Depending on where you get your medical information, you might be convinced that men need only concern themselves with strengthening their fitness and libido in order to be considered “healthy”. While these issues certainly warrant attention, they barely scratch the surface of the discussion on men’s health.
That said, it’s well-established that men suffer from higher rates of morbidity and mortality than women due to unhealthy lifestyle factors. Furthermore, men are less likely to get screening and treatment for chronic diseases (let’s change that, fellas!)
According to the Institute for Natural Medicine, the top health concerns for men are:
- Prostate health
- Hormone imbalance (including low testerone)
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic pain
Sexual dysfunction is also on the list, but it’s important to note that it is frequently related to one of the other health issues mentioned above.
For a deeper dive into the topic of men’s health, we asked B12 LOVE’s Naturopathic Doctors, Dr. Jason Servatius, ND, and Dr. Christian Anguiano, ND (@dr.christian.nd) to explain the key nutrient and lifestyle considerations for optimizing wellness in all men, especially as they age.
Dr. Servatius noted that “when it comes to men’s health, focus on the foundations first – excellent hydration, abundant and restful sleep, a high-fiber (plant-based) diet, regular exercise, stress management, and supplementing with the right nutrients. Once these are dialed in properly, many of the most common barriers towards improving health will fall away.”
Dr. Christian added that testosterone support, prostate health, and mitigating inflammation are also crucial components. This is true even for younger men, who should be focused on prevention.
What about nutrient supplementation? At the top of both experts’ lists were 7 nutrients for optimizing men’s health at all stages of life.
1. Vitamin D
We’ve all heard about the benefits of vitamin D for immune health, but did you know that it can help regulate the production of testosterone? Since much of the population is deficient in vitamin D, spending time outside regularly and supplementing with vitamin D (according to your body’s needs) is an easy way to stay ahead of the game.
Vitamin D also boosts mood and promotes calcium absorption. Is there anything this nutrient can’t do??
2. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 regulates sex hormones, in both women and men. As such, it’s not surprising that vitamin B6 deficiency is linked to low testosterone levels. Vitamin B6 also plays a critical role in the central nervous system, where it produces the mood-regulating neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.
Last, vitamin B6 helps maintain normal levels of homocysteine – an amino acid that may be indicative of heart disease, and which can become elevated in the presence of mental stress.
Zinc is the second most abundant trace element in humans and one of the most powerful nutrients for men. Zinc deficiency has been linked to lower testosterone levels, enlarged prostate, cognitive decline, immune dysfunction, and more. Zinc is also a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Thus, supplementation with zinc has been shown to prevent inflammation in the prostate and improve sperm health, amongst other things.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body. Most notably for men, it assists in regulating blood pressure, balancing blood sugar, maintaining muscle and nerve function, and has been shown to positively affect anabolic hormonal status, including testosterone, in older men.
Moreover, magnesium’s role in facilitating blood vessel relaxation not only helps with managing stress, but may have a positive effect on erectile function.
Potassium is necessary for the normal functioning of all cells… bold statement indeed! This under-appreciated (and under-consumed) mineral regulates heartbeat and blood pressure, ensures proper function of the muscles and nerves, and is vital for synthesizing protein, maintaining intracellular fluid volume, and metabolizing carbohydrates… all things men should be paying close attention to, especially as they age.
Men should reap the many benefits of glutathione (GSH) – the master antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation in the body, support immunity, reduce oxidative stress, and promote detoxification. It’s also an amazing nutrient for improving fertility, in both men and women. Although glutathione is naturally found in the body, environmental toxins, stress, poor nutrition, aging, and even poor sleep can deplete the body of its GSH.
NAD+ is an essential cofactor involved in mitochondrial function. Mitochondria perform numerous functions within our tissues, including energy production, immune defense, and stem cell regulation. Unfortunately, as we age so do our mitochondria. A decline in mitochondrial quality and activity has been correlated with a wide range of age-related diseases, including heart failure, dementia, chronic inflammation, and cancer, to name a few. On the surface, NAD+ will boost stamina and focus, but its benefits extend far deeper. As a long-time B12 LOVE client once said, “NAD+ is game changing”. We couldn’t agree more!
Guys, what health questions and concerns do you have? Tell us via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Email… or visit a B12 LOVE location near you to talk to one of our Naturopathic Doctors about optimizing your health and wellness.