Supplements for Men

By Scott Tindal


As Father's Day nears, we may reflect on the special moments and activities we shared with our dads when we were children. But if we're lucky, we're also looking forward to making new memories with Dad. If you're a father, you know how important it is to be able to keep up with your kids and stay healthy as long as possible. Nutrition has a big impact on how healthy you are. The foundation of your diet should be whole foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. This helps to ensure that your body is getting a variety of essential nutrients; however, if needed, supplements can help fill in the gaps.

You may already take your diet seriously, but do you know which supplements you might need? When you’re looking through aisles of options and millions of articles with conflicting advice, it’s tough to know which supplements actually benefit your health and which are a complete waste of money. Do your own research—and consult a doctor before starting a new supplement. Only the most well-researched, science-supported supplements should be considered. Do your best to comb through the faulty claims and trends and stick to the ones that we know can help, but never harm, your health.

Below you will find a list of supplements to promote general health and two that, when paired with regular physical activity, may help you achieve lean body mass and better body composition.



Supplements for Gut Health

Your gut may be the key to your general health, and there are actually a few supplements that can help it do its job better. In recent years, the link between the gut and the brain has been well established in what is known as the gut-brain axis (GBA). This indisputable connection might even help to explain the prevalence of diseases such as depression, Alzheimer’s, and dementia, all of which may be concerns for men as they age.


An imbalance of the gut microbiota, also known as dysbiosis, has been shown to be correlated to these conditions. The gut microbiota produces metabolites within the gut and the bloodstream. There is an optimal range for each metabolite within a functioning gut. In someone experiencing dysbiosis, you would find these metabolites either abnormally lowered or raised. Testing these metabolites via our Ixcela technology.


1. Prebiotics and Probiotics

Depending on your Ixcela test results, a prebiotic and probiotic supplement may be recommended for you.

  • A prebiotic is a indigestible food ingredient that promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines. Examples of prebiotic foods are garlic, onions, and some beans. For some people, these types of fibers can cause gut issues.
  • A probiotic is a live microorganism that, when consumed (as in a food or a dietary supplement), maintains or restores beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.
  • Look for the number of Colony Forming Units (CFUs) on probiotic supplements. The CFU should be 25–35 billion.
  • The total number of strains is also important. Each strain is specific to the condition(s) it affects and the action it takes. It is better to have as many strains, with evidence supporting their action, as possible. Ixcela Biome Support currently uses 17 strains that all have supporting research for their effectiveness.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to your health due to the correlation between the intake of omega-3s and reduced rates of cancer, heart disease, and all-cause mortality. (4)
  • World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that individuals obtain 1–2% of their energy intake from omega-3 fatty acids. (5)
  • For a 2,000-Kcal diet, WHO's recommendation translates to about 2–3 g per day of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. They are plentiful in fish and shellfish.
  • A high-quality omega-3 capsule will provide 700–900 mg EPA/DHA.
  • This means you need to take 3–4 capsules per day to meet your requirement.
  • Look on the back of the label for "per capsule" information.
  • Aim for 2–3 g DHA/EPA per day.

3. Vitamin D3

If you live in a sunny climate, you may not require this supplement. However, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, work indoors, or are of African-American descent, vitamin D3 is worth considering.

  • Vitamin D is predominantly produced by exposure of skin to the sun.
  • You can consume vitamin D through diet, although the levels in food are low and require fortification.
  • In winter months, even with sun exposure, the wavelength of the sun is not quite right for adequate vitamin D production.
  • Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin.
  • Inadequate D3 intake is linked to a number of health conditions including heart problems, reduced tendon integrity, diabetes, decreased bone health, cancer, and all-cause mortality. (6)
  • If you are found to be deficient in vitamin D, it is recommended to take 40,000 IU (international units) per week for 6 weeks and then retest your blood levels. (7)
  • A maintenance dose of 10,000 IU per week is recommended in October through March. (The recommended dosage can vary depending on your body mass and total size.) (7)


Supplements for Lean Mass and Body Composition

Improved body composition is linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. Improved lean muscle mass also reduces the risk of sarcopenia, the loss of muscle fibers as we age. To improve body composition and increase lean mass, you should be performing a progressive resistance training (PRT) program, such as the ones developed by Ixcela, and include foods and supplements that support the growth and recovery of lean muscle mass.

Maximize the benefits of PRTs and improve body composition with these supplements:


1. Creatine Monohydrate

  • Creatine is found in animal products (meat).
  • Common serving size is 5 grams per day mixed with your protein shake or in water
  • 85 g of red meat contains about 0.4 g of creatine. To get a daily dose of 5 g of creatine, you would need to eat more than 1 kg of red meat. I would not recommend this on a daily basis.
  • Creatine is the most researched supplement supporting increased lean mass, reduced body fat, and improved power and endurance.
  • Promising research connects creatine intake to cognition and brain health.
  • Creatine is cheap compared to other supplements on the market!

2. Protein Supplements

  • Protein intake supports muscle protein synthesis (building up), net protein balance in the body, immune function, and improved body composition.
  • 100 g of an animal product will contain approximately 20 g of protein. Vegetable sources are often lower in net protein and have lower digestibility.
  • If you are engaged in sports or exercise, research supports increasing daily intake of protein to 1.6–2.5 g per kilogram of body weight. (2,3)
  • If you weigh about 175 lb and exercise regularly, you need about 120–160 g of protein per day. This is not always feasible or practical. This figure gets higher as your body mass increases too!
  • If you are over 50, your daily protein intake is very important to stave off sarcopenia. A bigger dose of 40 g protein per meal and total intake of around 2 g per kilogram of body weight is justified as long as you do not have kidney issues.
  • Types of Protein
    • Whey protein is fast-acting in terms of digestibility and assists with improving your anabolic response to training.
    • Casein protein is slower digesting and also assists with improving your anabolic response and net protein balance. It is a simple way of getting extra protein in during the day and making your daytime meals more practical.
    • Plant proteins can contain all the essential amino acids, but they are often in lower amino acid concentrations than animal-based proteins. If you are vegan or vegetarian, eat a variety of plant proteins from sources like soy, beans, legumes, quinoa, whole grains, and vegetables to ensure you are getting enough protein.
    • Essential amino acids (EAAs) are not produced by the body and therefore need to be included in the diet.

Being a dad might mean that you put your family and kids first, but it is important to remember to take care of yourself too. Eating a variety of nutritious foods, exercising, and adopting a healthy lifestyle are important for today and for your future as a healthy grandpa. Taking supplements as needed might even help your super-dad powers reach their full potential.

Remember, diet and proper nutrition should be your first priority when aiming to include nutrients like the ones listed above. Supplements, like the name implies, are additions to the diet that can help fill in the gaps and deficiencies. If you are unsure about any of the supplements above or how much you should take, consult your doctor or a registered dietitian.


Resources
  1. Buford, Thomas W, et al. “International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Creatine Supplementation and Exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BioMed Central, 30 Aug. 2007, jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-4-6.
  2. Bill Campbell, et al. “International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Protein and Exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BioMed Central, 26 Sept. 2007, jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-4-8.
  3. Jose Antonio, et al. “The Effects of Consuming a High Protein Diet (4.4 g/Kg/d) on Body Composition in Resistance-Trained Individuals.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BioMed Central, 12 May 2014, jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-11-19.
  4. Foran, et al. “Quantitative Analysis of the Benefits and Risks of Consuming Farmed and Wild Salmon.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Nov. 2005, academic.oup.com/jn/article/135/11/2639/4669888.
  5. Calder, Philip C. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Processes: from Molecules to Man.” Biochemical Society Transactions, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Oct. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28900017.
  6. Kulie, Teresa, et al. “Vitamin D: An Evidence-Based Review.” American Board of Family Medicine, American Board of Family Medicine, 1 Nov. 2009, www.jabfm.org/content/22/6/698.full.
  7. “Evaluation of Vitamin D3 Intakes up to 15,000 International Units/Day and Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations up to 300 Nmol/L on Calcium Metabolism in a Community Setting.” Taylor & Francis, 17 Apr. 2017,https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19381980.2017.1300213.

About Ixcela

Photo: Jessica Petrucci

Ixcela helps individuals measure and improve their internal wellness. Using a simple pinprick blood test, Ixcela measures key metabolites and then makes personalized recommendations to improve gut health through exercise, dietary habits, and supplements.