As men become better educated about their health and more in tune with their needs, many strive to be proactive about their bodies — and for good reason. A 2018 national health survey revealed that while 72% of men aged 18-44 considered their health to be excellent or very good, only 55% of men aged 45-64 rated their health that way. That number fell to 48% among men 65-74 and 41% in men 75 and over. These numbers are a stark reminder of how quickly health can fade and how important it is to take preventive measures to protect long-term wellness.
For men’s health, mid-life is one of the most critical points. This is when many health problems begin and the effects of unhealthy habits finally emerge. As such, around the age of 40 is a good time to record baselines and ensure that you are supporting your physical and emotional well-being. This strategic intervention should include smart lifestyle choices, but may also incorporate dietary supplementation. The best supplements for men over 40 should not only benefit your present needs but help to safeguard your future.
Establishing a Healthy Lifestyle
For men interested in supporting a healthy future, it is important to consider what lies ahead and make lifestyle choices that can have a protective effect. These steps can help men over 40 ensure that their future outlook is positive:
- Establish a routine that includes a healthy, varied diet, and incorporates regular exercise
- Avoid/cease tobacco use and limit alcohol consumption
- Develop a relationship with a primary care practitioner that includes a thorough history and physical
- Undergo screening tests for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and prostate health; set up a schedule to monitor periodically
- Learn how to manage stress in positive ways
As men strive to optimize their health in the present and safeguard their future, they often look for ways to supplement their diet and regulate their nutritional intake. While supplements do not replace healthy behaviors like eating right and exercising, they can help you enhance your vitality, support greater overall health, and, in some cases, address specific health concerns.
Best Supplements for Men Over 40
In an ideal world, a healthy and varied diet provides all the nutrients necessary for your body to function at its peak. In reality, however, busy lifestyles, time constraints, and limited, seasonal supplies hinder progress. Over time, deficiencies of vitamins and minerals can leave us vulnerable to a variety of serious health conditions.
A good multivitamin supplement is an effective way to ensure you are getting the full range of micronutrients the body needs. Research has demonstrated the benefit of supplementing with a high-quality multivitamin for the prevention of some of life’s greatest health risks, including many of the dangerous conditions prevalent in older adults:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Eye problems
- Cognitive decline
- Cancer (especially in men)
Taking a multivitamin supplement is like an insurance policy that ensures key nutrients are included in your daily diet.
Men over 40 should look for a multivitamin with two of the most important vitamins for later life: vitamin D and vitamin B12. While these vitamins are important at any stage of life, they’re especially crucial in older people due to their role in maintaining bone health (vitamin D) and protecting cognitive function (vitamin B12). Moreover, as you age, your body is less able to absorb these vitamins from sources like food and sunlight, so supplementation is a must for many older adults.
Supplement considerations: Look for a multivitamin with ingredient levels at or near the recommended daily allowances (RDA) and one that is tailored to your gender and age group. Taking your multivitamin supplement with food will aid its absorption. Keep in mind that a multivitamin should supplement, not replace, a healthy diet.
Creatine is a non-protein amino acid found in red meat and seafood. As a supplement, it is used to improve athletic performance and support muscle recovery. Produced in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, creatine is stored in the muscles where it provides energy for muscle contraction. It benefits athletes needing short bursts of energy and is used by both professionals and amateurs to improve performance during exercise, build lean muscle mass, prevent injury, and aid recovery post-exercise.
This has particular significance for men over 40; by age 40, most men have begun to experience the gradual decline of testosterone that is part of their natural hormonal lifecycle. With dropping testosterone levels come physiological changes, including loss of lean muscle mass. The muscle protective effect of creatine can help men build and retain muscle as they age.
Supplement considerations: Though creatine is generally considered safe, side effects may include digestive upset and muscle cramping. Men supplementing with creatine should drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Look for a reputable source of creatine to ensure purity and potency of the product, and always consult your doctor before starting new supplements.
Selenium is a trace element found in brazil nuts, fish, and organ meat. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from damage by free radicals — waste products created as a byproduct of our metabolism and due to exposure to toxins in our environment. Free radicals have an unbound electron and when they exceed the number of antioxidants available to donate an electron, they cause a chain reaction that leads to a state of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress has been implicated in the inflammatory disease process related to serious health conditions like arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. It is also thought to be responsible for many of the other health problems associated with aging. An antioxidant, like selenium, can donate an electron to free radicals, thus potentially neutralizing their danger.
Supplement considerations: The RDA for men over 40 is 55 micrograms. Selenium is available as a stand-alone supplement or as part of a multivitamin. Side effects include digestive upset and a metallic taste in the mouth. Be careful not to exceed the RDA.
Saw palmetto is a phytotherapy (herbal treatment) that comes from a palm tree grown in the southeastern United States. Historically, it was a commonly prescribed treatment for prostate and urinary problems. Available now as a supplement, saw palmetto is used to support prostate health, specifically benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), the non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate common in men over 40.
The incidence of BPH increases with age: studies reveal 50% of men are affected by age 60 and 90% of men by age 90. It is clear that the longer men live, the greater the chances they will be affected by the urinary symptoms and erectile dysfunction of BPH. While prescription medications and surgical intervention are available to treat BPH, many men use saw palmetto supplements as a proactive and noninvasive strategy to reduce inflammation of the prostate and prevent future complications.
Supplement considerations: A standardized hexane extraction procedure that offers saw palmetto in a fat-soluble form seems to be most effective, so look for a supplement that offers an accessible form. Side effects are rare and limited to digestive upset and headache. Saw palmetto does not affect prostate-specific antigen readings, and therefore will not interfere with monitoring tests for prostate cancer.
Fiber refers to the indigestible portion of the plants we eat that travels through our digestive system and plays a critical role in digestion. Soluble fiber — found in foods like oatmeal, lentils, apples, and blueberries — dissolves in water and helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol. Insoluble fiber — found in whole wheat, legumes, and brown rice — passes through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract largely unchanged. It helps food move through the GI tract and prevents constipation. Consumption of adequate dietary fiber is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease — one of the most common causes of death in men.
Supplement considerations: While fiber is easy to find in food sources, it is estimated that only 5-10% of adults get the recommended daily amount of fiber. While emphasizing dietary fiber from fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, men over 40 can easily incorporate a fiber supplement to ensure adequate intake. To simulate all of the health benefits of the fiber found in whole foods, a supplement should provide a soluble, non-fermenting, gel-forming fiber.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These nutrients, found mainly in oily fish and nuts, are vital for good heart health, and they may help reduce the risk of stroke as well. The problem? No one’s body, old or young, can produce omega-3s on its own. Instead, you’ll need to seek out dietary sources and/or supplements.
Primary dietary sources of omega-3s include fish like salmon and trout, as well as certain nuts and seeds like walnuts and flaxseed. However, many people also choose to take omega-3 supplements such as fish oil. Many studies have shown benefits to cardiovascular health from omega-3 supplementation, although not all point in the same direction, and require more research.
Supplement considerations: Look for a fish oil supplement that contains both EPA and DHA, the two most important omega-3s. As with other supplements, talk to your doctor before you start taking fish oil or other omega-3 supplements. This is particularly important if you take blood thinning drugs such as warfarin, which can have negative interactions with fish oil.
Magnesium plays a key role in all kinds of body functions, from bone health to energy production. Most people get their magnesium intake through their diet via foods like nuts, leafy greens, and dark chocolate. In recent years, however, experts have begun sounding the alarm that many people aren’t getting enough magnesium, and the problem is especially prevalent among older adults.
Currently, most medical advice recommends adding a few servings of magnesium-rich foods to your diet before trying a supplement. In some cases, though, your doctor may advise you to add a magnesium supplement, especially if you have a condition that can cause magnesium deficiency.
Supplement considerations: Magnesium glycinate is a preferred option for supplementation, since it’s more readily absorbed than some other forms. However, be sure to ask your medical care team about whether magnesium supplements are right for you, since excessive levels of this mineral can be harmful for your health.
Perpetuating Good Health
For men seeking to continue living in good health as they age, 40 is a great time to take stock and make some plans for the future. Finding a trusted practitioner to be your partner in the process is a good first step. Evaluating your lifestyle and identifying potential problems (tobacco or excessive alcohol use) or deficits (healthy eating and exercise) can help to put you on a proactive path. Your healthcare provider can also advise you about the appropriateness of supplementation as added value in your healthy, preventive plan for enduring health.
If you want more guidance on the best supplements for men over 40, BodyLogicMD can help. The practitioners in the BodyLogicMD network are experts in the science of aging and can create a personalized, proactive plan to help you age gracefully and healthfully. Contact a local practitioner to schedule your first appointment, or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz to learn about how hormones may be affecting your everyday health.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.