Three Effective Supplement Pairings for Men
Synergistic supplements can boost a natural health routine – and these supplement dream teams are extra effective in supporting men’s health.
Natural health supplements can offer valuable support to almost everyone’s health, but they’re not “one size fits all”.
Men – like women, children and the elderly – have unique nutritional needs, and there are certain facets of men’s health that can greatly benefit from supplemental support. Here are some supplement pairings that can help in protecting and enhancing men’s health.
Heart Health – Fish Oil and Garlic
Heart disease is currently the second leading cause of death in Canada, with men two times more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than women. Lifestyle factors such as physical activity, self-care [link to self-care for heart health article] and a healthy, nutrient-dense diet are all important for reducing the risk of heart disease, but there’s also a powerful nutritional combo that offers significant benefits.
The heart health benefits of fish oil have been widely researched, and anti-inflammatory actions of its omega-3s have been found to reduce high triglyceride levels in the blood. High triglyceride levels in the blood are associated with an increased risk for heart disease. It’s important to talk to your healthcare practitioner if you have any pre-existing conditions before taking fish oil or any other supplements.
Garlic is well known for its cholesterol-lowering benefits, which can complement the benefits of a fish oil supplement. One study found that when garlic and fish oil were supplemented together, there was a significant reduction in total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol – key risk indicators of heart disease.
How to Take it
Be sure to take both fish oil and garlic supplements with a substantial meal that contains healthy fats for better absorption and to reduce the likelihood of fishy or oily burps.
Mental Health – EPA/DHA (Omega-3) and Vitamin D
Many Canadians are affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. A 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey on Mental Health indicated that 5.4% of Canadians reported symptoms that met the criteria for a mood disorder, and it has been noted that many cases of depression among men go unreported.
EPA and DHA are the long-chain omega-3s from marine sources that have been associated with health benefits, and studies with higher supplemental EPA have shown positive results for mental health; in some cases substantially decreasing depressive symptoms.
Supplementation with vitamin D may also have mood benefits, (along with its many other health benefits). Vitamin D pairs well with an EPA/DHA-rich supplement for a variety of reasons, but for mental health, it was noted that the duo helped maintain healthy levels of serotonin, otherwise known as the “feel-good” hormone.
Note: Anyone experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety should get help from a healthcare practitioner and consult them before taking any natural health products.
How to Take it
When supplementing EPA/DHA and vitamin D, it’s more effective when you take them with food, as both are fat-soluble. If you or someone you know is experiencing any mental distress it’s important to reach out to a licensed health care practitioner.
Men’s Hormonal Health – Melatonin and Adaptogens
Due to the changing phases of men’s lives, there is plenty of awareness surrounding their hormones, but hormonal health is just as important for men. Stress and inadequate sleep – which often occur together – can both have negative impacts on men’s health hormonal function.
Stress itself is a hormonal physiological response, and pretty much inevitable in day-to-day life, whether at home or in the workplace. But repeated episodes of acute, or long-term chronic stress can impact hormonal balance.
Adaptogens, herbs that may improve an individual’s ability to cope with stress, have been shown to effectively support stress levels. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic ayurvedic herb with centuries of traditional therapeutic use. A research study has shown that supplementing with this herb may significantly reduce cortisol levels in the blood, as well as indicating a positive influence on testosterone levels among men having suboptimal testosterone levels before therapy.
Hormone levels may also be compromised by inadequate sleep, with researchers finding links between low testosterone, sleep apnea and reduced sexual function.
Testosterone levels change naturally throughout a 24-hour cycle, with levels rising during sleep, peaking during REM sleep – deep, restorative sleep cycles that occur throughout the night. Sleep disorders, including interrupted sleep and lack of sleep, reduces the amount of REM sleep which can lead to low testosterone levels.
Melatonin is a hormone made naturally in the body and released by the pineal gland in the brain, but healthy production can be interrupted by a variety of factors, such as stress and exposure to screens close to bedtime. Melatonin supplements have been found to be helpful in inducing and maintaining sleep to establish regular sleep habits, as well as support the sleep of those who have issues with insomnia or jet lag.
How to Take it
Set yourself up for success with a day/night hormonal health supplement routine! Set yourself a reminder to take melatonin before bedtime and have your daily doses of adaptogens prepared in the morning to take with you as needed throughout the day. No matter the format of the supplement, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on dosage.
Some simple supplement duos can make a major difference in men’s health with their synergistic benefits. Visit your local CHFA Member health food store for the best selection and guidance in choosing the right supplements for your health goals, and be sure to discuss any changes to your health regimen with your healthcare practitioner.
- Adler, AJ. (1997). Effect of garlic and fish-oil supplementation on serum lipid and lipoprotein concentrations in hyperchlesterolemic men. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Feb;65(2):445-50. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9022529
- Chandrasekhar K1, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul;34(3):255-62. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798
- Ganança L. (2017). Lipid correlates of antidepressant response to omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation: A pilot study. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2017 Apr;119:38-44. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28410668
- Health Canada Natural Health Products Ingredients database. Monograph: Fish Oil. Retrieved from: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=88&lang=eng
- Heart Disease in Canada (2017). Government of Canada – Public Health Agency of Canada. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/heart-disease-canada.html
- Iliades Chris, MD. Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH. (2013). Can Stress Affect Low Testosterone? Retrieved from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/mens-health/can-stress-affect-low-testosterone.aspx
- Kwak, JS. (2014). Garlic powder intake and cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Nutr Res Pract. 2014 Dec;8(6):644-54. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25489404
- Leproult, Rachel PhD, Van Cauter, Eve, PhD. (2011). Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. JAMA. 2011 Jun 1; 305(21): 2173–2174.Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445839/
- Liao, Lian-ying et. al. (2018). A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chin Med. 2018; 13: 57. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6240259/
- Liu, JJ. et al. (2013). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) status in major depressive disorder with comorbid anxiety disorders. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 Jul;74(7):732-8.Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23945451
- Martins, JG. (2009). EPA but not DHA appears to be responsible for the efficacy of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in depression: evidence from a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Oct;28(5):525-42. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20439549
- Men’s Mental Health. Canadian Mental Health Association. https://toronto.cmha.ca/mens-mental-health/
- Patrick, Rhonda P. (2015). Vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids control serotonin synthesis and action, part 2: relevance for ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and impulsive behavior. Faseb Journal, Vol. 29, No. 6, June 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.fasebj.org/doi/abs/10.1096/fj.14-268342
- Raman, Ryan MS, RD. (2017). How Melatonin Can Help You Sleep and Feel Better. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/melatonin-and-sleep
- Roeder, Amy. (2019). Omega-3 fish oil rises to top in analysis of studies. Harvard Gazette. Retrieved from: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/09/major-study-finds-omega-3-supplements-may-reduce-risk-of-heart-attack/
- Sepehrmanesh Z. (2016). Vitamin D Supplementation Affects the Beck Depression Inventory, Insulin Resistance, and Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial. J Nutr. 2016 Feb;146(2):243-8. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26609167
- Vijay R. Ambiye, et. al. (2013). Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 571420.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3863556/
- What is Depression? Public Health Agency of Canada. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/mental-illness/what-depression.html
- Wittert Gary. (2014). The relationship between sleep disorders and testosterone in men. Asian J Androl. 2014 Mar-Apr; 16(2): 262–265. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.n,lm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955336/