Top Supplements for Men's Health
You’ve got a busy and active life, and if you’re like most guys, thinking about nutrition isn’t at the top of your to-do list. Not until you start to notice that you’re not quite as indestructible as you used to be. When you’re young, you can eat something quick on the go, stay out late, and still have energy to tackle your projects the next day. Once you get into your 30s and 40s, though, your lifestyle starts to catch up with you. Life isn’t slowing down, but your body is. You realize you’ve got one body to live in, and the better you take care of it, the better you’ll be able to perform in all areas of life.
If you want to wake up energized and upbeat, think clearly, and get through your workday and your workout without feeling wasted, you need to give your body and brain the right kind of fuel. But studies show that only 1 in 10 Americans eat as many fruits and vegetables as they should, with men eating some of the least. Even if you try to eat healthyish, your diet may lack the variety that it takes to get the full range of nutrients your body needs every day. To top it off, the fruits and veggies we do eat are less nutritious than they used to be, thanks to soil depletion.
What it boils down to is that most of us have gaps in our nutrition, and sooner or later, we’ll feel the effects. That’s why nutritional supplements fit so well into the modern lifestyle. They can help fill those inevitable nutrient gaps and make sure we’re getting all the vitamins and minerals we need. So how do you know what you might need? Here are some of the most important and frequently recommended supplements for men’s health.
There’s a reason that fish oil supplements are the most popular supplements being taken today. Fish oil is one of the few sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids -- healthy fats that your body needs to function and can’t produce on its own. You can get omega-3s from fish, nuts, and seeds, but these are not typically a large part of the American diet.
The most important omega 3s for human health are EPA and DHA, which are found almost exclusively in fatty fish. The American Heart Association says we should be eating fish at least twice a week to get those omega 3s -- but most of us don’t. That’s too bad, because in cultures that do eat fish regularly, people live longer and have much lower rates of heart disease -- even when they share other high risk factors, such as smoking and high blood sugar levels.1,2,3 This discovery led researchers to begin studying the heart-healthy benefits of omega 3s.
There is now a strong body of evidence showing that fish and fish oils have protective heart health benefits, with positive effects on several risk factors, including triglyceride levels, healthy blood vessel function, and a healthy inflammation response.4,5,6,7 When you consider that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and that men tend to develop it earlier than women, you can see why this supplement is first on our list.
But omega-3 fatty acids aren’t just good for your heart. These essential fats help make up healthy cell membranes throughout the body, and are especially concentrated in the brain. Fun fact: your brain is 60% fat, and about 30% of your gray matter is made up of DHA.8 Omega 3 fatty acids support healthy brain and nerve function and help regulate inflammation in the brain, which is a risk factor for mood disorders and cognitive decline.9,10 Omega 3s are also highly concentrated in sperm, and have been linked with better sperm quality and male fertility.11,12
A word to the wise: fish oil supplements vary widely in quality, so check out our guide for choosing a quality fish oil supplement. You can find our Omega 3 fish oil supplement here. We also offer a Vegan DHA supplement from algae if you want to stick with plant-based supplements.
This is one nutrient that has little to do with your diet. Our main source of vitamin D is the sun. Yet for a number of reasons, lack of vitamin D has become extremely common worldwide.13 Long hours indoors and increased use of sunscreen are two big factors. The farther north of the equator you live, and the darker your skin, the more likely that you may be low in vitamin D. Nearly all of us run low on vitamin D in the winter, and researchers now think that this may play a major role in the seasonal uptick in colds and flus, as well as seasonal depression.
Vitamin D is traditionally best known for its bone health benefits, but it also has a big impact on your day-to-day health and well-being. It plays a crucial role in activating your immune defenses, and low levels of vitamin D are linked with an increased risk of catching bugs, including common respiratory ones.14,15 Vitamin D also helps regulate moods, and low vitamin D levels are linked with an increased risk of mood imbalances.16,17 If you are prone to colds and the winter blues, it could be a lack of vitamin D.
Researchers have also found a link between vitamin D deficiency and low testosterone levels.18 Low T levels can affect your metabolism, sleep, energy, and libido, making you feel even more sluggish. In one year-long, placebo-controlled clinical trial, men with lower testosterone levels who took vitamin D supplements (3300 IU per day) increased their testosterone levels by 20%.19
It’s a good idea to have a vitamin D supplement on hand during winter or on days when you are stuck inside. Our Vegan Vitamin D3 supplement is available in either a 2500 IU maintenance dose or a high potency 5000 IU dose to restore healthy levels in those who are deficient.
Magnesium is one of the busiest minerals in your body. It’s present in every cell and involved in more than 600 biochemical reactions. You need it for muscle movement and cellular energy production, for managing your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and for relaxation and sleep. Yet nearly half of Americans have low magnesium intake and don’t even know it.20 Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include heart palpitations, anxiety, muscle cramps, mood swings, tension headaches, sleep issues, and constipation.
Magnesium is especially important for guys who are active. Your body uses up to 20% more magnesium when you exercise,21 using it to produce ATP in the cells, move glucose into the muscles for energy, regulate your muscle contractions, and dispose of waste build-up that can cause muscle fatigue.22 If you run low on magnesium, you’ll feel more weak, sore, crampy, and exhausted after exercise. On the other hand, magnesium supplements have been shown to boost exercise performance, muscle strength, and exercise tolerance.23,24,25 Magnesium has even been shown to boost testosterone levels when combined with exercise.26
Guys need at least 420 mg of magnesium a day if they are over 30, and 400 mg if they’re under 30. You can find magnesium in spinach, almonds, black beans, avocados, brown rice, and bananas, but it’s still easy to fall short of the threshold. Alcohol and caffeine can also interfere with mineral absorption.
A magnesium supplement can help boost your daily intake. Look for a chelated form of magnesium, as this will be easier for your body to absorb and gentler to the digestive system. Our Magnesium supplement includes 200 mg chelated magnesium to boost your levels, plus a blend of plant-based whole food sources of magnesium, like spinach and quinoa.
Zinc is another multitasking mineral that plays hundreds of roles in your body. It’s one of the best known supplements for men because of its important role in male hormonal and reproductive health.27 Zinc helps maintain healthy testosterone levels in the blood and triggers the release of LH, the hormone that activates testosterone production. Low levels of zinc are linked with low testosterone levels and related sexual health and fertility issues.28,29
Testosterone levels start gradually tapering off as you age. Stress, alcohol, and medications can also affect your T levels. When your levels drop, it doesn’t just affect your sex drive, but your energy, mood, and metabolism, too. Lower testosterone is linked with muscle loss, increased fat, and decreased bone mass.30 If your T levels are low, zinc supplements can help boost your levels and increase sperm count.31
related: Why You Need Zinc at Every Age
Zinc is also a great supplement to have on hand for immune support. Zinc is a powerful immune booster that can help defend against common colds and flus, and can shorten their duration by an impressive 40% if taken in the first 24 hrs.32,33 While a healthy guy only needs about 11 mg of zinc a day, you can safely take up to 40 mg a day if you need it, and high doses are fine to take temporarily for fighting a cold.
We include 11 mg zinc in our Whole Food Multivitamin for Men and 15 mg of zinc in our Immunity Support supplement. We also have a standalone Vegan Zinc supplement that includes 35 mg zinc from brown rice chelate, along with a whole food blend of veggies like asparagus, beets, green peas, broccoli, okra, and spinach, which are typical sources of naturally-occuring zinc.
In the end, if you aren’t sure what you need, but you want to round out your nutrition, our Whole Food Multivitamin for Men is a great option. It covers your bases with 25 essential vitamins and minerals to complement your diet, using natural and bioactive nutrients that are easy for your body to absorb. Plus, it includes herbal extracts to support your energy, brain, heart, and eye health, digestive enzymes and probiotics to support your gut health, and a blend of organic fruits and vegetables for that extra whole food nutrition.
1. Studies find new omega-3 benefits: But are you getting the right healthy fats? (special report) Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. 2007;25(5):4-5.
2. Iso H, Kobayashi M, Ishihara J, et al. Intake of fish and n3 fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease among Japanese: The Japan Public Health Center-Based (JPHC) Study Cohort I. Circulation. 2006;113:195-202.
3. Sekikawa A, Curb DJ, Ueshima H, et al. Marine-derived n-3 fatty acids and atherosclerosis in Japanese, Japanese-American, and white men: A cross-sectional study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008;52:417-424.
4. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Health.” National Institutes of Health.
5. “Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease.” Kris-Etherton, P.M., Harris, W.S., Appel, L.J. Circulation, Vol 106, Iss 21, Nov 2002.
6. Chenchen Wang, William S Harris, Mei Chung, Alice H Lichtenstein, Ethan M Balk, Bruce Kupelnick, Harmon S Jordan, Joseph Lau, n−3 Fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not α-linolenic acid, benefit cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary- and secondary-prevention studies: a systematic review, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 84, Issue 1, July 2006, Pages 5–17, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/84.1.5
7. “Omega 3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
8. Ammann, E.M., et al., ω-3 fatty acids and domain-specific cognitive aging: secondary analyses of data from WHISCA. Neurology, 2013. 81(17): p. 1484-1491.
9. Zivkovic, Angela M et al. “Dietary omega-3 fatty acids aid in the modulation of inflammation and metabolic health.” California agriculture vol. 65,3 (2011): 106-111. doi:10.3733/ca.v065n03p106
10. DHA may prevent age-related dementia. J Nutr. 2010;140(4):869-874. doi:10.3945/jn.109.113910
11. Salas-Huetos A. More Evidence of the Association of Diet With Human Testicular Function—Fish Oil Supplements. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(1):e1919569. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.19569
12. Smith, Aden. “Can Omega 3s Naturally Support Male Fertility?” Nordic NAturals Healthy Science, Jan 2020.
13. Chapuy MC, Preziosi P, Maamer M, Arnaud S, Galan P, Hercberg S, Meunier PJ. Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in an adult normal population. Osteoporos Int. 1997;7(5):439-43. doi: 10.1007/s001980050030. PMID: 9425501.
14. Aranow, Cynthia. “Vitamin D and the immune system.” Journal of investigative medicine : the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research vol. 59,6 (2011): 881-6. doi:10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755
15. Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1255-60. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.29094. Epub 2010 Mar 10. PMID: 20219962.
16. Anglin RE, Samaan Z, Walter SD, McDonald SD. Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Psychiatry. 2013 Feb;202:100-7. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.106666. PMID: 23377209.
17. Jigna Shah and Sakshi Gurbani (December 24th 2019). “Association of Vitamin D Deficiency and Mood Disorders: A Systematic Review,” Vitamin D Deficiency, Julia Fedotova, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.90617.
18. Wehr E, Pilz S, Boehm BO, März W, Obermayer-Pietsch B. Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2010 Aug;73(2):243-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2009.03777.x. Epub 2009 Dec 29. PMID: 20050857.
19. Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, Kuhn J, Dreier J, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Wehr E, Zittermann A. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1269854. Epub 2010 Dec 10. PMID: 21154195.
20. Rosanoff A, Weaver CM, Rude RK. “Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated?” Nutr Rev. 2012 Mar;70(3):153-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00465.x. Epub 2012 Feb 15. PMID: 22364157.
21. Nielsen FH, Lukaski HC. “Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise.” Magnes Res. 2006 Sep;19(3):180-9. PMID: 17172008.
22. Chen HY, Cheng FC, Pan HC, Hsu JC, Wang MF. “Magnesium enhances exercise performance via increasing glucose availability in the blood, muscle, and brain during exercise.” PLoS One. 2014 Jan 20;9(1):e85486. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085486. PMID: 24465574; PMCID: PMC3896381.
23. Setaro L, Santos-Silva PR, Nakano EY, Sales CH, Nunes N, Greve JM, Colli C. “Magnesium status and the physical performance of volleyball players: effects of magnesium supplementation.” J Sports Sci. 2014;32(5):438-45. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2013.828847. Epub 2013 Sep 9. PMID: 24015935.
24. Brilla LR, Haley TF. Effect of magnesium supplementation on strength training in humans. J Am Coll Nutr. 1992 Jun;11(3):326-9. doi: 10.1080/07315724.1992.10718233. PMID: 1619184.
25. Golf SW, Bender S, Grüttner J. “On the significance of magnesium in extreme physical stress.” Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1998 Sep;12 Suppl 2:197-202. doi: 10.1023/a:1007708918683. PMID: 9794094.
26. Cinar V, Polat Y, Baltaci AK, Mogulkoc R. Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Apr;140(1):18-23. doi: 10.1007/s12011-010-8676-3. Epub 2010 Mar 30. PMID: 20352370.
27. Fallah, Ali et al. “Zinc is an Essential Element for Male Fertility: A Review of Zn Roles in Men's Health, Germination, Sperm Quality, and Fertilization.” Journal of reproduction & infertility vol. 19,2 (2018): 69-81.
28. Prasad AS, Mantzoros CS, Beck FW, Hess JW, Brewer GJ. Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults. Nutrition. 1996 May;12(5):344-8. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(96)80058-x. PMID: 8875519.
29. Case-lo, Christine. “The Link Between Zinc and Erectile Dysfunction.” Healthline, July 2020.
30. Wallace, Ryan. “12 Signs of Low Testosterone.” Healthline, April 2019.
31. Netter A, Hartoma R, Nahoul K. Effect of zinc administration on plasma testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and sperm count. Arch Androl. 1981 Aug;7(1):69-73. doi: 10.3109/01485018109009378. PMID: 7271365.
32. Singh M, Das RR. “Zinc for the common cold.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(2):CD001364. Published 2011 Feb 16. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub3
33. Hemilä, Harri. “Zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of colds: a systematic review.” The open respiratory medicine journal vol. 5 (2011): 51-8. doi:10.2174/1874306401105010051