In the 16th century Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon searched for a spring of magical waters that could turn back the ravages of aging. That spring was called the Fountain of Youth.
It’s easy to understand why there have always been hopes that doing something as simple as bathing in magical waters would do away with old age. Even today, retail shelves are overflowing with products claiming to turn back the clock. Meanwhile, consumers are inundated on a daily basis with commercials for products that claim to erase wrinkles, smooth age lines and remove gray hair in minutes.
However, a youthful appearance is not necessarily synonymous with good health where it counts—on the inside. Think of the human body as an automobile. On one hand you have a car with a shiny, highly polished and pristine exterior. However, the motor has been neglected and runs rough, and some days the car won’t even start. On the other hand, you have a car that, while the exterior has a couple of blemishes and rough spots, the engine has been well cared for and is dependable and strong. Which car would you want?
More men are becoming educated about the role vitamins and supplements play in maintaining a strong engine, and how maintaining good health can lead to a better quality of life as they age.
Sixty-nine percent of U.S. adults take dietary supplements, according to a 2011 survey commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Washington, D.C. The survey indicates an upward trend in dietary supplement consumption, which is up from 66% in 2010, 65% in 2009 and 64% in 2008.
According to “The Muscle Trap: Supplement Use by Men” by Pamela Stuppy, MS, RD, LD, when examining the supplement buying habits of men, as compared to those of women, several differences surface. The study states that women tend to purchase more vitamin and mineral supplements while men lean toward supplements that support sports performance (e.g., build muscle, improve performance) and prostate health.
Buying habits among males change as they age, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Gunther S, Patterson RE, Kristal AR, et al. “Demographic and health-related correlates of herbal and specialty supplement use.” J Am Diet Assoc 104:27-34, 2004). The study found that the most common herbal and specialty supplement purchases by men aged 50 to 76 were glucosamine, chondroitin, saw palmetto, garlic pills and ginkgo biloba.
“Men are becoming more aware of the fact that if they don’t start taking better care of themselves then their quality of life will suffer,” said Scott Larkin, senior vice president, Marketing & Sales, Lycored, Orange, NJ, manufacturers of the tomato lycopene product, Lyc-O-Mato. “Better eating habits, supplementation and exercise are the paths leading away from the doctor.”
“The aging population does not want to slow down,” said Chase Hagerman, business development and marketing manager at Chemi Nutra in White Bear Lake, MN. “Many guys out there don’t want to be sidelined by physical ailments; they still have huge goals and aspirations. And younger men want to benefit from more energy as well.”
Chemi Nutra manufacturers phosphatidylserine (PS) and alpha-glyceryl phosphorylcholine (A-GPC). Mr. Hagerman said both ingredients target whole body health and both have been used extensively in several popular health categories.
In 2007, Chemi Nutra and Increnovo, Milwaukee, WI, began a collaboration involving discovery and investigation into phosphatidylserine’s ability to influence cortisol and testosterone levels in exercising and non-exercising men. As a result of these discoveries and subsequent patent filing, the two companies have formally announced their patent “Methods using phosphatidylserine, lysophosphatidylserine, and/or salts thereof to increase testosterone levels” (U.S. Patent No. 8,124,594). Specifically, the patent describes the oral use of PS to maintain healthy testosterone levels, targeted toward men experiencing age-related declines in testosterone and exercise induced declines in testosterone and/or hypogonadism.
Identifying health concerns at an early stage, and making appropriate changes in lifestyle is of prime importance, noted Dr. Anurag Pande, vice president of scientific affairs at Payson, UT-based Sabinsa, which offers a range of products, including saw palmetto, ashwagandha and mucuna.
“The male health focused programs that were lacking in earlier times have also made this change possible,” Dr. Pande said, noting that today more men are aware of prostate health than ever before as an example. “Proper healthcare systems and health consciousness, as well as the availability of male health-specific products, are part of this trend.”
Solving the Energy Crisis
Daily demands have created a perfect storm of health issues for men, not the least of which is a profound lack of energy. “Energy products are off the rails, especially drinks,” said Lycored’s Mr. Larkin. “Men are under pressure to work longer and harder to makes ends meet in this tough economy. So caffeine and herb-related products are moving very well.
“Cardiovascular health products and hypertension products are also growing, while weight control and diet products are always running with newer, better and improved formulas,” Mr. Larkin added. “Joint health is still solid, as ingredients are being added to the traditional glucosamine/chondroitin products.”
Also popular among men are products for prostate support and sexual performance. In fact, infertility is more common than most people would imagine, according to Kevin Owen, PhD, NAFTA head of technical marketing and scientific affairs for Lonza, Allendale, NJ. “Infertility affects about 15% of couples that are attempting their first pregnancy,” he said. “Men frequently have a problem with the number, motility or shape of their sperm, and it is estimated that 40% of human infertility is entirely or partly related to deficiencies in sperm quality.”
Mr. Owen went on to say that L-carnitine provides valuable support for the male reproductive system. “In sperm, the high concentration of L-carnitine plays a role in energy metabolism and most importantly, may support sperm quality. Several clinical studies have reported the benefits of oral L-carnitine supplementation and its effects on sperm. L-carnitine supplementation to infertile men was also found to increase sperm concentration, sperm count, percentage sperm motility and percentage sperm with rapid progression.”
Lonza produces Carnipure, a high quality L-carnitine ingredient. The proprietary and fully backward integrated Carnipure production process was invented by Lonza scientists in Switzerland. “This production process directly produces the L-isomer of Carnitine, the form found in nature,” Mr. Owen said. “This role Carnipure serves can be easily communicated: Carnipure turns fat into energy.”
A study published in the British Medical Journal concluded that good health during a man’s younger years was positively associated with higher sexual activity, a higher quality sex life, and interest in sex in middle age and later life.
In fact, men at age 55 who reported very good or excellent health on average gained five to seven years of sexually active life compared with their peers in poorer health, according to the study. As men realize the connection between good health and an extended sex life, they might be more inclined to follow a healthier lifestyle.
“Recent trends in men’s health include how to best address andropause (age-related drop in androgenic hormones, including testosterone) and senescence (aging, and especially loss of muscle and bone mass),” noted Chemi Nutra’s Mr. Hagerman.
While maintaining prostate and sexual health is a dominant trend among aging males, it is not the only trend, according to Sabinsa’s Dr. Pande.
“Men’s health products are not limited to mere sexual health conditions today,” Dr. Pande said. “In fact, men’s health product companies are reaching out to the consumer with the aim of improving the overall quality of life with advancing age and providing them the extra health support they need.”
One area where there may be a lack of products with scientifically proven claims is products to counter male baldness, said Sabinsa’s Dr. Pande. “Male baldness is a problem associated with declining levels of testosterone,” he explained.
Dihydrotestosterone is made from testosterone by 5 alpha reductase enzyme, which is associated with male pattern baldness and health risks such as prostate growth. Male pattern baldness is a problem that many men suffer from in the later part of their life. “The cosmetic appearance and its physiological effects cannot be ignored,” Dr. Pande added. “This is one condition that requires an effective product such as a potent 5 alpha reductase inhibitor.
A growing Baby Boomer population presents a tremendous amount of potential, according to Vincent Philip, marketing coordinator, Valensa International, Eustis, FL. “Baby Boomers, who are responsible for more than half of all consumer spending, buy 77% of all prescription drugs, and 61% of OTC medications,” he said, adding, “Further, more than one million new cases of BPH are reported in the U.S. and Europe each year. And this number will rise as the Baby Boomer population ages.”
The saw palmetto market has been growing in tandem with the aging male population for nearly 15 years in response to the rise in new cases of BPH, according to Mr. Philip. “Today, more than 70% of men age 50 and older exhibit symptoms of BPH,” he said. “And this number will grow substantially in the coming years, with studies showing that 90% of men in their 70s and 80s affected by BPH.”
“In the U.S., consumer saw palmetto sales are approximately $200 million,” Mr. Philip added. “Around the rest of the world, sales are roughly $500 million, for a total global market size of around $700 million.”
While nutraceutical companies have been very good at addressing the specific needs of men, a largely overlooked group is the “everyday man,” according to Chemi Nutra’s Mr. Hagerman. He pointed out that not every male out there (particularly younger men) needs nor wants to target those health categories. “In the same way multivitamins are the most popular supplement consumed by men and women alike, men could really benefit from taking one product that benefits them in many ways,” he said. “The ‘everyday’ man would benefit from a product that offers a holistic approach to their health.”
“This product would not only improve their lives in the bedroom, but in the boardroom and the gym too,” he added.