The Top Ten Supplements for Men

 

Bewildered by the hundreds of different supplement bottles on natural/health food store shelves?

You're not alone: With all the good news (and there is a lot of it) about vitamins, minerals and herbs, it's hard to know what not to take.

Many men take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement that provides about 100 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of as many micronutrients as possible. As a nutritional safety net to help safeguard your general health, this is an excellent idea. But don't stop there. Which additional supplements will most benefit you depends on such factors as your age, lifestyle and genetic history. However, there are certain supplements that should be high on every man's shopping list, as they provide protection against the diseases and conditions that are most common to your gender. Following are 10 recommended supplements, including dosages suggested by researchers, plus the best food sources, when applicable.

 

  1. ANTIOXIDANTS

Antioxidants help neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals--chemicals produced as a by-product of metabolism, smoking, drinking alcohol and exposure to pollution. Free radicals have been linked with inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, eczema, asthma; psoriasis and ulcerative colitis, as well as to coronary heart disease, genetic malformations, cancer and premature ageing. The most commonly used antioxidants are vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium. Studies have shown that 800 IU of vitamin E per day reduces the risk of a heart attack in those with heart disease by up to 75 percent.l Other studies revealed that men with low levels of vitamin C are more than three times more likely to have a heart attack than those with normallevels.2 Meanwhile, men taking 200 mcg of selenium daily are 50 percent less likely to die from certain cancers, including those of the prostate, bowel and lung, than those who do not use the supplement.3

Daily doses: Vitamin C: 100 to 1 ,000 mg. If large doses cause indigestion, switch to Ester-C.

Vitamin E: 400 IU.

Selenium: 50 to 200 mcg.

Food sources: Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, kiwi, berries and dark green vegetables.

Vitamin E: Avocados, wheat germ oil, nuts, seeds, whole grains and fish.

Selenium: Brazil nuts.

 

  1. ZINC
  2. Zinc deficiency in males is I common, as each ejaculation contains around 5 mg-one third of the adult daily requirement. Lack of zinc can cause reduced fertility, low sex drive, loss of taste and diminished ability to distinguish scents. Here's a quick way to test whether you are zinc-deficient. Swirl a teaspoon of 5 mg/ 5 ml zinc sulfate solution in your mouth. If the solution seems tasteless, you likely have a deficiency. If the solution tastes furry, of minerals or slightly sweet, your zinc levels are borderline. If it tastes strongly unpleasant, your zinc levels are normal. Zinc supplements can help over- come male infertility in some cases.4 Zinc lozenges also boost immunity and reduce and shorten symptoms of the common cold.

    Daily dose: As a supplement, 10 to 25 mg. To treat a cold, 20 mg one to four times daily, for short-term use only.

    Comments: Doses higher than 25 mg daily may cause nausea or indigestion and interfere with copper and iron metabolism. Zinc also interferes with the absorption of tetracycline antibiotics, so take the two a few hours apart.

    Food sources: Seafood (especially oysters), nuts, seeds, whole grains and meat.

     

  3. FOLIC ACID
  4. This B vitamin can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in men with high levels of the amino acid homocysteine. One in 10 men is thought to have high homocysteine levels, tripling the risk of a heart attack or stroke.5, 6 One in 160,000 men has very high levels (homocysteinuria), meaning 30 times the risk of premature circulatory problems.

    Daily dose: 400 to 650 mcg.

    Comments: Take with vitamin B12 (in a B-complex formulation), since they complement each other. Folic acid interacts with some anti-epileptic drugs and with methotrexate, which is used in the treatment of severe psoriasis and some cancers. Folic acid should not be taken with these drugs except under medical advice.

    Food sources: Dark green, leafy vegetables.

     

  5. GARLIC
  6. Garlic has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as to thin the blood, dilate blood vessels and improve blood circulation.7 , 8 Standardized garlic tablets reduce the risk of stroke by up to 40 percent and the risk of a heart attack by up to 25 percent. Garlic also has anti-viral properties.

    Daily dose: 600 to 900 mg. Deodorized formulas or coated tablets eliminate the odour problem.

    Food source: Raw or cooked garlic.

     

  7. OMEGA-3 FISH OIL
  8. Omega-3 fish oils contain important essential fatty acids. Studies show these fatty acids can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, halve the risk of a stroke9 or heart attack,10 and help prevent cardiac death. In those who have had a heart attack, eating fish with a high fat content significantly reduces the chance of a second heart attack and the chance of dying from it.11 Fish oils can also improve long-term inflammatory diseases and boost immune function.

    Daily dose: Usually 1 to 4 g daily.

    Comments: Some research suggests that fish oils increase blood sugar levels in diabetics. However, omega-3 fish oils also protect against the increased risk of coronary heart disease associated with diabetes. If you are diabetic, monitor your sugar levels carefully. Seek medical advice before taking if you have a blood clotting disorder or are taking blood thinning drugs such as warfarin or aspirin, which may increase the tendency to bleed.

    Food sources: Salmon, mackerel, her- ring, sardines and other fatty fish.

     

  9. SAW PALMETTO
  10. Extracts from the fruit of the dwarf American palm tree (Serenoa repens) relieve symptoms of benign prostate enlargement and encourage shrinking of the gland. The use of saw palmetto supplements resulted in the male subjects’ ability to urinate more frequently and with a significantly increased rate of flow.12 Another study showed a 38 percent decrease in prostate symptoms after six months'treatment.13

    Daily dose: 150 mg. to 3 g. in divided doses.

    Comments: Men with urinary problems should always seek medical advice before self-medicating.

     

  11. CAT'S CLAW
  12. Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is taken for immune support. It encourages white blood cells to absorb and destroy microorganisms and abnormal cells. It is also used for anti-inflammatory. anti-viral and possible anti-cancer actions.14

    Daily dose: Start off with a low dose (e.g., two 150 mg standardized capsules) and slowly build up to a therapeutic dose (five 150 mg. capsules).

    Comments: Cat's claw increases the immune rejection of foreign cells, so it should not be used by anyone who has recently had, or is scheduled to receive, an organ/bone marrow transplant or skin graft; or by those taking immunosuppressive drugs. Some researchers recommend that cat's claw be stopped two days before and two days after receiving chemotherapy. (Note: Women should not use cat's claw during pregnancy or when breast-feeding)

     

  13. MILK THISTLE
  14. Milk thistle helps protect the liver from the poisonous effects of excess alcohol, and it supports liver cell regeneration after toxic or viral liver damage.15 Milk thistle may, therefore. .be beneficial for men who drink heavily.

    Daily dose: 50 to 200 mg three times a day.

     

  15. GLUCOSAMINE SULFATE
  16. Glucosamine sulfate occurs naturally in the body, but it is often in short supply. Glucosamine sulfate is needed for the production of new cartilage and to improve the quality of the joint's oil, known as synovial fluid, by making it thicker and more protective. Studies show that supplements of glucosamine can help repair damaged joints, torn cartilage, sprained ligaments, strained tendons and prolapsed spinal discs, and can improve symptoms by as much as 73 percent. 16 The effect may be improved by combining glucosamine sulfate with chondroitin, a substance formed as the body repairs cartilage. Glucosamine sulfate is especially helpful for men by combining glucosamine sulfate with chondroitin, a substance formed as the body repairs cartilage. Glucosamine sulfate is especially helpful for men with back pain, arthritis and sports injuries.

    Daily dose: 500 to 1,000 mg, one to three times daily, between meals.

     

  17. GINSENG

Ginseng (Panax ginseng) acts as adaptogen, helping to improve physical mental energy in of stress. It seems to normalize glucose and hormone levels, has an anti-fatigue action and improves concentration. In the laboratory, ginseng stimulates proliferation of cells and prolongs their life. Korean ginseng has recently been shown to increase sperm count and testosterone levels in men.17

Daily dose: Depends on grade of root. Choose a standardized product with a low dose and work up from 200 to 1 ,000 mg a day. Optimum dose is usually 600 mg a day. In Asia, ginseng is taken in a two-weeks-on and two-weeks-off cycle. Siberian ginseng {Eleutherococcus senticosus) is unrelated but has similar actions. It is usually cheaper and is also less stimulation for those who find Korean ginseng too strong. Daily dose: 250 to 500 mg once or twice daily.

Comments: Do not take ginseng if you have high blood pressure, as it can make hypertension worse. When taking ginseng, avoid other stimulants such as tea, coffee and cola drinks. Since vitamin C may neutralize ginseng, some practitioners suggest an eight-hour interval between taking the two. (Note: Women should not take ginseng during pregnancy, when breast-feeding or if they have breast cancer, except under medical advice.)

 

BY: SARAH BREWER, M.D.

 

Reference:

  1. Stephen, N G, et al. Randomised controlled trial of vitamin E in patients with coronary disease: Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS), Lancet 1996; 347: 781-786.
  2. NYYSSONEN, K, ET AL. “ VITAMIN C DIFICIENCY AND RISK OF MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION : PROSPECTIVE POPULATION STUDY OF MENFRIN EASTERN FINLAND,” BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL 314(7081) :634-638, 1997.
  3. CLARK, L. C., ET AL. “EFFECTS OF SELENIUM SUPPLEMENTATION FOR CANCER PREVENTION IN PATIENTS WITH CARCINOMA OF THE SKIN,” JAMA 276:1957-1963, 1996.
  4. MACPHERSON, A., ET AL. “EFFECT OF SELENIUM SUPPLEMENTATION IN SUB-FERTILE MALES.” ABSTRACT. 8TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON TRACE ELEMENTS METABOLISM IN MAN AND ANIMALS, 1993.
  5. BOUSHEY, C. J., ET AL. “ A QUANTATIVE ASSESSMENT OF PLASMA HOMOCTYSTEINE AS A RISK FACTOR FOR VASCULAR DISEASE. PROBABLE BENEFITS OF INCREASING FOLIC ACID INTAKES,” JAMA 274(13):49-57, 1995.
  6. STAMPFER, M. J., AND MALINOW, M. R. “CAN LOWERING HOMOCYSTEINE LEVELS REDUCE CARDIOVASCULAR RISK?” NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE 332(5):328-329, 1995.
  7. KEIEWETTER, H., ET AL. “EFFECT OF GARLIC ON THROMOBOCYTE AGGREGATION, MICROCIRCULATION AND OTHER RISK FACTORS,” INT. J. PHARMACOL., THER.& TOXICOL.29(4):151-155, 1991.
  8. SILAGY, C., AND NEIL, A. “GARLIC AS A LIPID LOWERING AGENT---A META-ANALYSIS,” J. R. COLL. PHYSICIANS LOND.28(1):39-45, 1994.
  9. KELI, S. O., ET AL. “FISH CONSUMPTION AND RISK OF STROKE. THE ZUTPHEN STUDY.” STROKE 25(2):328-332, 1994.
  10. SISCOVICK, D. S., ET AL. “DIETARY INTAKE AND CELL MEMBRANE LEVELS OF LONG CHAIN OMEGA-3 POLYUNSATURARED FATTY ACIDS AND THE RISK OF PRIMARY CARDIAC ARREST,” JAMA 274:1363-1367, 1995.
  11. BURR, M. L., ET AL.”EFFECTS OF CHANGES IN FAT, FISH AND FIBRE INTAKES ON DEATH AND MYOCARDIAL REINFAECTION. DIET AND REINFARCTION TRIAL(DART), LANCET II:757-761, 1989.
  12. DESCOTES, J. L., ET AL. “PLACEBO-CONTROLLED EVALUATION OF THE EFFICACY AND TOLERABILITY OF PERMIXON IN BPH AFTER EXCLUSION OF PLACEBO RESPONDERS,” CLIN. DRUG INVEST. 5:291-297, 1995.
  13. CARRARO, J. C., ET AL. “COMPARISON OF PHOTOTHERAPY(PERMIXON) WITH FINASTERIDE IN THE TREATMENT OF BPH: A RANDOMIZED INTERNATIONAL STUDY OF 1098 PATIENTS,” PROSTATE 29(4):231-342, 1996.
  14. SCHAUSS, ALEXANDER. THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CAT’S CLAW. NEW CANAAN, CONN.: KEATS PUBLISHING, INC., 1996.
  15. FLORA, K., ET AL. “MILK THISTLE (SILYBUM MARIANUM) FPR THE THERAPY OF LIVER DISEASE.” AM. J. GASTROENTEROL. 93(2):139-143, 1998.
  16. DROVANTI. A., ET AL. “THERAPEUTIC ACTIVITY OF ORAL GLUCOSAMINE SULPHATE IN OSTEROARTHRITIS: A PLACEBO-CONTROLLED DOUBLE-BLIND INVESTIGATION,” CLIN. THER.3(4):260-272, 1980.
  17. SALVATI, G., ET AL. “EFFECTS OF PANAX GINSENG C. A. MEYER SAPONINS ON MALE FERTILITY,” PANMINERVA MED. 38(4):249-254, 1996.