For men, achieving optimal health requires a multipronged approach. In addition to universal health objectives such as strong immunity, healthy hearts and enduring cognition, men have unique health needs to consider.
Prostate health, sexual health and hormone regulation are among the specific concerns of male consumers. For active men and athletes, strength, performance and energy also make the health goals short list.
Nutrition plays a critical role in helping men achieve whole-body health. And, increasingly, nutraceutical ingredients can provide critical support to ensure men get the targeted nutrition they need to achieve wellness in all areas of health.
Brands and formulators can take note of a variety of well-researched ingredients that may aid in supporting the specific health needs of men.
1. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds may be small, but, according to research, they’re mighty. Pumpkin seeds contain bioactive compounds connected to numerous healthful activities, such as anthelmintic, antidiabetic, antidepressant, antioxidant, antitumor and cytoprotective properties.1 When applied functionally, these bioactives may have the potential to offer targeted effects for certain health disorders. Among these are prostate disorders, making them a potential nutrition powerhouse for men.
Prostate health is a key concern for men, especially as they age. That’s because the prostate and surrounding tissue expand as men age. For some, the prostate can grow too large, adding pressure to the urethra and damaging the bladder—a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
In one Austrian study of 60 men with a mean age of 62.3 years and suffering moderate or severe symptomatic BPH for at least six months, an extract of defatted pumpkin seeds from Cucurbita pepo L. ssp. pepo var. styriaca (Go-Less Men [EFLA940], from IFF Health) significantly reduced International Prostate Symptom Scores (IPSS), a screening tool used to measure the severity of lower urinary tract symptoms caused by BPH.2
Lycopene, a carotenoid that lends bright red hues to tomatoes, watermelon and other red fruits and vegetables, is another evidence-backed ingredient with targeted benefits for men—including those with BPH. Supplementation with 15 mg/d lycopene for six months in elderly men diagnosed with BPH decreased prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels and prevented prostate enlargement compared to placebo.3
In men, the sex hormone testosterone assists in regulating libido, bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and the production of red blood cells and sperm. As men age, they face a decline in testosterone levels, known as andropause.
Fenugreek extract may help. A proprietary extract of fenugreek standardized to a specific matrix and percentage of saponins, the active constituents responsible for fenugreek’s anabolic, androgenic and adaptogenic properties, (Testofen, from Gencor) has been shown to significantly increase testosterone levels, support libido and reduce symptoms of andropause.4,5
To read more information on these three ingredients—as well as seven additional options—click the following link to the full “Top 10 ingredients for men’s health” article in the “Natural men’s health solutions that shine a light” digital magazine.
Rachel Adams joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products INSIDER, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. Adams left Informa Markets in 2019.
1 Dotto J and Chacha J. “The potential of pumpkin seeds as a functional food ingredient: A review.” Sci Afr. 2020;10:e00575.
2 Leibbrand M et al. “Effects of an Oil-Free Hydroethanolic Pumpkin Seed Extract on Symptom Frequency and Severity in Men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Pilot Study in Humans.” J Med Food. 2019;22(6):551-559.
3 Schwarz S et al. “Lycopene inhibits disease progression in patients with benign prostate hyperplasia.” J Nutr. 2008;138(1):49-53.
4 Rao A et al. “Testofen, a specialised Trigonella foenum-graecum seed extract reduces age-related symptoms of androgen decrease, increases testosterone levels and improves sexual function in healthy aging males in a double-blind randomised clinical study.” Aging Male. 2016;19(2):134-142.
5 Steels E et al. “Physiological Aspects of Male Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation.” Phytother Res. 2011;25(9):1294-1300.