Expert Guide: The 10 Best Supplement’s for Men
Men are easily drawn to supplements that claim to “naturally increase testosterone and muscle mass by 500% in just five days!” Let’s be real: if anything actually increased testosterone or transformed your body that quickly, it wouldn’t be sold at the local supplement shop. You should always be skeptical of supplement claims that seem too good to be true (they usually are).
But it’s also not appropriate to write off all supplements as being entirely bogus. Quite the opposite, actually. There are plenty of important supplements for men to consider taking. In this guide, we’ll break down the science behind the top 10 supplements for men that want to support their health, performance, and longevity.
What Are the Best Supplements for Men?
Looking for a supplement to promote prostate health? How about sexual vitality and testosterone production? Maybe you just need an energy boost to get you through the day? Whatever the case is, we’ve curated a list of the essential supplements for men to add to their stash and where to find them. Let’s dive in!
Magnesium is an essential macromineral and multifarious element in nature. Being a cofactor (think: “helper molecule”) for numerous biological processes, magnesium plays a pivotal role in just about every bodily system, especially the nervous, endocrine, and muscular systems .
A recent four-week study of daily magnesium supplementation in sedentary men and active males showed significant increases in total and free testosterone levels . However, the active individuals experienced the greatest increases, reinforcing the importance of regular exercise for men’s health. Supplements can certainly help, but they won’t do all the work for you.
Magnesium is normally abundant in plant foods like leafy greens, nuts, and legumes, but the magnesium content of food sources is declining at an alarming rate (seemingly a corollary of modern agricultural practices) . As a ramification of that, there has been a population-level decline in the magnesium status of men and women over the last decade .
Thus, supplementing with a bioavailable form of organic magnesium, such as magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate, is prudent for men’s health. Avoid magnesium supplements with magnesium oxide — this form is poorly absorbed and won’t do much aside from draining your bank account .
Like magnesium, zinc is an essential mineral that regulates myriad vital functions, particularly in the immune system and reproductive organs. In the context of men’s health, zinc has been shown to support natural testosterone levels and sperm cell counts of active adult males [6, 7]. Therefore, zinc is ostensibly one of the best supplements to promote sexual health and fertility, specifically for men.
What makes zinc’s testosterone-boosting actions unique is that it interacts directly with Leydig cells in the testicles rather than modulating luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone (which derive from the brain). Additionally, zinc is suggested to support the conversion of the androgen precursor androstenedione to testosterone in the periphery . Zinc also inhibits the metabolism of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by blocking the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which in turn may benefit prostate health .
3. Fish Oil & Krill Oil (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
Fish oil supplements are a dime a dozen these days, and most people who take omega-3 fatty acids just buy the cheapest product they can find at the local supermarket or pharmacy. Frankly, you might as well flush that money down the toilet.
Countless fish oil supplements claim to provide a large dose of omega-3s per serving; but upon closer inspection, a scanty percentage of those omega-3 fatty acids are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) — the critical omega-3s for heart health, blood pressure support, and a range of other benefits .
While EPA and DHA are abundant in fatty freshwater fish, notably salmon and mackerel, there’s increasing concern about the risk of heavy metal toxicity when eating these foods regularly (due to environmental pollutants in large bodies of water) . Supplementing with fish oil or krill oil is a practical way to get more omega-3s in your diet while controlling your exposure to noxious chemicals like lead, mercury, and cadmium.
Vegans tend to consume ample ALA but not enough EPA and DHA. The body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA, though the extent of this conversion is trivial . Fortunately, there are vegan-friendly omega-3 supplements that provide plant-based EPA and DHA, typically from microalgae.
For heart health and longevity, men should consume a combined 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA per day, ideally in a 3:1 or 2:1 ratio, respectively.
4. Protein Powder
Putting in countless hours at the gym to pack on muscle mass will be an effort in futility if you’re not eating plenty of high-quality protein. Research suggests the protein needs of active adults, especially those who habitually lift weights, are markedly greater than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) — which is a mere 0.36 grams/pound body weight .
If you’re an active male trying to build muscle, aim for at least 0.7 – 0.8 grams protein/pound body weight on a daily basis . Some evidence even suggests that daily protein intakes as high as 1.4 grams/pound body weight are beneficial for athletes and bodybuilders that want to optimize body composition .
Now, for the hard part: actually meeting those numbers. Don’t worry if it sounds like a lot, protein powders make it much easier. Technically, protein powder is just food that’s been turned into a fine powder through the spray-drying process. Most of the protein powders on the market are made from dairy (e.g. whey protein and casein protein), but plant-based alternatives are rapidly growing in popularity.
For men’s health, whey, casein, and egg protein powder are arguably the best options since they provide an ideal ratio of essential amino acids (EAAs) to stimulate muscle growth and recovery [R]. However, a vegan protein powder made with complete plant proteins, like rice and pea protein, is certainly viable as well.
5. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is becoming one of the most popular supplements for men and women. This essential micronutrient is the storage form of vitamin D which the liver converts to active vitamin D (calcitriol) as needed.
Calcitriol plays a multitude of roles throughout the body, notably regulating bone health/density, steroid hormone production, and mood (if you’ve ever experienced the “winter blues,” you can partly blame low vitamin D levels). Sure enough, research has found that men with low vitamin D levels tend to have lower testosterone levels and vice versa .
The plight many of us face is being stuck inside all day behind a computer. The ultraviolet rays of the sun are Mother Nature’s way of activating pre-vitamin D3 found in the skin, subsequently converting it to vitamin D3. So, even if you take a vitamin D supplement, it’s wise to get outside and soak in some natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes per day.
6. B Vitamins
The B vitamins are collectively the most diverse group of essential vitamins. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) tends to get the most attention of the bunch, but they are all equally important.
B vitamins are precursors of various cofactors in the body, such as coenzyme A, thiamine pyrophosphate, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). Without these essential vitamins and their eventual cofactors, rudimentary biological functions — like converting glucose into cellular energy — wouldn’t occur at the rate necessary for survival.
Moreover, B vitamins may also serve directly as coenzymes in physiological processes, notably DNA synthesis, formation of red blood cells, and nutrient metabolism. In layman’s terms, B vitamins are like “assisting molecules” that permit your cells to harness the biological potential of macromolecules (e.g. carbohydrates and protein). Intuitively, this makes B vitamins integral for things like cardiovascular health, energy production, and cognitive function.
As with other vitamins and minerals, it’s imperative that you look for a supplement that provides bioavailable B vitamins. Here are some examples of the :
- Vitamin B1 (as Benfotiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (as Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (as Nicotinic Acid)
- Vitamin B5 (as Calcium D-Pantothenate)
- Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxal-5’-Phosphate)
- Vitamin B7 (as d-Biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (as L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate/Methylfolate)
- Vitamin B12 (as Methylcobalamin)
And remember, you should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re consuming ample vitamins and minerals. Don’t rely on multivitamin supplements to meet all of your micronutrient needs.
7. Creatine Monohydrate
The average 200-lb adult male stores approximately 150 g of creatine (as creatine and phosphocreatine) in tissues throughout the body, mostly skeletal muscle . Sedentary individuals exhaust between 1%-2% of the endogenous creatine pool per day; gym-goers and athletes, however, may go through as much as 5% of their creatine stores on a daily basis .
Getting enough creatine through whole foods to saturate and replenish muscle creatine stores is virtually impossible, so creatine monohydrate is a must-have supplement for men that engage in sports and exercise.
Probiotics are taking the supplement industry by storm, and for good reason. The human gut microbiome comprises an estimated 1,000 microbial species that support our health from the inside out (quite literally) .
Probiotic supplements contain living “friendly” bacteria (and sometimes yeast) that colonize the gastrointestinal tract after you ingest them. These beneficial microbes interact with human intestinal cells through several mechanisms — mainly via fermenting indigestible nutrients like fiber and lactose into short-chain fatty acids (e.g. butyric acid) .
Research has found that certain probiotic species, especially those belonging to Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria genera, can support endocrine signaling, immune function, urinary tract health, and even fat loss by altering gut microbiota composition [22, 23]. On the contrary, not-so-friendly microbes in the gut can increase oxidative stress, inflammation, and harm vital organs .
Ever wonder why some men swear by watermelon smoothies before getting “down to business in the bedroom”? Well, watermelon is a source of L-citrulline. In fact, citrullus is the Latin word for watermelon, from which this eponymous amino acid derives its name.
Contrary to proteinogenic amino acids, L-citrulline is not incorporated into body proteins. Instead, it’s an intermediate molecule of the urea cycle and a precursor to L-arginine, and therefore, nitric oxide (NO). As such, citrulline is a common ingredient in pre-workout powders.
Several recent studies show that L-citrulline is a promising supplement for men’s health due to its potent vasodilating actions . Essentially, L-citrulline helps support heart health, erectile function, and muscle pumps in the gym.
For athletic performance, take 3,000 to 6000 of L-citrulline about 20–30 minutes before your workouts. For overall men’s health, 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams per day will do the job.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a nightshade plant indigenous to African and Middle East regions. It is a primordial “adaptogenic herb” due to its versatile stress-relieving and calming properties.
The roots and leaves of ashwagandha contain a range of therapeutic compounds, such as alkaloids, saponins, and steroidal lactones (withanolides). Withaferin-A, the first known withanolide isolated from the roots of ashwagandha, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, anti-hypertensive, antioxidant, and immune-supporting properties in humans .
So, why is ashwagandha one of the best supplements for men? Several clinical studies suggest that this adaptogen can significantly boost testosterone and support fertility .
The mechanisms behind how the bioactive constituents of ashwagandha exert such versatile health benefits are quite complex on a molecular level. We’ll keep it simple: withanolides like withaferin-A work by modulating the activity of certain proteins and enzymes in cells in a manner that restores and establishes homeostasis. Hence, ashwagandha helps men “adapt” to stressors.
When buying an ashwagandha supplement, look for one that contains Sensoril® or KSM-66® Ashwagandha. These are the gold standard ashwagandha extracts that guarantee consistent withanolide potency.
Best Supplements for Men: Takeaway
Hopefully, our list of the 10 best supplements for men can guide you towards your health and fitness goals. As a necessary disclaimer of sorts, we should mention that supplements only work if you put in the effort to lead a healthy lifestyle. Sure, the right supplement can potentiate your results, but raising zero (effort) to any positive exponent is still zero.
Before you blow your next paycheck on the latest and greatest supplement for men, it behooves you to invest in nutritious food, a gym membership, and other healthy-living necessities. More often than not, men overlook the daily habits that detract from their goals; not getting enough sleep, being sedentary, eating tons of junk, and drinking copious amounts of alcohol will surely negate the benefits of any supplement.