Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Weight management and muscle loss with age, cognitive function, energy levels, immune support, prostate and urinary health are all examples of health issues men may face over time. Performance—for sports and otherwise—has also been an area of focus.
According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s (CRN) 2017 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, 42% of men who take dietary supplements said their top reason was for overall health and wellness benefits, 33% for energy, 26% to fill nutrient gaps, 26% for immune health, and 26% for heart health.
Men have grown to be more health-minded in recent years, according to Jim Komorowski, chief science officer, Nutrition 21, LLC, Purchase, NY. “Across all ages and generations, men are motivated to buy nutritional products and dietary supplements to manage or prevent various health conditions, either current or future, and to maintain their normal activities as they get older.”
Men experience varied challenges when it comes to managing their day-to-day health, said Shaheen Majeed, worldwide president, Sabinsa, East Windsor, NJ. “Men of all age groups sometimes struggle to keep both their mental and physical energy level high all day long, and many want something natural that helps them be energetic as well as mentally alert throughout the day. But, at the same time, they do not want to rely on something that is over-stimulating or addictive. This mindset has led them to explore the world of dietary supplements that may fulfill those requirements.”
Younger generations view attending to their health as a way of life, and supplements are part of their daily regimen, he added. “They are also accustomed to looking up information, usually on their smart phones, as they make purchasing decisions. This presents an excellent opportunity for manufacturers that source branded ingredients backed by published studies, so potential customers can find that research while evaluating which products to buy.”
Sébastien Bornet, vice president of global sales & marketing at Horphag Research, agreed that consumers are doing more analysis of products at the point of purchase, “and they are becoming more interested in products and ingredients that are backed by science to support their benefits for a range of health concerns.”
Market data shows men are most interested in dietary supplements to maximize their workouts, for sports performance, and to support healthy aging, energy, and heart health, he added. “There is a high incidence of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke among men, and they seek supplements as a preventive measure to avoid these health complications. In addition, while aging, men want to maintain good overall physical and mental performance.”
Primarily, men are looking for dietary supplements to help them stay fit or regain a healthy physique, according to Mitch Skop, director of new product development, Pharmachem Laboratories, Inc., a division of Ashland, Kearny, NJ. “Health concerns beyond that are cardiovascular, and cholesterol. Through weight management and getting into shape, men feel they can support cardiovascular health and good blood sugar numbers. And they are correct. Eating a nutrient-dense diet that shelves processed and junk foods, exercising, and taking supplements can help restore health numbers such as weight, cholesterol profile, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Each of these are largely influenced by lifestyle and what men eat.”
While dietary supplements and functional foods can be beneficial, men need to adopt overall healthy, holistic lifestyle approaches that focus on mental, emotional, and physical wellness, said Golan Raz, head of the global health division at Lycored, Orange, NJ.
“The men’s health market seems to be stable and consistent. Prostate and urine function nutrition technologies and finished products are becoming a central part of the quality of life for elderly men. The growing body of scientific evidence clearly shows that with the consumption of the right natural ingredients some of the related symptoms can be managed and quality of life can be directly improved.”
Elyse Lovett, marketing manager, Kyowa Hakko, New York, NY, said men have many motivations when it comes to their health and wellness. “There are very broad-based men’s health products, like multivitamins and sports nutrition products geared specifically to what a man needs. Then there are the more specialty supplements. Two areas I think are growing for men’s health are in the brain health space and the benefits of nitric oxide.”
Generally, more men have become concerned with what they’re putting into their bodies, said Marianne McDonagh vice president of sales, Bioenergy Life Science, Inc., Minneapolis, MN, so they are looking for all-natural specialty ingredients in their products. “Men are concerned with sports nutrition, weight management, cardiovascular health, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, overall health, and aging.”
Traditionally, the men’s health category has focused on reproductive health, but in recent years the market has evolved to accommodate other concerns, said Sabinsa’s Mr. Majeed. “Primarily, men’s health issues may be divided into three categories: performance, appearance, and overall wellness. When it comes to performance, men—mostly the 20-30 age group—want to keep their energy and stamina levels high to perform better in sports or to meet daily activity needs. This group may try out protein and energy supplements. Middle-age adults want to maintain their appearance; hence they may opt for weight management products. Similarly, older individuals may want to supplement themselves with products to stay healthy and independent. This group is more likely to be interested in products that can support heart, joint, and cognitive health.”
Some of the top health issues that men are trying to manage and prevent include those that impact cardiovascular health, weight management and muscle loss, cognitive function, and energy levels, said Nutrition 21’s Mr. Komorowski. “Two critical factors for men to manage in the risk of cardiovascular disease are high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These two risk factors also lend themselves to another complicated issue for men: weight management. Recent research shows that almost three out of every four men are overweight, with one out of the three being obese.”
Men need to be cognizant of their weight as metabolism slows down with age, making workouts less impactful and meals a little more difficult to process, he continued. “For men that have a family history of diabetes, or are pre-diabetic, they need to also find a way to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.”
Additionally, research has documented that starting at age 30, men begin to lose muscle mass by 1% each year, he said. “A study published in Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons Journal demonstrated that maximum physical muscle capacity occurs between the ages of 20 and 30, with accelerated muscle mass loss occurring after the age of 40, he said.”
Urinary health is particularly relevant for men as they age, noted Dan Souza, vice president of sales and marketing, DBS Division of Naturex Inc., South Hackensack, NJ. “As men age, many start to experience Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) associated with Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH), which leads to deteriorating urinary conditions and a reduced quality of life. Over 50% of men in their 50s and 80% of men in their 70s suffer from BPH, so it’s definitely a top concern.”
Cardiovascular issues are also of major concern, he said. “It’s something that men need to start thinking about early on, as prevention is really key here. There are a lot of things you can do to reduce cardiovascular risk factors, and dietary supplements can play an important role.”
Lycored’s Mr. Raz agreed that urinary function is crucial to quality of life for many men. “Another related condition has to with sleeping disorders. We can see that when it comes to the human body (not only to men). And as much as we choose to look at the different categories, at the end of the day it is a holistic system in which one cause effects the other, and symptoms are closely related.”
Prostate, sexual health, urine function, and sleep quality are all one matrix of the same phenomena, he added, “and therefore can be looked at together; and in some cases, with the right approach, can also be positively managed together.”
More men are also focused on skin care, Mr. Raz noted. “Our research shows this applies to ingestible products just as much as topical. Our team surveyed 480 consumers in the U.K. and France, exploring their attitudes toward skin care, health, and appearance. One of the key findings was that men were significantly more open to the concept of ingestible skin care than women. Three quarters (74%) of the men we surveyed said the idea of taking a supplement for skin health or beauty was normal, compared to 58% of women.”
One possible explanation could be that men are less willing than women to spend time applying topical products, he opined. “Thirty-seven percent of the men surveyed said they want to spend less time on their skin care regimens, compared to 28% of women. The potential of the male beauty-from-within market is huge.”
Even with an evolution of health needs, enhancing/performance supplements are top of mind, said Kyowa’s Ms. Lovett. “Performance on the enhancing and sports side could go hand-in-hand to make a great product for men’s health. Cognitive health is another great area in the men’s health arena; getting an edge on focus, attention, mental energy, and age-related memory loss is really something generation X males (and females) are starting to notice.”
Mr. Komorowski also said cognitive health and stress are important health concerns. “Many men are now looking for ways to manage and prevent mental health issues. Research shows that as many as 40% of men identify stress as a top health concern for themselves, while many other men do not understand the extent of negative effects stress can have on their overall well-being. Chronic stress can result in weight gain and cause sleep issues, which becomes a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape.”
When comparing supplements, men consider several factors. “One of the chief concerns has become traceability,” said Mr. Souza, of Naturex, “knowing that what’s on the label is also in the bottle. Adulteration has become a serious issue, so it’s something consumers have in mind when making buying decisions. Naturex has instituted an ‘ID pack,’ a comprehensive report that helps customers track our ingredients from field to finished product.”
Efficacy and health claims are also important, he added. “While supplements that are ‘intuitively’ healthy may convince some consumers, many male consumers want hard evidence that products will do what they say.”
Pharmachem’s Mr. Skop stressed that products need to contain the amounts of ingredients shown in studies to provide the desired effect. “And this is easily confirmed (or not) online. Men are skeptical about the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach, with the sole exception of multivitamin/mineral formulas. Keep the target supplements—such as weight control—lean.”
Each brand needs to create and sustain a persona that resonates with its target market, he added. “This is where market and psychographic research is very helpful. Men don’t care to be romanced via aspirational marketing; they tend to want to know how it works and what they can expect. In other words, ‘keep it real.’ Before-and-after marketing tends to pull men in to buy your supplement; just look at the NutriSystem for Men and similar commercials.”
Above all, consumers want to know a product will work for their particular need, “and the best proof of that is double-blind, placebo-controlled studies documenting the product’s effectiveness,” said Mr. Skop.
Brands should focus on conveying research-based information to customers in order to demonstrate that products will work, said Mr. Majeed. Clean label claims are also resonating with consumers.
Mr. Komorowski agreed that men are looking for clinically researched and naturally-sourced products. “Increasingly, there is a desire for holistic, organic, natural, plant-based, and whole food-based products. Surprisingly, this is the case not only with millennials but with baby boomers as well.”
Ms. McDonagh of Bioenergy also said men want “safe, effective, and scientifically proven” products that are all-natural. “Men are becoming much more interested in what they’re putting into their bodies, so the supplement facts of these products are looked at versus packaging or a cool product name.”
For product developers and brand owners, there are many proven ingredients that can help men meet their health needs.
Heart Health & Weight. Sabinsa’s Mr. Majeed said the company’s Sabeet is a standardized beetroot extract shown to provide vascular health support, energy support, and increased endurance. “In a recently published clinical study, (International Journal of Innovative Research in Medical Science, 2016) Sabeet was found to improve cardiovascular performance in healthy men and thus can be beneficial in enhancing exercise performance due to its protective role against muscle damage.”
When it comes to heart health and weight management, the first-line approach should be lifestyle and dietary changes, said Mr. Komorowski. “Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids can also help keep blood pressure and triglyceride levels low. In fact, research shows that men with higher levels of omega-3s tend to have lower rates of heart disease. Factors such as obesity and stress can increase cardiovascular issues, and regular exercise and a healthy diet can help with maintenance of these factors.”
Clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of Naturex’s Aronia extract, Aronox, to reduce cardiovascular risk markers, according to Mr. Souza. “Beta-glucans, like those found in the company’s SWEOAT Brans, are also a great option for heart health and come with the additional benefit of providing specific claims for heart health.”
Mr. Bornet said Horphag Research’s proprietary ingredient Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract, is shown to support circulation, heart health, and healthy aging. “Pycnogenol is supported by a vast catalog of clinical research for its health benefits, including a 2015 study that found daily supplementation with Pycnogenol can improve endothelial function in patients with borderline hyperglycemia, hypertension or hyperlipidemia after 12 weeks (Journal of International Angiology).”
Research published in Phytotherapy Research in 2013 found that Pycnogenol reduces metabolic syndrome risk factors, including waistline obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. Studies have also shown Pycnogenol to naturally reduce cardiovascular risk factors in diabetic individuals, like blood sugar levels, LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure.
According to Mr. Skop, Phase 2 Carb Controller, a proprietary kidney bean extract, is the first clinically studied carb blocker shown to delay the digestion and absorption of starch calories, and the slimming results of this activity. “Phase 2 Carb Controller works by temporarily inhibiting salivary and pancreatic release of alpha-amylase. Carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion in the small intestine are delivered to the large intestine where they act more like dietary ﬁber—feeding the microbiome and upregulating GLP-1, which regulates satiety signaling.”
In the largest human study conducted on Phase 2 Carb Controller (Obestity, 2013), those who consumed the supplement lost an average of seven pounds more than those on placebo after 12 weeks. In addition, 73.5% of 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 frequency and intensity 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.
Additionally, a meta-analysis published in Nutrition Journal in 2011 concluded that Phase 2 Carb Controller has the potential to induce weight loss and reduce spikes in blood sugar caused by carbohydrates. The meta-analysis concluded that 500 to 3,000 mg daily of Phase 2 Carb Controller may induce weight loss. It also may reduce the post-prandial spike in blood glucose levels.
Blood Sugar. Men at risk for diabetes who may need to maintain healthy insulin levels should consider taking a chromium supplement due to its positive effects on body composition and weight management, said Mr. Komorowski. “Chromium picolinate is an essential trace mineral that has been shown to have a positive effect on the actions of insulin within the blood, which contributes to the body’s ability to adequately manage blood sugar levels. Chromium picolinate is commonly regarded as an effective ingredient for helping to control sugar and carbohydrate cravings, fight body fat, and assist weight management. With blood sugar levels in check, managing weight and appetite is made simpler.”
Nutrition 21’s patented Chromax chromium picolinate is supported by 35 human clinical studies that have shown the ingredient is effective in supporting daily nutritional needs as they relate to heart and lipid health, appetite control and weight management, glucose metabolism, and insulin resistance, said Mr. Komorowski. Chromax has also been shown to help with lean body mass maintenance, which is important for men looking to maintain a healthy weight and maintain strength.
“Chromax is different from other forms of chromium on the market because of its superior absorption and stable chemical structure,” he said. “Furthermore, Chromax has been affirmed as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use in food and beverage products and is easy to use in formulations, and is also Prop 65 compliant through an independent verification.”
Pharmachem’s Prenulin is a patent-pending proprietary blend of L-arabinose and chromium picolinate. The modulating effects of L-arabinose and chromium picolinate on glycemic response has been researched and supported by multiple clinical studies with signiﬁcant results, said Mr. Skop.
Performance & Energy. For men looking to increase their muscle size and strength, or to prevent loss of muscle, protein consumption is an important consideration. “Although there are various forms of protein on the market, including whey protein, vegetable alternatives, and BCAAs, there is an innovative ingredient that can help men achieve their muscle-related goals in a more accelerated fashion,” said Mr. Komorowski. “Velositol is a revolutionary nutritional ingredient that enhances the power of protein and BCAAs, accelerating and boosting muscle protein synthesis (MPS), a key to muscle growth.”
Velositol is a unique dietary complex of amylopectin and chromium that amplifies MPS compared to whey protein alone, he added. “The proposed mechanism of action is that when added to protein, Velositol’s novel complex rapidly stimulates insulin release and increases the muscle cell’s insulin sensitivity. This helps to safely increase insulin levels and enhance the body’s amino acid uptake, stimulating and boosting MPS. Velositol has received GRAS status at the recommended serving of 2 grams per day in protein drinks (including ready-to-drink and powder), meal replacement bars, energy and protein bars, with the consideration that these products can be taken up to three times a day.”
In addition to Pycnogenol, Horphag Research offers Robuvit French oak wood extract, a vitality ingredient that acts as a natural, caffeine-free option for energy, said Mr. Bornet. “It is made up of roburins and other flavonoids that are unique to oak wood and enhance basic cellular function to increase energy and reduce fatigue. A 2015 study examined these energizing benefits and found that daily supplementation with Robuvit reduced general fatigue symptoms like exhaustion, headaches, and loss of memory. This builds upon previous research discussing the benefits of Robuvit for individuals suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Another study published in 2016 showed Robuvit speeds up recovery time, boosts endurance and increases training efficiency. Robuvit has been suggested in clinical trials to increase generation of ribosomes, cellular machinery assembling proteins, such as muscle fibers in training athletes. Correspondingly, athletes may adapt more rapidly to training with muscle built. Most recent research finds that metabolites (urolithins), developing after supplementation with Robuvit in humans, improves mitochondrial and muscle function.”
Kyowa Hakko manufactures Setria Performance Blend, the combination of glutathione and citrulline. “Studies have shown that Setria Performance Blend may help sustain NO levels, which could lead to reduced fatigue and speed recovery,” said Ms. Lovett.
Specialty ingredients that are all-natural and proven effective by clinical research will continue to get attention in the marketplace, according to Ms. McDonagh. “These types of ingredients are backed by true science and biochemistry and therefore deliver results. Men should look for products that contain Bioenergy Ribose if they want to achieve their goals.”
Sabinsa’s Ashwagandha extract is obtained from Withania somnifera standardized to contain 7% Withanolides, 1% Alkaloids, and 0.25% Withaferin A. “It is reported to help rejuvenate the body at the cellular level and help increase stamina and endurance. Ashwagandha is high on the list of recognized ‘natural adaptogens,’ and has been evaluated for its ability to help the body adapt to stress. It helps rejuvenate the body and reduces stress. It has been used as a general tonic to increase energy, improve overall health and longevity, and to support immune function, particularly in athletes and the elderly.”
The company also offers Tribulus terrestris extract, which is traditionally known as a potent aphrodisiac and is used in treating male infertility. The extract improves physical work capacity and endurance, according to Mr. Majeed. Saponins enhance hormonal actions and testosterone production. “Since the higher levels of testosterone are linked with increased muscle mass and energy levels, Tribulus is known to be a natural testosterone booster.”
Urinary & Prostate Health. Natural options for urinary issues have been fairly limited until recently, said Mr. Souza. “Traditionally, many men looked to saw palmetto, but its efficacy has since been called into question. Naturex offers a cranberry ingredient that’s clinically shown to improve LUTS in men. Flowens is a full spectrum cranberry powder designed and optimized for men’s health. The unique and proprietary formula is well tolerated and has been clinically shown to improve quality of life and uroflowmetry markers when taken daily. In fact, the science is so strong that Flowens has been awarded seven health claims.”
Lycored’s Mr. Raz noted potential in combining lycopene from tomatoes with curcumin. “Quality pre-clinical scientific research discovered that these two ingredients when combined together at a specific ratio become very potent due to high synergistic reaction. The study that was done specifically on prostate cells is showing us how important it is to invest in the discovery phase when developing a new product. We should always remember that the only way to really know how different ingredients are working together is to test the formulation using the relevant systems.”
Sabinsa’s saw palmetto extract from the dried berries of Serenoa repens contains a minimum of 85% fatty acids, according to Mr. Majeed. “It plays a significant role in the regulation of dihydrotestosterone due to its ability to inhibit 5-alpha-reductase activity. It is frequently used in combination with pumpkin seed extract to support prostate health in men.”
Sabinsa’s pumpkin seed SCFE from the seeds of Cucurbita pepo is standardized for 85% free fatty acids. “It has been reported that administration of pumpkin seed oil was effective in reducing symptoms associated with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and was found to be safe.”
Brain Health. Kyowa Hakko manufactures Cognizin, the branded form of citicoline, a brain health nutrient clinically studied to support focus, attention, and mental energy. “It’s a great product to include in a men’s health formulation for that extra mental edge.”
Sabinsa’s Mucuna extract from the dried seeds of Mucuna pruriens is standardized to contain a minimum of 15% L-DOPA. A precursor of dopamine, L-DOPA plays an important role in maintaining cognitive health, said Mr. Majeed. “Studies have shown the extract produces a significant antioxidant effect against stress-induced oxidative damage and also has a beneficial effect on learning skills. It has also been found to elevate levels of testosterone in men.”
Increasingly, there are more and more supplement options available for management of energy levels, increased mental focus, and heightened cognitive function, said Mr. Komorowski. “For example, nootropic-based supplements have been on the rise. Nootropics are ingredients geared toward improving focus, mental acuity, and energy. Consumers who are looking for products with a nootropic effect are becoming more and more interested in products that can ‘naturally’ boost energy and focus, without the caffeine, jitters, or crash.
Nutrition 21’s dietary ingredient, Nitrosigine can provide a nootropic boost, he added. Nitrosigine is a novel complex of arginine and silicon, stabilized with inositol. “Clinical studies show that Nitrosigine has a significant effect on cognitive acuity, including processing speed and executive functioning. Nitrosigine is also well known for its nitric oxide boosting abilities. Because of its ability to enhance blood flow, it can also improve the body’s ability to transport blood, nutrients, and glucose to the brain, and in turn, enhance cognitive function.”