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

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

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

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

Calcium

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

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

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

Coenzyme Q10

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

Fiber

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

Fish oil

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

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

Folic acid

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

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

Magnesium

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

Probiotics

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

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

Vitamin B12

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

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

Vitamin D3 

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

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

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

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

Bottom line

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. National Cancer Institute

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

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

 

Top 9 Ingredients for Men’s Health

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.

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