Many men take supplements to increase energy levels, muscle growth, testosterone levels and improve their overall health.
Men live shorter lives in large part because of their increased risk for chronic disease like cardiovascular disease and cancer, and men have to worry about the quality of life decline that comes along with the aging-related decrease in testosterone levels.
Many of these issues can be lessened, to some degree, by the right supplements.
With millions of supplements out there, we’ve shortened the best mens supplements to only include the essentials.
We’ve reviewed the most beneficial and most effective supplements a man can take to maintain and even improve his health and well-being.
1. Fish oil
There aren’t many supplements that everybody should take, but fish oil is one of the few.
When the alternative is trying to find the time to cook fish every day, or allowing yourself to be at a greater risk for disease and mental decline, it’s hard to find a reason not to take fish oil on a regular basis.
Protein is not just for guys trying to pack on muscle. It’s been proven as an effective weight loss supplement too.
By adding a protein supplement to your diet, you can lose fat mass while retaining your muscle mass. On top of that, protein helps induce a sense of satiety, which will keep you from eating more than you should.
One of the biggest concerns for men getting into middle age is low testosterone, or “low T.” You’ve probably heard of it.
Fatigue, increased fat mass, a decrease in muscle mass and strength, and worst of all, impotence, erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, and other sexual problems.
All of these are hallmarks of low testosterone. To fight this, you’ll want a supplement that provides all-around support to keep your testosterone levels high.
As far as supplements that fight oxidative damage and inflammation, there is nothing better than green tea extract.
Yes, you could get the same benefit from drinking nine or ten cups of tea per day, but for most people, it’s far easier to just take one capsule that contains the optimal dose of green tea extract.
In addition to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s also one of the most-proven fat-burning supplements out there. Taking something that fights aging, fights chronic disease, and keeps you lean is a no-brainer.
In the age of information, a man’s brain is his most valuable asset. The science is advanced enough now to say with some certainty that a good nootropic supplement can facilitate brain function that’s beyond what you are normally capable of.
If you want to learn faster, remember more, and solve problems more effectively, you need a nootropic supplement as part of your daily routine.
Further, there’s even evidence that many of the compounds in the best nootropic supplements can delay or prevent the cognitive declines that often come along with getting older.
One of the new frontiers in medicine is the field of probiotics–the study of the “good bacteria” that live in our stomach and intestines that, strangely, keep us healthy.
The field has cranked out some shocking findings–for example, that obese people have a different gut bacteria makeup than healthy people, and that if you “transplant” good bacteria into obese people, they’ll actually lose weight.
Probiotics are implicated in a huge number of other health conditions, so all the evidence pouring in indicates that you should be taking one.
7. Vitamin D
Unless you are living near the equator, there’s a good chance you are vitamin D deficient.
Given vitamin D’s connection with everything from chronic pain to depression and cognitive decline, deficiency in this vital vitamin (which is really a hormone) is not something you want to mess with.
The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is staggering, especially for people who have jobs that keep them indoors, people with darker skin, and people who live at northern lattitudes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Less than one in five adults meets their required fruit and vegetable intake (4).
Not only that, according to the US government’s 2015-202 dietary guidelines, these fruits and vegetables are supposed to come from varied types of fruits and vegetables (5).
If you are not always meeting these guidelines (and really, who can?) with a wide range of the best fruits and vegetables, a green superfood drink is a great way to make up for it.
You can put a few scoops of powder into a smoothie, protein shake, or even a glass of water, and get the equivalent of several servings of the best superfoods out there.
If you have a sense that your diet could be better than it is, you might want to consider a multivitamin just as an insurance policy.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of eating the same things over and over, day after day. When you do this, there’s a chance you’ll be deficient in some trace mineral or vitamin that could negatively impact your health.
The odds of major vitamin deficiency are pretty low for people with a reasonable diet, but given that the best multivitamins are both inexpensive and effective, it’s not a bad idea to add one to your daily routine.
For men who are trying to fight off the fat gains that often come with middle age, conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, is a good addition to your supplementation routine.
It’s particularly useful for men whose diets restrict them from CLA-rich foods like beef, milk, and eggs. This natural supplement increases your ability to burn fat, as well as increases your ability to retain muscle mass.
Benefits and side effects of supplements for men
Men need to take particular care when setting up their supplementation routine. Being aware of the specific health and hormonal challenges men face is critical when it comes to setting up your lifestyle to maximize health, fitness, and well-being.
What’s different about men? First of all, their health is strongly dictated by testosterone and the bodily functions it mediates: muscle mass, sexual health, and even mental well-being are all related to testosterone levels in men.
Secondly, men, on the whole, have a significantly shorter life expectancy than women. This is because they are more likely to succumb to the chronic diseases that are the biggest killers in the developed world: heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
These three are all related to chronic inflammation, oxidative damage, and cardiovascular health.
Supplementation can help men counter the obstacles they face on all of these fronts.
The right dietary supplement regimen can reduce chronic inflammation, oxidative damage, and the age-related decreases in testosterone and in muscle mass that many men experience as they get into middle age and beyond.
Fish oil is one of the best supplements for men precisely because it attacks so many of the health problems that men are disproportionately likely to face.
The evidence for its efficacy is, in short, astounding. In terms of cardiovascular disease, a scientific statement by the American Heart Association found that consumption of high amounts of fish oil decreased risk of heart disease by half, and decreased risk of sudden death by heart attack by two-thirds (6).
The omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil are thought to decrease the levels of chemicals in your blood that cause heart disease and artery damage.
In terms of mental well-being, a review study by a team of scientists commissioned by the American Psychiatric Association found wide-ranging effects of omega three supplementation in issues ranging from depression to cognitive decline (7).
Because there’s less research on the biology of omega three fatty acids in the brain, scientists aren’t quite sure why it seems so helpful, but nevertheless, it does seem quite effective.
Green tea extract is another all-star when it comes to fighting chronic disease. Green tea is an excellent counterpart to fish oil, because while the benefits of fish oil on risk cancer don’t seem to be significant, green tea is exactly the opposite.
Research out of Japan (where many people consume green tea on a regular basis) found that consumption of green tea has a substantial effect in reducing risk of cancer (8).
This was corroborated by a scientific correspondence in the prestigious journal Nature that outlined a number of mechanisms by which the active compounds in green tea produce an anti-cancer effect in the body (9).
When considering the other determinants of men’s health–strength, libido and sexual function, and physical fitness–the main determinant here seems to be testosterone.
That’s why keeping testosterone levels high is so important for men, especially as they age. Problems that plague many men, like erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, general fatigue and listlessness, and more, can all be traced to low testosterone levels.
It’s no secret that testosterone levels go down in men as they get older. This was demonstrated conclusively in a large study of over 8,000 men published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (10).
The researchers who conducted this study found that, even when you control for health status, age is an independent cause of low testosterone.
Treatments that increase testosterone also combat the conditions associated with low testosterone, as you might expect.
Men who see increases in testosterone levels see increases in muscle mass, decreases in fat mass, and improved sexual well-being (11).
For these reasons, a supplement that keeps your testosterone levels high is of great value to men, especially as they get into middle age.
Testosterone also plays a critical role in maintenance of muscle mass. Muscle isn’t just for looking good: as you get older, having more muscle becomes increasingly important for maintaining your health and well-being.
If you aren’t careful, and you lose a few pounds of muscle every year, before you realize it, you can end up so frail that daily tasks like getting out of a chair or climbing the stairs become a real challenge.
This is a named medical condition called frailty, and it affects millions of men once they get into old age.
A high-quality protein supplement is an excellent way to fight frailty in the long-term and keep your strength, fitness, and good looks in the short term.
Indeed, protein supplements are even used in clinical studies to prevent frailty, and high protein intake does appear to decrease the risk of frailty in large population-based studies (11).
Part of why the supplements recommended above are the best for men is explicitly because they carry little or no risk of adverse effects.
Some supplements, like the emerging nootropic compounds, have not been studied in detail over long periods of time, so the risks here are more speculative.
It may be the case that there are negative effects that don’t emerge right away, but again, this is hypothetical, not proven. If this is a concern for you, stick with the tried and true supplements for men, and be patient for the cutting-edge stuff like nootropics to become more well-researched.
Men’s health and well-being are determined largely by their susceptibility to chronic disease like heart disease, stroke, and cancer, as well as the hormonal effects of testosterone and its related consequences (i.e. muscle mass, sexual well-being, etc).
A proper supplemental routine can help on all of these fronts, helping you not just be healthier, but feel stronger, younger, and more energized than ever.