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

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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

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by Mens Health Editor