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.
Who should buy supplements for men?
Men face a particular set of health challenges thanks in part to the unique hormonal and structural circumstances that are intrinsic to being a man.
On average, men have a harder time navigating these challenges—the life expectancy for men is substantially lower than the life expectancy for women, and men face higher rates of many chronic health conditions like heart disease and type two diabetes.
If you’re a man and you want to take better care of your health, several different kinds of supplements can help you along the way.
Some of these are particular to men: testosterone boosters and estrogen blockers, for example, are specifically designed for enhancing the function of androgens (so-called “male hormones”) which help build muscle, increase vigor, and improve male sexual function. On the other hand, there are other supplements that have broad appeal, but that many men can gain a particular advantage from either because men have a greater need for these supplements, or men have a greater rate of the kind of health problems these supplements can help address.
This latter category includes things like fish oil and green tea extract, which are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that have a good track record of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is a serious health problem in men.
If you want to improve your energy levels, increase physical and sexual performance, and decrease your risk factors for chronic conditions like heart disease and cognitive decline, you should check out some of the best supplements for men.
These products, along with a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity and a healthy diet, can go a long way towards improving your short-term wellbeing and your long-term health.
How we ranked
Because the category of supplements that might benefit men is so broad, we took a different strategy than usual to come up with our rankings.
Before evaluating any specific products, we investigated the most important health and performance problems faced by men of all ages. Then, having identified issues ranging from cardiovascular disease to cognitive decline to a loss of strength and vigor in middle and old age, we sought out the best supplements to help address these issues.
Within each category of health problems or obstacles wellbeing, there are a multitude of options for supplements that might help. So, for a particular issue, such as risk factors for heart disease (e.g. high blood triglycerides and systemic inflammation), we identified the one or two most promising supplements that have the strongest and most persuasive scientific evidence supporting their efficacy.
So, continuing with the example of cardiovascular disease risk, we identified fish oil and green tea extract as the most promising supplements that have the best evidence supporting their use in addressing heart disease risk factors.
We repeated this process for all of the most important and impactful health and wellbeing challenges faced by men, choosing the most promising supplements for each condition or problem.
Then, having aggregated the best supplements to address the unique health and wellness challenges for men, we rank-ordered the options based on both supplement efficacy and the threat posed by the health or wellness challenge.
Hence, things like fish oil and green tea, which are both efficacious ways to address multiple different health problems that men face, ended up high in the rankings. More specialized supplements, or those with somewhat less convincing evidence, ended up lower in the rankings.
After arranging the supplements so that the most effective and important supplements were at the top of the list, we had our final rankings of the best supplements out there for men—these address a wide range of wellness issues faced by men with the most effective supplements known to modern nutritional research.
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 when it comes to many facets of health and wellness. 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).
Many men, especially men over 50, are vitamin D deficient and could benefit from vitamin D supplementation. While its name suggests that vitamin D is a vitamin, in truth, it is a hormone. Moreover, vitamin D plays a major role in everything from mental health and cognitive function to bone mass and risk for frailty.
Vitamin D supplements landed on our list of the most important and beneficial supplements for men both because of its importance and because of the shockingly high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency among men, particularly older men. The scope of the problem was laid out in a scientific article published in 2009 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (12).
The study evaluated a cross-sectional sample of over 1,600 older men in the United States, and used blood markers of vitamin D levels to assess the prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency within the study population. Overall, the researchers found that 26% of older men have frank vitamin D deficiency, and 72% of older men have insufficiency.
When the researchers stratified the population into subgroups, the story got much worse for men who were obese, sedentary, or who had low dietary intake. Most concerningly, many of the men in the study who had vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency actually reported taking a vitamin D supplement.
The fact that these men still had a deficiency suggests that most men who are taking a vitamin D supplement either aren’t taking it often enough or aren’t taking it at a high enough dosage. It might be harder for men to reverse vitamin D deficiency because they tend to have larger bodies, thus requiring a greater absolute amount of vitamin D. Moreover, being overweight or obese makes things even harder, because excess body fat itself makes maintaining vitamin D levels harder.
In other words, a 200-pound powerlifter needs less vitamin D intake to maintain healthy levels compared to a 200-pound couch potato.
Men should be aware that it may take a few thousand IUs of vitamin D per day, every single day for several months, to actually reverse a vitamin D deficiency. When you do take a vitamin D supplement, make sure you get a high dose and that you take it every day.
A green drink can provide the phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables that men need to reduce their risk for heart disease. Many men do not get enough fruits and vegetables as a part of their regular diet, and epidemiological research is clear: men who don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables have a greater risk for heart disease.
One of the many studies which confirmed this finding was published in 2003 in the Journal of Nutrition (13). By studying a large group of Finnish men over the course of several years, the researchers were able to examine how dietary intake influenced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Even after the researchers controlled for major risk factors for heart disease, men who had the greatest fruit and vegetable intake had a 33% lower rate of death from heart disease.
While no supplement can completely replace real fruits and vegetables, green drinks do a pretty good job. If you’re a man interested in lowering your risk profile for heart disease, taking a green drink on a regular basis is an incredibly easy place to start.
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.
Q: What supplements are good for libido?
A: Men who suffer from low libido might be plagued by low testosterone. Simple solutions, like zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D, are often enough to start addressing the problem, but you might also want to look into getting a dedicated testosterone booster.
There are also male enhancement pills that specifically target libido, but before you try those, make sure low testosterone isn’t the underlying issue—it can cause far more problems in your life than just a low libido.
Q: What supplements are good for men who want to lose weight?
A: Men have it a little easier dropping weight than women, thanks to the relative ease with which they can put on muscle. Swap out carbs and sugar-heavy snacks with a protein shake made with whey protein powder, and make sure you hit the weights to build muscle mass.
A thermogenic complex can help accelerate fat loss, but many men can find success with more a simple supplement like green tea extract.
Q: What supplements can help men who are always tired?
A: If you are always tired, fixing the symptoms with caffeine pills isn’t necessarily the best solution. While they work great as a short-term fix, you need to uncover the underlying cause for why you are feeling fatigued all the time. Quite often, men who are always tired actually have low testosterone.
A testosterone booster might help, but you should get your testosterone checked by a doctor to see if you need a prescription medication to fix the problem.
Q: What is a good supplement for treating hair loss?
A: For treating hair loss, there are two treatments that stand out from the rest: finasteride and minoxidil. You need a prescription for finasteride, but you can get minoxidil over the counter, making it a definite candidate for addition to your daily routine
Q: What is a good supplement for men who want to put on body mass?
A: For men looking to gain weight, you’ve got two options: if you want to focus specifically on gaining muscle, and avoid adding any body fat, you want a protein powder.
Whey protein is probably the best candidate for most men, but there are plenty of vegan protein powders available that do a great job too if you can’t eat dairy.
For athletes looking to add mass as fast as possible (like football players), you’ll want to opt for a mass gainer. These supplements deliver huge amounts of calories that help you bulk up as quickly as possible, though this might not be the best approach for overall long-term health.
Q: What can men take to build muscle?
A: Most men already know the most basic supplement for building muscle, which is protein powder. On top of plain protein, adding BCAAs to your supplementation routine can help accelerate muscle repair and synthesis, so these are worth looking into as well. Pre-workout and post-workout supplements can help indirectly, by boosting workout performance and increasing workout recovery.
Q: What are the best vitamins for men?
A: Men should be on the lookout for inadequate intake of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D: these are some of the most common deficiencies in men, and they can lead to significant obstacles to your overall wellbeing, ranging from low testosterone to weakness and frailty. A high quality multivitamin for men should contain these and other vital nutrients that men need for health.
Q: What vitamins are good for erectile dysfunction?
A: For erectile dysfunction, you’ll want to look into male enhancement pills. These contain blends of herbal supplements and vitamins aimed at improving erectile function.
Nitric oxide supplements in particular can increase blood flow and improve sexual function in men. As with other men’s health issues, though, it’s important to search for the underlying cause—erectile dysfunction can be caused by factors ranging from obesity to type two diabetes to low testosterone.
Q: What supplements are best for men over age 50?
A: Men over 50 should be particularly conscious of their antioxidant intake, so supplements like green tea extract or green drinks are great for men over 50.
In addition to the antioxidants that fruits, vegetables, and green tea supply, older men also want to closely monitor their vitamin D intake. Even at vitamin D intake levels deemed adequate for the population as a whole, many older men develop vitamin D insufficiency or vitamin D deficiency.
Q: What are the best workout supplements for men?
A: Men who want to improve their workout performance should check out pre-workout and intra-workout supplement formulations.
These supplements contain potent blends of supplemental compounds that increase energy availability and tune up your central nervous system, leading to superior workout performance.
- Multivitamins for men
- Testosterone boosters
- Estrogen blockers
- Hair loss treatments
- Male enhancement pills
- Fertility supplements
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.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 supplement for men recommendation, click here.