November is the month of boys’ and men’s health. The Movember movement is more than about men just sporting moustaches. It is a movement specifically to talk about the issue of men’s health. Similarly, international men’s day celebrate annually on the 19th of November.
One of the six objectives of this day is to raise awareness about improving men’s health.
Through this blog post, we hope to do our part in raising awareness about men’s health
Why is it important to talk about men’s health?
The ratio of males to females in a society is termed the “gender ratio” (1). When born, the global natural gender-ratio is male-biased. However, since women seem to outlive men, the ratio tends to decrease with age (1).
Part of the reason is biology. The difference in the sex chromosomes and hormones seems to make women age more slowly. It also makes them more robust when they get sick at any age.
However, the large excess of female life expectancy in adulthood is a demographic phenomenon that only emerged after the late 1800s (2). It is important therefore, to talk about the preventable factors affecting modern men’s health and what we can do about it.
What are the preventable factors affecting men’s health?
Changes in diet and other behavioral or lifestyle factors may affect men more than women (2). After the 1900s, there was an association with heart disease and an increased male mortality (2). Smoking-attributable deaths account for about 30% of excess male mortality at ages 50-70. High blood pressure or unfavorable cholesterol levels, may be contributing factors (3).
Despite advances in technology that allow early detection, prostate cancer is another preventable cause of male mortality. It is projected to be the most common cancer among males in 2035 (4).
Although the incidence of depression is higher in women, cultural norms discourage men from seeking help for depression and other mental illnesses (3). Obesity and diabetes associated with more sedentary lifestyles, are other preventable factors affecting men’s health.
How can we deal with these preventable diseases?
Major factors leading to the above mentioned diseases include stress, a lack of exercise and an unhealthy/unbalanced diet. Thus by including simple changes to our lifestyles, we can improve our health.
Here, we will provide examples of some food supplements that can support men’s health. We will give you our top picks from the main supplement categories– vitamins, minerals, amino acids and natural products.
Read our blog post for general information on food supplements.
Men’s Health Supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a class of polyunsaturated fatty acids (6). Of the many omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the most common supplementation forms.
ALA can only be obtained from the diet. Although our livers can convert ALA into EPA and then to DHA, the conversion rate is less than 15% (6). Consuming ALA, EPA and DHA directly from foods and/or dietary supplements is therefore, the only way to increase their levels in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids and men’s health
Omega-3 fatty acids are important components of our body’s cell membranes. DHA, in particular, is especially high in sperm (6).
Omega-3 fatty acids also have wide-ranging functions in the body’s cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune, and endocrine systems. For example, higher serum concentrations of EPA and DHA have been associated with less inflammatory activity (6).
The EFSA recommends a daily intake of 250 mg of EPA and DHA to maintain normal cardiac function (7). The habitual use of fish oil containing omega-3s may also be associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and mortality (8).
Read about other heart healthy supplements in our post.
Better cardiac function is geared toward improving blood flow. Blood flow to the penis is also improved, thus making omega-3 supplementation recommended for erectile dysfunction (9).
Finally, the omega-3s provide energy to energy-intensive tissues such as skeletal and heart muscles. These muscles use fatty acids as their fuel.
For all these reasons, omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most recommended all-in-one men’s supplement.
Vitamins are organic molecules required for the maintenance and proper functioning of our bodies. Some, like vitamin D3, require adequate sunlight for its production (10). Spending a lot of time behind closed doors or fewer hours of sunshine during the winter, can lead to a vitamin D deficiency.
The deficiency, in turn, is known to cause depression, poor bone health, a weaker immune system, hypertension and peripheral vascular disease.
Why do men need to take vitamin D supplements?
Vitamin D supplementation is effective in improving symptoms of depression (9). Apart from affecting your mental health, depression can also lower your sex drive. Vitamin D supplementation can, therefore, help in hitting two birds with one stone.
In terms of supplements that help maintain skeletal and muscular strength, vitamin D3 supplementation is the answer; it is correlated with improved muscle strength in trained athletes (11). Vitamin D is also known to contribute to the normal absorption and utilization of calcium and phosphorus (7). A healthy amount of these nutrients, in turn, maintains normal bones and teeth. Strong muscles and bones improve posture especially in men over the age of 60 (7).
As we mentioned earlier, prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers. Vitamin D3 supplementation has shown promise in its prevention and therapy (12).
Vitamin D being fat-soluble, liposomal vitamin D-fortified preparations of chocolate, cheese and beverages have been successfully studied (13). Our liquid liposomal vitamin D3 formulation was found to be 13-times more bioavailable than a non-liposomal product.
Contact our Business Development Team today to find out about our liposomal vitamin D3 product.
How much vitamin D should I take?
15 micrograms per day of vitamin D (D2+D3) supplementation is all an adult male needs (14). A maximum of 100 micrograms per day is, however, judged to be unlikely to pose an adverse health risk.
Carnitine as a Men’s Health Supplement
Carnitine is an amino acid-derivative that plays a critical role in energy production (15). The total body content of carnitine in a man weighing 70 kilos is about 20 grams. Almost all of this is concentrated in the skeletal muscle.
Why should I take an acetyl-L-carnitine supplement?
Although our bodies produce enough carnitine, a carnitine deficiency can occur due to aging. Low levels of carnitine are also found in some forms of cancer, heart disease and male infertility (15). Supplementation may be beneficial in all these situations.
Of all the forms of carnitine available, acetyl-L-carnitine is better absorbed from the small intestine than L-carnitine (15). It is also the form that more efficiently gets into brain tissue.
Why liposomal carnitine?
The short half-life and low bioavailability of carnitine, supports its supplementation in the liposomal form. A study of liposomal carnitine showed a sustained release of L-carnitine over 12 hours. An improved metabolic profile of cardiac cells, as compared to a non-liposomal delivery system, was also observed (16).
How much carnitine should I take?
Depending on the intended use, the amount of carnitine supplemented varies. For example, 2-3 grams/day of carnitine may improve sperm quality (count and motility) when taken for a period of about 3 months (15).
In older adults with mild cognitive impairment, improved mental function and reduced deterioration was observed upon carnitine supplementation. A dosage of 1.5–3.0 grams/day of acetyl-L-carnitine for 3–12 months was used in these studies (15).
Although some athletes take carnitine supplements, there are no studies proving it to improve athletic performance.
Did you know that an estimated 17.3% of the world’s population is at risk of inadequate zinc intake? (17). This essential mineral contributes to normal cognitive function, fertility and reproduction, maintenance of normal bones, hair, nails and skin (7). Zinc also contributes to the maintenance of normal testosterone levels in the blood (7).
Surprisingly, vegetable-rich diets, may reduce its absorption. Therefore, the EFSA recommends an average daily requirement of 7.5-12.7 mg of zinc/day in adult men, for diets ranging from 300- 1 200 mg/day of plant-based diets (14).
Sufficient evidence is lacking though to determine whether differences exist among forms of zinc in absorption, bioavailability, or tolerability (18).
What are the symptoms of a zinc deficiency?
A loss of appetite and impaired immune function may be due to a zinc deficiency (18). Weight loss, delayed healing of wounds, taste abnormalities and mental lethargy can also occur. In severe cases, a zinc deficiency may lead to hair loss, diarrhea, impotence, and eye and skin lesions (18).
Since many of these symptoms are often associated with other health conditions, it is best to consult your primary physician to ascertain whether you have a zinc deficiency.
What are the side effects of high-dose zinc supplementation?
The EFSA has set a maximum daily intake of 25 mg of zinc for men over the age of 18 (14). Intakes higher than this can lead to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches (18). The long-term intake of high-dose zinc can lead to poor copper and iron absorption. It can also result in reduced immune function.
Is there really a need for gender-specific supplementation?
Yes! Men and women have different nutritional needs. Due to differences in hormones, reproductive organs, and fat and muscle mass, we each have our specific requirements. Even with nutrients that are required by both sexes, the daily recommended doses are almost always different for men and women.
Please note that supplements are not a replacement for a poor diet. Food supplements are only meant to augment a balanced diet. They should only be taken upon consultation with your primary care physician.
Market for men’s health supplements
In 2020, the global dietary supplements market was valued at USD 140.3 billion (19). From 2021 to 2028, it is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 8.6%.
Globally, the increasing consumer awareness regarding personal health and wellbeing is expected to be a key factor driving the market (19). In western Europe, products with energy/focus and mental wellbeing claims are set to claim the market (20).
The market for erectile dysfunction treatments is expected to reach USD 4.7 billion in revenue by 2026 (9). L-carnitine, CoQ10 and zinc are the ingredients with the most scientific evidence supporting its benefits in male fertility supplements (21).
A 2008 survey of men in France and the UK reported that “men are an ideal market for ingestible skin care products” (22). Three quarters (74%) of the men surveyed said the idea of taking a supplement for skin health or beauty was normal. Omega-3 fatty acids and zinc supplements are often found on the top of the list of supplements for men’s skin health.
The global prostate cancer therapeutics market is expected to reach USD 12.0 billion by 2025 (23). Rising awareness regarding prostate cancer including in China, Japan, & India, would be a major factor driving the growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
Contact our Business Development team today to find out how you can enter the men’s food supplements market with our liposomal products.
- Men have different supplementation needs from women due to differences in hormones, reproductive organs, and fat and muscle mass.
- The top men’s supplements include omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, carnitine and zinc.
- Omega-3s are the best all-in-one supplement supporting sexual function and quality, heart health, pulmonary, immune, and endocrine systems.
- Vitamin D supports mental well-being, maintains a healthy sex drive, improves posture and maintains skeletal and muscular strength. Vitamin D also prevents prostate cancer.
- PlantaCorp’s liposomal vitamin D3 is 13-times more bioavailable than a non-liposomal product.
- Liposomal carnitine is highly bioavailable. It can prevent cancer, heart disease and male infertility.
- Zinc contributes to normal cognitive function, fertility and reproduction, maintenance of normal bones, hair, nails and skin.
- Key market areas for men’s supplements include energy/focus and mental wellbeing, erectile dysfunction treatments, male fertility supplements, ingestible skin care products and prostate cancer therapeutics.
- Roser, Hannah Ritchie and Max. Gender Ratio. Our World In Data. [Online] 2019. [Cited: 11 9, 2021.] https://ourworldindata.org/gender-ratio.
- Twentieth century surge of excess adult male mortality. Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez, Caleb E. Finch, and Eileen M. Crimmins. 29, s.l. : PNAS, 2015 , Vol. 112 .
- Shmerling, Robert H. Harvard health blog. Harvard health publishing. [Online] [Cited: 11 9, 2021.] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-men-often-die-earlier-than-women-201602199137.
- Cancer incidence and mortality projections in the UK until 2035. Smittenaar CR, Petersen KA, Stewart K, Moitt N. 9, s.l. : Br J Cancer., 2016 , Vol. 115.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 10, 2021.] https://au.movember.com/.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. NIH: Office of dietary supplements. [Online] [Cited: 11 10, 2021.] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/.
- EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods (v.3.6). EFSA. [Online] [Cited: 11 10, 2021.] https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/claims/register/public/?event=register.home.
- Associations of habitual fish oil supplementation with cardiovascular outcomes and all cause mortality: large population based cohort study. ZH, Li. s.l. : BMJ, 2020.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 08, 2021.] https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19546875/supplements-for-better-sex/.
- Vitamin D fact sheet. NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements. [Online] [Cited: 11 10, 2021.] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.
- Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on Muscle Strength in Athletes: A Systematic Review. . Chiang CM, Ismaeel A, Griffis RB, Weems S. 2, s.l. : J Strength Cond Res. , 2017 , Vol. 31.
- Vitamin D in prostate cancer. Trump DL, Aragon-Ching JB. s.l. : Asian J Androl, 2018, Vol. 20.
- Vitamin D Incorporation in Foods: Formulation Strategies, Stability, and Bioaccessibility as Affected by the Food Matrix. Lavelli, Vera. 9, s.l. : Foods, 2021, Vol. 10.
- Dietary Reference Values for the EU. EFSA. [Online] [Cited: 11 12, 2021.] https://multimedia.efsa.europa.eu/drvs/index.htm.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 12, 2021.] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Carnitine-HealthProfessional/#en2.
- Polymeric Nanoparticle Versus Liposome Formulations: Comparative Physicochemical and Metabolomic Studies as L-Carnitine Delivery Systems. Yaşacan M, Erikçi A, Eylem CC, Çiftçi SY, Nemutlu E, Ulubayram K, Eroğlu İ. 8, s.l. : AAPS PharmSciTech, 2020, Vol. 21.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 12, 2021.] https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/global-prevalence-of-zinc-deficiency.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 12, 2021.] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 15, 2021.] https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/dietary-supplements-market.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 15, 2021.] https://www.euromonitor.com/vitamins-and-dietary-supplements-in-western-europe/report.
- A Systematic Review and Evidence-based Analysis of Ingredients in Popular Male Fertility Supplements. . Kuchakulla M, Soni Y, Patel P, Parekh N, Ramasamy R. s.l. : Urology, 2020 , Vol. 136.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 10, 2021.] https://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/Article/2018/04/27/Men-are-ideal-market-for-skin-care-supplements.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 15, 2021.] https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-prostate-cancer-therapeutics-market.