily reduced their risk of diabetes by nearly 60 percent. Did you know that every step you take places up to six times your weight in pressure on your feet and knees. So if you weigh 200 pounds, that’s up to 1,200 pounds of pressure on your joints. Ouch!

So what’s the secret to weight loss? No secret…just patience, dedication, and motivation. Some simple weight loss tips:

  • Skip the fad diets and choose an eating program that you can live with. After all, you don’t want to be miserable while losing weight, right? The Mediterranean diet, DASH, and various plant-based diets provide lots of variety and nutrition and can be easy to follow.
  • Chew! Too many people forget to thoroughly chew their food. This will force you to eat more slowly, feel satisfied in a healthy way, and allow you to better digest your food.
  • Increase your physical activity, and be sure to include things that you enjoy. Consider team sports, exercising with a friend, taking up a new activity, joining a gym, or forming an exercise group at work or in your neighborhood.
  • Make food substitutions. Crunchy veggies are better than chips for dipping. Water with lemon beats soda. Cauliflower rice is a better choice than regular rice. Frozen bananas or berries are much lower in calories than ice cream. There are scores of substitutions you can make to reduce calories.
  • Inadequate sleep contributes to weight gain. Be sure to get your 7 to 9 hours of Zzzzs every night.

Quit smoking

If you don’t smoke, you’re ahead of the game! But if you do, it’s time to escape the clutches of this lethal habit. Don’t think just because you’ve been smoking for decades, you can’t experience some significant benefits once you snuff that final cigarette. Within one week of stopping, blood circulation improves. That’s good news on the bedroom front, since a strong erection depends on a good blood supply. Current smokers are nearly three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction than non smokers and former smokers.

After 30 days, your lungs will function more efficiently. You ay cough up mucus, but that means you are clearing out your lungs and reducing the risk of infection. By your one year anniversary of quitting, your risk of heart disease will be half of someone who still smokes. It takes about ten times longer to reduce your risk of lung disease by half that of a smoker. If you are keen on maintaining your vision, then quit smoking, because this habit increases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

To help you kick the habit, devise a plan:

  • Identify a quit date. Choose a time when the stress level in your life is not running high, or you could set yourself up for failure.
  • Establish support. Having a partner, spouse, or friend who can support and encourage you is important. You also could attend a smoking cessation group, listen to stop smoking talks online, or use nicotine patches or similar products.
  • Know your motivations. It helps to write down why you want to quit. Keep that list handy so you can refer to it when you feel tempted to smoke.
  • Find healthy habits. Smoking is a habit as well as an addiction, so you should replace the unhealthy habit with a healthy one. For some it’s going to the gym, joining a sports team, taking up biking or jogging, or adopting a new hobby.

Keep moving

Want to live longer? Adopt the “E” word. Men older than 50 who participated in regular moderate exercise can live about a year longer than their peers who are sedentary, according to the Framingham Heart Study. Kick up the activity to high and you can extend it to about four years. Physical activity improves heart and blood vessel health, enhances brain and cognitive function, helps control blood sugar levels, aids weight loss, improves mood, betters bone strength, and helps sleep.

The exercise formula is BASS: balance, aerobic, strength, stretch. Include activities that promote all of these elements and you will enhance your total health.

  • Balance, incorporate yoga, tai chi, qi gong, or simply practice heel-toe walking.
  • Aerobic activities include walking and jogging, swimming, spinning, jumping rope, and rowing.
  • Strength exercises include lifting weights, using your own body weight, and boxing.
  • Stretching is an activity you should do daily, both before and after exercise, as well as various times during the day. Stretching allows you to stay limber, retain range of motion, and avoid injury.

Keep your eyes on cholesterol

About 14 percent of Americans have cholesterol levels greater than 240 mg/dL, and many more have levels above 200 mg/dL, which is the cutoff point considered to be desirable, according to the National Cholesterol Education Program. If you lower your total cholesterol by 10 percent, you also reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 15 percent. Many men can reduce cholesterol simply by instituting dietary changes, such as avoiding both saturated and trans fats, eating whole grains, and including more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets are healthy plans, as are plant-based models.

Need a few more tips on how to lower cholesterol?

  • Drop excess pounds
  • Increase physical activity
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Consider taking medication. This should be a last resort if lifestyle changes don’t reduce your cholesterol levels to a healthy level

Maintain a healthy blood pressure

If you’d like to stick around for many years to come, keep a watchful eye on your blood pressure. It pays to have a home monitoring device, which are available in drug stores and other retail outlets everywhere. Your healthcare provider will tell you which systolic and diastolic numbers are best for you. Know, however, that experts are not in agreement as to the ideal blood pressure. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend a goal of 130/80 mmHg, which replaced a former recommendation of 140/90 mmHg. However, some other health professionals call for 120/80 mmHg or lower as the goal.

Why focus on blood pressure? When you reduce high blood pressure, you also decrease your risk of stroke by 35 to 40 percent, the incidence of heart failure by more than 50 percent, and the chances of heart attack by 20 to 25 percent.

Ideally you can reduce your blood pressure by making some lifestyle modifications and thus avoid medications altogether. How?

  • Reduce you intake of salt. Check labels on food products, especially processed foods, which can be very high in sodium (salt). Switch to using herbs and spices instead of salt
  • Eat more foods high in potassium. This mineral helps lower blood pressure. Popular choices are avocadoes, bananas, black beans, coconut water, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelon, and white beans.
  • Practice stress management techniques. That could mean exercise, tai chi, listening to music, dance, meditation, deep breathing, visualization, progressive relaxation, or other methods
  • Drug treatment should be your last resort if lifestyle efforts are not reducing your blood pressure adequately. Discuss the possibilities with your healthcare provider.

Reduce stress

The “fight or flight” response of our ancestors kicked in when they had to escape man-eating animals and other life-threatening situations. They experienced a rush of hormones and chemicals throughout their body, faster heart rate and breathing, a rise in blood pressure, and a burst of energy in the form of glucose in their blood stream. Today we experience the same physical responses to stress, but our stress is more likely to involve rush hour traffic, balancing monthly bills, coping with job crises, and struggling with healthcare costs.

The vast majority of our stress is not life-threatening, yet the body doesn’t discriminate. So when stress is chronic or unresolved, the body keeps the high blood pressure, the high sugar levels, the elevated heart rate, and even greater mental stress. All of these factors contribute to poor overall health as well as a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, depression, headaches, obesity, and more.

How do you manage stress? It’s important to incorporate easy, enjoyable ways to cope with stress in your daily life. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Meditation of visualization
  • Yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and similar practices
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Enjoyable exercise, such as basketball or touch football with friends, dancing, jogging, swimming, hiking, canoeing, tennis, handball
  • Massage
  • Laughter (funny videos, movies, laughter yoga)
  • Sleep/naps (not as an escape, but if you are overtired, a nap can reduce stress levels)
  • Change your perspective. Often it is how we look at things or situations that determines our stress level and thus our response to it. Ask yourself: how important is this situation? Is it truly worthy getting upset over? What can I learn from this situation? Can I get help with this situation?

Imbibe moderately or not at all

Alcohol can be part of socializing, kicking back, and celebrating with family and friends, and it also has some positive health benefits. At the same time, however, alcohol consumption can have a significant negative impact on the body.

Moderation is the key. For men, a moderate amount of alcohol is two drinks daily, which translates into two 12-ounce glasses of beer, two 5-ounce glasses of wine, or two 1.5 ounce shots of liquor.

Consuming more than two drinks daily can increase the risk of hypertension, stroke, arrhythmia, and sudden death. Having up to one drink daily can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, but heavy drinking increases the risk to 22 percent when compared with nondrinkers. Drinking alcohol at any level increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke by two to four times.

Want to reduce or eliminate your alcohol consumption? Here are a few things to watch for:

  • Looks can be deceiving. A wine goblet can make 5 ounces look like next to nothing and so you can be tempted to fill the glass. The amount of liquor in a mixed drink glass may be more than you bargained for. Pay attention to how much alcohol you are actually consuming.
  • Don’t drink alone. People tend to drink more when they are alone. However, don’t drink with individuals who may keep encouraging you to keep up with them!
  • Take a break. If your habit is to drink every day or nearly every day, take a day or two off every week.
  • Get help. If you find it difficult to reduce or quit drinking, talk to a professional about your drinking habits.

Get enough Zzzzzs

Are you getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night? That’s the amount recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. If you lack sufficient sleep, your mind and body will rebel in various ways. For example:

  • Weight gain. One reason for this response to sleep deprivation is that it interferes with the hormones that regulate appetite. Another reason may be that you may tend to eat more sugary or high-fat foods when you’re tired so you’ll stay awake.
  • Diabetes risk. Studies show that people who sleep less than five hours a night have a threefold greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who sleep six hours or longer.
  • Heart disease risk. Short-term sleep deprivation is associated with risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides, while long-term lack of sleep may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Mental impact. Feeling foggy? You probably know that sleep deprivation can make it difficult to concentrate or remember things, but did you know it also makes you more likely to experience depression and anxiety? A recent review shows that sleep deprivation/insomnia is closely related to depression.

If you’d like to get more shut eye, check out these secrets to better sleep.

Don’t skip health screenings

When was the last time you saw a healthcare professional for a health screening or physical? According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 55 percent of men questioned had not visited their doctor for a physical exam in the previous year. Yet 40 percent of them had high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or some other chronic condition.

Nearly 30 percent of men said they “wait as long as possible” before they would go to a doctor if they were experiencing pain or feeling sick. Many men delay or completely avoid a number of health screenings that are strongly recommended on an as-needed basis, yearly, or less often. To see a list of those screenings and when they are recommended, click here and see page 30.

Make a mental note of how many of the screenings you have done and which ones you plan to do. How did you do? If you have any questions about these tests, discuss them with your healthcare provider.

Bottom line

The mid-life crisis is real only if you allow it to be. Congratulate yourself for making it this far. Then take control of the rest of your life and resolve to live it to the fullest and to be the healthiest and most energetic you can be. You owe it to yourself, your family, friends, and to the difference you can make in the world.

Sources

American College of Cardiology. New ACC/AHA high blood pressure guidelines lower definition of hypertension. 2017 Nov 13

Harvard Medical School. A guide to men’s health fifty and forward.

Riemann D et al. Sleep, insomnia, and depression. Neuropsychopharmacology 2019 May 9

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Saw Palmetto for Enlarged Prostate: What’s the Latest?

Maybe your doctor just diagnosed you
with benign prostatic hyperplasia (aka BPH, an enlarged prostate). Perhaps
you’ve had BPH for a while, or you’re wondering whether it’s in your future.
After all, it affects 70 percent of men in the US ages 60 to 69 and 80 percent
of those 70 years or older. What are your treatment options? If you want a
natural approach, you might consider saw palmetto for enlarged prostate.

Why saw palmetto for enlarged prostate?

If you search for information on
natural ways to treat an enlarged prostate, saw palmetto often comes up. A
number of research studies have shown that the herb can be especially helpful
in managing symptoms associated with BPH. Those symptoms, often referred to as
LUTS (lower urinary tract symptoms), include urinary urgency, urinary
frequency, dribbling, painful urination, frequent nighttime urination, and the
annoying start-and-stop urination.

Take this new study on LUTS and BPH,
for example, which was published in March 2019 in Urology. In this multicenter,
double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 354 men were given either 320 mg saw
palmetto (159 men) or a placebo (169) daily for 24 weeks. The investigators
evaluated changes in the International Prostate Symptom Score and peak urinary
flow as well as other LUTS factors, total prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
levels, quality of life score, and sexual function.

How did the men in the saw palmetto
group do? Compared with those who received placebo, they experienced

  • Significant improvement in peak urinary flow, IPSS scores,
    LUTS symptoms, quality of life, and sexual function scores.
  • One or more adverse events occurred in 2 men in the placebo
    group and 3 in the saw palmetto group
  • Overall, the authors stated that the herbal supplement was
    “effective, safe, well-tolerated, and clinically and statistically superior to
    placebo.”

What should I know about saw palmetto for enlarged prostate?

The saw palmetto berries contain
more than 100 compounds, which include fatty acids, long-chain alcohol, and
phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and others.
Beta-sitosterol is the phytosterol most often mentioned when talking about an
enlarged prostate, because it can attach itself to the prostate and has anti-inflammatory
properties. As beta-sitosterol reduces swelling and inflammation, men can
experience relief from the symptoms associated with LUTS.

More specifically, beta-sitosterol
inhibits the activity of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme is
responsible for converting testosterone into 5-alpha dihydrotestosterone (DHT),
a hormone that promotes the growth of the prostate. That makes beta-sitosterol
a substance that inhibits the activity of DHT and thus helpful in the
management of an enlarged prostate.

If you choose to take a saw palmetto
supplement, be sure you are getting a pure product that is providing all the
ingredients stated on the label, especially when it comes to beta-sitosterol.
In a 2018 study, the authors attempted to verity the actual amount of
phytosterols in supplements that contained saw palmetto. They used a technique
called gas-chromatography, which is commonly used for this purpose.

They discovered a wide variation in
the amount of phytosterols in the supplements they studied, which included both
those that had saw palmetto as the sole ingredient as well as combination
products. Therefore, it’s best to choose a product from a highly reliable
source when choosing supplements that contain saw palmetto if you want to reap the
benefits of this herb.

As an added bonus, beta-sitosterol
also has been associated with lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) without having an
impact on good cholesterol (HDL). The phytosterol also may help enhance immune
system function, normalize blood sugar (glucose) levels, and help in the fight
against prostate cancer.

The bottom line

There seems to be a place for use of
saw palmetto for enlarged prostate and the LUTS that accompany it. Look for
high-quality supplements with certified amounts of beta-sitosterol.

Sources

Giammarioli S et al. Phytosterols in
supplements containing Serenoa repens: an example of variability of active
principles in commercial plant based products. Natural Product Research 2018 Oct 8:1-5

Kurzweil R, Grossman T. 6 proven
health benefits of beta-sitosterol. Transcend

Parsons JK. Benign prostatic
hyperplasia and male lower urinary tract symptoms: epidemiology and risk
factors. Current Bladder
Dysfunction Reports
2010 Sep 7

Saper RB. Clinical use of saw
palmetto. Up To Date 2019 Apr

WebMD. Beta-sitosterol.

Ye Z et al. Efficacy and safety of
Serenoa repens extract among patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia in
China: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Urology 2019 Mar 14

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