Of the male dietary supplement users consulted for the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s 2015 CRN Consumer Survey On Dietary Supplements, 44% said they take supplements for overall health, 30% said they take them for energy, and 28% for both immunity and heart health.
“While health concerns such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer are high up on the list of causes of morbidity for men, key health areas for dietary supplements positioned for men focus on brain health (i.e., stress reduction and mental focus), sexual health and active lifestyle/sports/energy often combined with muscle growth benefits,” observed Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation for the Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights. “Many ‘general health’ supplement products are also being specifically formulated for men and claim to have many wide ranging health benefits (e.g., multivitamins, supplements containing omega-3s, and so forth).”
Men’s health relates to many different facets of wellness, according to Ron Antriasian, vice president of sales and business development, Life Extension, Fort Lauderdale, FL. “Men’s health concerns include everything from ensuring optimal cardiovascular health, to ensuring the proper balance of testosterone and estrogen in the system, to ensuring prostate and sexual health, to immune health, and to healthy bone and joint management.”
To help address the wide range of health issues that are most important to male consumers, the dietary supplement industry has responded with clinically researched, naturally-sourced formulas to support men at various stages of life.
Insight from FutureCeuticals, Inc., Momence, IL, suggested an increased demand for whole-food supplements within the men’s health segment. Director of Marketing Andrew Wheeler commented, “Millennials and Boomers alike are looking to tried-and-true whole-food solutions to supplement their diets.”
Cardiovascular health is a major issue for men, especially in the large, aging Baby Boomer demographic. While universal health issues such as aging, obesity and stress all contribute to heart disease, research suggests men are particularly at risk as a result of their hormonal makeup.
A recent study published in Scientific Reports found that testosterone could be a main culprit behind why men are more at risk than women for heart disease. A study funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) examined the effects of testosterone on blood vessel tissue from mice, and found that the hormone triggers cells from the blood vessels to produce calcium deposits. When researchers removed the testosterone receptors from the mouse cells, the calcification was reduced.
The team also examined blood vessel and valve tissues from people with heart disease that had undergone surgery and found that the cells from these tissues also had calcium deposits and had testosterone receptors on their surface. The researchers concluded that testosterone may trigger calcification, though more research is needed to see what impact these findings could mean for people with heart disease or taking androgen replacement therapy.
As more men become aware of the risks associated with heart disease, many are turning to nutraceuticals for support and prevention. “Men are looking for ways to reduce their risk of heart disease and they are not looking for a magic bullet,” stated Mr. Wheeler of FutureCeuticals. “They understand that this is at first a lifestyle and diet proposition when it comes to long-term prevention.”
With this preventive approach in mind, he said consumers are utilizing nutrient-dense foods such as FutureCeuticals’ Nutrim—a 100% natural oat beta-glucan ingredient developed and patented by the USDA—for support with cholesterol reduction.
A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics examined 38 overweight men with high cholesterol who were placed on an American Heart Association Step II Diet with either 6 grams of fiber from wheat bread or 6 grams of beta-glucan from Nutrim baked into bread. Additionally, subjects were asked to walk 60 minutes daily for exercise. After 8 weeks the men using Nutrim saw a significant improvement in lipid profile and body weight without any adverse effects.
FutureCeuticals also offers BarleyTrim, a barley powder that was found to improve glucose and insulin response in men who were mildly insulin-resistant in a clinical trial conducted by USDA.
“The widely-documented impact of beta-glucans on cholesterol reduction allows the USDA heart-health claim to be used with proper inclusion of these two materials,” explained Mr. Wheeler. “In addition, TRIM [a patented process licensed exclusively to FutureCeuticals by the USDA] beverage-ready grains can be a component of effective blood sugar management, and also provide a smooth, creamy texture unlike any other grain material.”
Lycored, Orange, NJ, developed a unique cardiovascular health formula, comprised of a proprietary phytosterol complex and the company’s patented standardized tomato extract.
Golan Raz, vice president of health and nutrition at Lycored, noted, “Cardiomato was tested in five clinical trials and was found to be effective in maintaining balanced blood pressure, oxidative stress, endothelial function (blood circulation) and post meal oxidized cholesterol levels, all within a normal range. This unique and patented technology has a specific ratio of phytosterols and lycopene, which are found to be synergistic and beneficial.”
Mental Health & Cognition
Research from London-based Mintel suggests that stress is the top health concern among men, for either themselves or someone close to them, with 40% saying it was a concern. However, the research firm suggested men may not recognize the true negative impact stress can have on their overall well-being, and could benefit from further education as to how stress can contribute to other ailments such as heart problems.
“Chronic stress can not only cause some weight gain through higher circulating cortisol levels, but robs men of sleep,” noted Mitch Skop, senior director of new product development, Pharmachem Laboratories Inc., Kearny, NJ. “And of course, stress in men is often implicated to cardiac events.”
Pharmachem’s Lactium, a patented hydrolysate of milk proteins, contains a bioactive peptide with relaxing properties that regulate stress naturally, according to the company.
“In a new study published in the Journal of International Medical Research, Target 1—a formula featuring Lactium (milk casein)—helped significantly decrease symptoms of burnout,” Mr. Skop explained. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial looked at the formula’s effect on participants with burnout syndrome, and reviewed the subjects’ symptoms using different evaluation instruments over a 12-week study period. “In the placebo group, 14 participants still presented with a high level of burnout at the end of the trial compared with 26 on the first day, whereas in the supplement group, only two participants had a high level of burnout at the end of the trial compared with 33 on the first day. Study participants came from a wide range of professional backgrounds across several economic sectors.”
An additional study examining Lactium was conducted on 44 healthy men and women who experienced difficulty sleeping. The subjects were given 150 mg of Lactium per day for four weeks, with results showing that Lactium improved sleep duration and efficiency, especially in subjects with a moderate anxiety or depression profile.
FutureCeuticals is tackling the overall issue of cognitive function with its ingredient NeuroFactor, a patented extract of the whole coffee cherry, which has been shown in clinical studies to support increased levels of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) in humans. Mr. Wheeler explained, “BDNF is increasingly being considered the key neuroprotein involved with essential cognitive functions and overall brain health, and as demonstrated by clinical science, BDNF levels decline as we age. NeuroFactor supplementation can support higher levels of BDNF, and as a result help keep brain health at an optimum level.”
Mr. Wheeler also noted the benefits or NeuroFactor in helping athletes enhance their mind for an added competitive edge. “The largest segment of growth for the cognitive space is found in the sports nutrition area,” he observed. “There is increasing clinical science suggesting that BDNF, which is elevated by strenuous exercise, is also associated with the mental side of hitting the performance wall. As much as performance athletes are in tune with the physical side of sport, they are increasingly looking for the mental edge as well.”
Energy & Active Nutrition
Men have long been patrons of the large and growing sports nutrition category, with specific formulas designed to support muscle growth, workout recovery and endurance.
While muscle building remains a popular focus among the younger male demographic, Dr. John Deaton, vice president of science and technology, Deerland Enzymes, Kennesaw, GA, pointed to a growing trend around the area of muscle health, providing both improvements in muscle tone and the maintenance of muscle with age. “Protein supplements, particularly whey, are well known for their role in both building and repairing muscle,” he noted. “From casual fitness enthusiasts to extreme athletes, more men are consuming whey protein supplements than ever before, and enzymes for protein hydrolysis are an ideal complement to these types of protein supplements.”
Dr. Deaton explained that because of the large size of protein molecules, some individuals have difficulty breaking down the whey protein contained in supplements. “Incomplete protein breakdown can create digestive discomfort and can limit the absorption of amino acids from the protein supplements,” he said. “This creates a demand for products that support protein hydrolysis.”
To address issues associated with the consumption of high protein amounts, Deerland Enzymes developed a protein hydrolysis product ProHydrolase, which is backed by two human clinical studies. “ProHydrolase has been shown to break down protein into smaller peptides in order for it to be used by the body for muscle recovery as intended, and also reduce potential for digestive discomfort,” explained Dr. Deaton. “This advanced enzyme blend has shown a superior ability to break down whey, both in the lab and clinical study.” He added that ProHydrolase is also effective with other types of protein, such as soy, casein, hemp and pea.
Penny Portner, director of marketing for Bioenergy Life Science, Inc., Minneapolis, MN, described the company’s Bioenergy Ribose as “the only patented, branded, scientifically proven form of ribose on the market suitable for everyone, but specifically men due to its unique ability to provide energy at the cellular level.” Bioenergy Ribose is a five-carbon carbohydrate that serves as the backbone of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the source for all cellular energy. Ribose supports the process that replenishes stores of ATP naturally found in the body, as well as other components in these cells.
“In today’s society, men are busier than ever and they need something to help them keep up and make it through their busy days,” explained Ms. Portner. “And they need something that is not a stimulant, but rather something that will last and help keep them going all day.” Clinical studies examining supplementation with Bioenergy Ribose have found it reduces fatigue in people suffering from energy depletion, in addition to improving endurance during strenuous exercise, shortening recovery time and reducing cramping and soreness, according to the company.
Another ingredient offering natural energy support is FutureCeutical’s Coffeeberry Energy, providing caffeine from an organic source. Mr. Wheeler suggested that as more men are moving away from synthetic caffeine, and “other unhealthy energy sources,” the company’s organic coffee caffeine from the whole coffee fruit found in Coffeeberry has emerged as a unique offering in the sports nutrition and energy arena. “Organic Coffeeberry energy was intentionally designed to utilize not only the natural coffee caffeine from the whole coffee fruit, but also the unique chlorogenic acids from the whole fruit,” he said. “These two moieties from the whole coffee cherry are a workout powerhouse like no other.”
More than 10 years of clinical data have found FutureCeuticals’ FruiteX-B, a nature-identical compound of calcium fructoborate, supports fast acting joint and flex relief, according to Mr. Wheeler. “In as little as seven days, FruiteX-B has been shown to lead to healthy inflammatory response, lower C-reactive protein, and is generally a take-it-feel-it solution for active adults,” he said. “Almost one billion daily doses of FruiteX-B have been consumed and active male adults comprise a significant portion of that consumer population.”
Additionally, the company offers a unique antioxidant ingredient, Spectra, a blend of fruit and vegetable powders and extracts that has been clinically shown to reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS) while naturally boosting nitric oxide levels. “Traditionally, antioxidant potential has been measured outside of the body and only provided a comparative assessment of oxidative stress potential,” said Mr. Wheeler. “Until now, no one has been able to provide acute, in vivo, quantitative changes in ROS following ingestion of an antioxidant-based product. Spectra is the first material to be observed in a clinical setting to reduce these markers in real-time in the human body, and at the same time, increase nitric oxide circulation in the blood. Also, supplementation with Spectra increased oxygen consumption in the mitochondria. This suggests that Spectra may provide improved circulation of well-oxygenated blood, and therefore more energy during exercise. Spectra provides real antioxidant action, not just potential.”
A newly introduced botanical extract from Xsto Solutions, Morristown, NJ, utilizes the power of the common cucumber (Cucumis sativus) to aid temporary muscle and joint pain from over-exercise. The branded ingredient Cuvitus works metabolically to reduce TNF alpha and other cytokines in the body, providing support for consumers pre- or post-workout. The clinically supported, gluten-free and non-GMO ingredient can be utilized in the sports nutrition and joint health categories.
Rembrandt Foods, Spirit Lake, IA, has developed egg protein powders designed to offer an alternative to traditional dairy proteins in the nutritional ingredient marketplace. Thomas Domoras, director of business development for the company, said, “It is well understood that the egg is the ultimate protein and its benefits for muscle support is well documented.”
Rembrandt offers RemPro 8000 and 8090, which were launched in the consumer market as powder mixes for sports nutrition. Mr. Domoras said the sports nutrition category is growing beyond the limits of the gym and hardcore bodybuilding, and that naturally sourced egg white protein powders offer a simple, recognizable option for anyone looking to boost their protein intake. “The powder mixes offer great flavor and higher protein content than whey fortification powders,” he noted. “In addition to the powder mixes, Rembrandt plans to enter the ready-to-drink and nutritional bars market to deliver egg proteins.” Looking forward, Rembrandt anticipates that consumers will be able to find finished products with egg albumen protein isolate on the label in coming months.
According to research from Mintel, almost three fourths of men are overweight, and among these men, one third are classified as obese. The higher the number on the scale, the less likely men are to exercise or eat a balanced diet. Mintel added that dads tend to have a higher BMI than men without kids, and could be prime targets for health-minded products.
Pharmachem’s Mr. Skop pointed to “that dreaded ‘middle-aged spread,’ that occurs in men, starting in their mid to late 30s,” as a cause of concern. “When men are young, they can, and often do, eat carb-laden (junk) foods, and can retain a decent physique. As they age, without changing diet, those pounds creep up, and they notice they are ‘filling out’ more,” he said. He suggested men can start gaining small increments of weight, such as one to two pounds per year, but eventually this will contribute to significant weight gain 10 years or so down the line.
To support consumers in making smart decisions to change their diets, Pharmachem developed Phase 2 Carb Controller, a natural carbohydrate absorption inhibitor. The proprietary white kidney bean extract is backed by more than a dozen clinical trials.
“In the most recent and largest human study conducted on Phase 2 Carb Controller to date [Obesity, 2013], those subjects taking a proprietary extract of the white bean, PhaseLite (Phase 2 Carb Controller) lost an average of seven pounds more than those on placebo after 12 weeks,” explained Mr. Skop. “In addition, 73.5% of the participants in the weight management phase successfully maintained their body weight after 24 weeks. After 12 weeks, the active arm in the weight-loss study experienced a statistically significant decrease in their desire as well as in their frequency and strength of food cravings for chocolates and other sweet foods, whereas the placebo group experienced a significant increase in the difficulty in resisting particular types of food.”
While the men’s health category has evolved to encompass a broader range of health indications in recent years, sexual health still plays a key role within the market. Whether men are looking for assistance with erectile dysfunction (ED), or promoting prostate or urinary tract health, nutraceutical solutions can offer significant support.
Dan Souza, category manager for France-based Naturex, pointed to the company’s Macador as an example of a useful natural ingredient to support sexual health in men. In fact, a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial examining healthy men aged 23-37 found that overall sexual desire increased from pre- to post-supplementation with the ingredient (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2009).
Describing the ingredient, Mr. Souza said, “Macador is a new maca extract that is natural, safe and scientifically proven to increase libido and sexual desire. It is the first maca extract standardized to amino acids and proline.”
Horphag Research, Geneva, Switzerland, produces and markets the finished product Prelox, utilizing its French maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol as a primary active ingredient. Horphag CEO Victor Ferrari said the product is a science driven, globally distributed formula. He added that Horphag is very selective in which companies they partner with on Prelox, as proper education to consumers is essential.
Prelox is a proprietary blend of L-arginine and Pycnogenol designed to improve erectile function by supporting healthy endothelial function. The daily supplement is intended to help dilate blood vessels and restore normal nitric oxide function.
“Numerous studies show that ED is a circulatory problem, unless it’s a psychological problem,” said Mr. Ferrari. “A lot of times it’s a barometer for overall health.” He added that as the male population impacted by diabetes continues to climb, products like Prelox could be useful, as their circulation is compromised.
Backed by five clinical trials on men (and three for women), the most recent study on Prelox published in BJU International (2010), was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 124 patients (aged 30-50 years) with moderate ED. After 6 months, researchers found that Prelox was effective in improving ED, and that this effect persisted with continuous therapy for up to 6 months. Moreover, the study concluded there is some evidence that ED continues to improve the longer Prelox is used.
Formulas designed to support prostate health are also popular in the men’s health supplement market. “A major concern for men is the health of their prostate, especially how to maintain a healthy prostate,” commented Don Stanek, director of U.S. sales for Linnea, Inc., Easton, PA.
Linnea offers the ingredient HMRlignan, which has been shown to increase circulating enterolactone levels leading to the inhibition of several prostate issues, according to Mr. Stanek. “An increased enterolactone level in men also protects the cardiovascular system and provides excellent antioxidant results,” he added.
He also suggested that lignans—essential chemical compounds found in plants—should be more frequently consumed through the diet, however, few people meet daily recommended values. “HMRlignan, because it contains hydroxymatairesinol, is an efficient way to consume lignans without the intestinal discomfort associated with flax.”
Life Extension offers Ultra Natural Prostate, containing scientifically substantiated nutrients to help protect the prostate gland and maintain its health function. The formula features standardized lignans from flax seed and Norway spruce knotwood, to provide support for prostate cells against excess estrogen levels; AprèsFlex, an extract of Boswellia, which supports normal inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase or 5-LOX, an enzyme that is associated with undesirable cell division changes; and nettle root extract, which helps support prostate cells against excess estrogen levels by mitigating the activity of the aromatase enzyme needed to create estrogens.
Ultra Natural Prostate also includes saw palmetto extract, which helps inhibit dihydrotestosterone (DHT) activity in the prostate, helps inhibit alpha-adrenergic receptor activity (to support normal urinary flow), and helps regulate inflammatory reactions in the prostate. Lastly, pygeum (Pygeum africanum) extract helps suppress prostaglandin production in the prostate and supports healthy urination patterns, while Graminex Flower Pollen Extract, a European pollen extract, helps relax the smooth muscles of the urethra and helps regulate inflammatory reactions.
Offering a nutritional formula supporting prostate health, Lycored introduced Lycopro, based on a combination of lycopene, curcumin and zinc. The company’s Mr. Raz explained, “Our research team tested these ingredients to find the most accurate ratio and to achieve what we call ‘the synergistic effect.’ This specific ratio allows us to use minimal dosage and get maximum effect, simply because of the way these three ingredients are working together in perfect harmony.”
As men age, Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) associated with Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) lead to deteriorating urinary conditions, according to Mr. Souza. “Over 50% of men in their 50s and 80% of men in their 70s suffer from BPH,” he said. “As a result, men are proactively seeking all-natural solutions to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.”
Naturex developed Flowens, a full spectrum cranberry powder purposely designed and optimized for men’s health. “Flowens was used in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in otherwise healthy men with LUTS,” explained Mr. Souza. “The formula is well tolerated and has been clinically shown to improve quality of life and all uroflowmetry markers [The New England Journal of Medicine, 2012; Reviews in Urology, 2003].”
As new research emerges and men become more tuned into how nutrition supports their various health objectives, new products featuring novel ingredients and unique delivery formats will emerge.
“Men are especially much more educated about what they’re putting in their bodies and want to make sure it is actually good for them,” stated Bioenergy’s Ms. Portner. “Research is an important tool for men before they look into buying nutritional supplements to ensure its benefits and effectiveness.”
Naturex’s Mr. Souza said that men, first and foremost, want products that work. “This underscores the importance of developing proven solutions with fast-acting, perceptible benefits. Doing so will turn ‘try it’ customers into customers for life.”
New delivery systems are also opening up consumers to the idea of supplement use, according to Mr. Skop of Pharmachem. “The idea of novel delivery systems is to further widen the number of consumers ingesting the formula or ingredient. There are many men who don’t like taking many pills; others prefer to do so.” To expand its audience, Pharmachem developed the concept brand DietSpice—packets combining Phase 2 with natural herbs and spices to sprinkle on or mix into starchy foods. The formula was designed for those who enjoy cooking as part of a healthy lifestyle, and as a way to support weight loss.
The company also offers Lactium in a convenient, organic honey drop. “Pharmachem worked with Hillside Candies (Hillside, NJ), to develop individually wrapped, organic honey hard-candies that deliver 150 mg of Lactium, a proprietary casein decapeptide, per piece. Lactium organic Honey Drops can be consumed any time during the day or night, without causing drowsiness,” said Mr. Skop.
Citing pill-fatigue as a real issue in the market, Mr. Antriasian with Life Extension, said the company offers products in a wide range of delivery formats, from easy-to-swallow enteric-coated softgels to capsules to powders and liquids. “Ultimately, the delivery method that ensures the most efficacy is the one that is chosen, and men appreciate the fact that only the safest and most mandatory of excipients are used in order to ensure maximum purity,” he stated.
In the last 2-3 years, Lycored noticed a surge in demand for gummy formats. In response, the company developed a unique matrix that protects heat sensitive nutritional actives during the specific production process that gummies require. Mr. Raz explained, “The heat and moisture are mainly effecting water-soluble vitamins like B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin C and others. We have found that when these sensitive vitamins are being encapsulated they can survive the extensive production process and maintain stability and potency. By doing that we help achieve a stable and effective product.”
Clean label formulations are also increasingly important to male consumers, across all delivery formats, according to Innova Market Insights’ Ms. Williams. “Supplements are being increasingly positioned on clean label platforms, with significant growth evident for product positionings associated with clean label, such as organic and natural,” she said. “For male consumers concerned about ingredients contained within supplements, supplements with such positionings would have great appeal.”
When it comes to delivery, she said capsules offer quick convenience, while the preparation required using powdered formats provides more consumer interaction, and perhaps a stronger connection to the health outcomes they are trying to achieve.
Looking ahead, Ms. Williams sees personalized formulas targeting conditions affecting hair, skin and nails, and prostate/urinary tract health as up-and-coming health indications within the men’s health space. “We are seeing more product specialization now in the men’s supplement market as I think men are more open to taking supplements to address specific health concerns they may have,” she concluded.