What Are Dietary Supplements?
According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, vitamins and essential minerals are components of enzymes and cofactors your body needs to accomplish the everyday miracle.
Supplements help your blood vessels and digestive system to remain healthy. They enhance heart health, bone health, the musculoskeletal system, and brain health—along with everything else.
Supplements can help fill nutritional shortcomings and can include key nutrients.
This includes everything from vitamins, protein, minerals, and amino acids to enzymes and coenzymes. They also come in plenty of forms—powders, pills, capsules, soft gels, and liquids. Some popular ones you likely see or take include fish oil, folate, creatine, vitamin D, or calcium.
There are many supplements on the market geared toward athletes. Certain supplements, such as creatine and protein powders, are backed by peer-reviewed research, while others are not.
Most importantly, dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA as food, not as drugs.
However, many dietary supplements contain ingredients that have strong biological effects. They may conflict with any medicine you are taking or a medical condition you may have.
It is important to check for third-party testing such as the NSF-certified mark as your assurance that a product has been tested by a trusted independent certification organization.
Furthermore, review the ingredient list to be sure a given supplement is safe and effective.
Check the labels for allergens like Red 40, Blue 2, and Yellow 5 coloring, artificial flavors, and Lead, Mercury, and PCBs.
Although the Food and Drug Administration may order a supplier to remove particular supplements from the market, they will not test supplements until they’ve received complaints, which typically happens after the fact.
In this article, we’ll list the 10 best types of supplements to improve active men’s health, along with what they are and how they can help you reach your fitness and physical goals.
1. Whey Protein Powder
Whey is a liquid by-product obtained from the cheese-making process, left over once the curdled milk has been strained. In its powdered form whey protein is one of the most popular protein supplements worldwide. It is regarded as one of the best supplements for active men because of its rapid digestion.
If you drink a whey protein shake after training, it quickly kick-starts muscle protein synthesis (MPS). It is the process that repairs muscles damaged by training, making those muscles stronger and bigger.
A 2017 study showed whey protein could help reduce injuries in marathon and amateur runners. Research published by ScienceDaily in 2018 showed dietary protein supplements significantly improve muscle strength and size when taken by healthy adults who lift weights.
If you are serious about making positive changes to your body, you’d be well advised to invest in a tub of high-quality whey powder. Whey protein shakes are typically mixed with skimmed milk or cold water.
Although you can drink the shake whenever you want, they are most beneficial if taken within 30 minutes after completing your workout session. Amino acids, protein building blocks, will rapidly flood your bloodstream for quick transport to your damaged muscles, to form the building blocks of new muscle tissue.
Health Benefits of Whey Protein Powder
Excellent source of protein
Helps with weight loss
Lowers blood sugar
Lowers blood pressure
Helps the liver remove toxins
Helps reduce hunger
Different Forms of Protein Powder
Protein powder comes in different forms. If you want a low-fat protein powder, or if you are lactose intolerant, your best option would be isolated whey protein powder instead of the concentrated whey protein version.
Whey Isolate is derived from the same milk concentration, but it went through a filtering process to help remove the lactose in the powder. Much of the lactose and sugars are removed from whey isolate during processing. This is to create a leaner protein source. However, if you have a dairy allergy, both whey concentrate and isolate may cause stomach upset.
A plant-based protein powder would be best for you. It can provide the full amino-acid profile needed to build thick and dense muscles. Additionally, well-crafted plant-based proteins help with weight management. because they tend to be lower in calories and fat. But they are higher in fiber and other essential nutrients needed to help maintain a healthy digestive balance.
2. Casein protein powder
Casein protein powder is unlike the rapid digestion of whey proteins, casein protein powder is digested slowly. That means the amino acids are almost drip-fed into the muscles, making casein protein the perfect snack before bedtime. While you sleep the amino acid building blocks will work the night shift to repair and recover your muscles and prepare them for your next workout. Casein is another natural nutrient present in milk, making up about 80% of the protein content of cow’s milk.
3. Important Vitamins
Your daily nutritional needs include a load of different vitamins. While some active men choose to take multivitamins and hope for the best, several studies suggest all the necessary vitamins should be consumed in healthy diets. Some suggest it is more beneficial for performing athletes to supplement specific vitamins that their systems may lack. Vitamins also play a significant role in your immune health.
Multivitamins are precisely what the name says, however, there are no hard and fast rules about which vitamins should be included. Nor are there rules about the amounts of each vitamin included. Multivitamins are supplements that contain many different vitamins and minerals, sometimes alongside other ingredients.
Given that there’s no standard for what constitutes a multivitamin, their nutrient composition varies significantly by brand and product. This makes it difficult to tell which is the best men’s multivitamin.
Therefore, the daily multivitamin you take religiously may be entirely different from the one your gym partner takes, and how could you ever know which one is the best multivitamin?
If you eat a healthy whole-food diet that is varied, you should get most of the vitamins and minerals you need. However, with mass-produced factory foods dominating our supermarket shelves, air and soil pollution, and the use of pesticides, the nutrient levels of many foods are nowhere near what we need.
There is no way to know whether your multivitamins are the best vitamins for your unique needs.
For example, you might need vitamin K for its blood clotting qualities, and although most multivitamins contain vitamin K, there is no guarantee that your brand does.
However, if you have access to all the necessary information about the various ingredients in a specific multivitamin product as shown in this video, it could have invaluable benefits to ensure your vitamin consumption is at the daily 100% value.
For you to be healthy your body needs a wide variety of essential vitamins and minerals and a healthy gut to perform at its optimal state. Here we will look at specific vitamins and why you need them.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a crucial vitamin with antioxidant properties. A 2009 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which solely featured people from the United States, made interesting findings. More than seven percent of individuals aged six and older were vitamin C deficient based on blood tests.
More than half of those surveyed consumed low amounts of vitamin C in their regular diets.
People who smoke have insufficient vitamin C levels because it acts as an antioxidant. Also, if you develop bleeding or swollen gums you can be sure your diet does not provide sufficient vitamin C.
The main component of your skin and arteries is collagen, and vitamin C plays a significant role in its formulation. Several studies show that a diet containing foods with high vitamin C content benefits heart health.
Taking Vitamin C supplements before exercise increases the antioxidant power of the blood and appears to lessen exercise-induced oxidative stress in the body.
Thousands of studies over the last decade show that optimized vitamin D intake has significant health benefits. These studies tell us that those with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood have a lower risk for several conditions. They include heart attacks, prostate cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other dreaded diseases.
However, 2022 research found that vitamin D is a workhorse nutrient. It strengthens bones, supports immune function, helps the heart, and powers the body in many other ways.
But recent findings about vitamin D are clear: High doses do not improve heart and circulatory health for most adults any more than modest doses do.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble compound that plays an essential role in many biological functions. It also improves cognition and reduces the risk of dementia and several cancers. Your body produces vitamin D, but only if your skin is exposed to direct sunlight. However, low doses of Vitamin D3 are found in the flesh of fatty fish and fish liver oils. Smaller amounts are found in egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver.
If you live in the UK, or other higher-latitude parts of the world, mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, where you are exposed to limited amounts of sunshine each year, chances are that you will have vitamin D deficiency. According to one study, more than one-half of adults in the UK lack vitamin D.
However, even in places like California where skies are mostly sunny, people lack sufficient vitamin D. The busy lifestyles of most people don’t allow them to expose their arms, legs, and face to at least 15 to 20 minutes of direct sunshine every day. It has been said that 9 in every 10 adults worldwide are vitamin D deficient.
Therefore, Vitamin D supplements are beneficial for all, not only active men.
Vitamin A plays a significant role in supporting T Cells, a type of white blood cell which is a part of your immune system.
It focuses on specific foreign particles of pathogens such as viruses or infectious bacteria. Food sources of vitamin A include cheese, eggs, oily fish, milk, and yogurt. Also, yellow, red, and green leafy vegetables, like spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, and red peppers, and yellow fruit, such as mango, papaya, and apricots.
Vitamin B6 is important for normal brain development and for keeping the nervous system and immune system healthy. Food sources of vitamin B-6 include poultry, fish, potatoes, chickpeas, bananas, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B12 is important for producing new immune cells, and it is a nutrient that helps keep your body’s blood and nerve cells healthy. It also helps make DNA, the genetic material in all of your cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent megaloblastic anemia, a blood condition that makes people tired and weak. Foods containing Vitamin B12 include meat, fish, milk, eggs, and cheese.
Biotin is vitamin B7 which plays a vital role in assisting enzymes to break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in food
Other B vitamins often included in supplements include Thiamine and Niacin which help to turn food into energy to keep the nervous system healthy.
4. Essential Minerals
Minerals are essential for building strong bones and teeth, and controlling body fluids inside and outside cells. It also turns the food you eat into energy.
Magnesium is an essential mineral and enzyme “cofactor” that is involved in more than 350 chemical reactions in your body. Consuming leafy green vegetables will provide some, but not enough magnesium.
If you perform a regular exercise routine that causes you to sweat, you will likely have low magnesium levels, and chronic stress can also lower magnesium levels. Therefore, a magnesium supplement will likely benefit your overall well-being.
Zinc is a trace mineral, meaning that the body only needs small amounts, and yet it is necessary for almost 100 enzymes to carry out vital chemical reactions. It is a major player in the creation of DNA, the growth of cells, building proteins, healing damaged tissue and supporting a healthy immune system.
Another trace mineral found in some supplements is Boron.
It is a biologically active trace mineral that affects calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus metabolism. Furthermore, it is known to support bone strength and structure, and it is a testosterone booster.
CoQ10 is an important compound found in every cell in the body. It is a type of coenzyme, which means that it helps enzymes work more effectively. Although our normal diets provide some CoQ10, studies have shown that CoQ10 enzyme levels are severely lacking in some people. Supplementing with CoQ10 will help increase your energy production within all the muscles in your body, including those around the heart, kidneys, liver, and all the organs within the body.
If you’re a performance athlete, performing anaerobic or aerobic activities, COQ10 LIPOSOMAL, a highly absorbable cellular health formula is going to help replenish CoQ10 levels.
Other important minerals include iron and copper, both of which help maintain cells responsible for good immune function.
5. Amino Acids
A study of the pros and cons of the clinical use of amino acids as a dietary supplement supports the idea of supplementing the diet with essential amino acids. The study found that it is an efficient method to increase the efficiency of the nitrogen supply. It also maintains the integrity of the largest reservoir of amino acids, skeletal muscles.
BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)
BCAAs are a combination of three of the nine essential amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are called “essential” because your body can’t manufacture them, and so they must be obtained through the food you eat or through supplements.
Research is fairly conclusive that supplementing BCAAs before, during, and after training is beneficial. It can aid in inducing the process that lays down new muscle tissue, so your muscles grow bigger and stronger, a process called muscle protein synthesis.
BCAAs improve muscular endurance, increase energy levels, and reduce recovery time. However, high use of BCAAs can deplete levels of other nutrients like vitamin B6. Therefore, it is crucial to discuss the daily value of BCAA’s with a dietician or your physician.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, which means that our bodies can’t manufacture it, so we need to consume it from our diet. It is found in high concentrations in fish oil, especially in fish that live in colder waters.
According to the well-documented health benefits of Omega-3s, they play an important role in the welfare of athletes. Benefits include heart health and reducing cardiovascular disease risks and mental health disorders. Other benefits include weight management and blood sugar control. Omega-3s play an important role in muscle strength, endurance, recovery, and injury prevention for athletes.
The consumption of fish, also containing DHA, is a very important component of a healthy and balanced diet. If you’re not getting the recommended two portions of fish per week, one white and one oily, (not the battered version with French fries on the side) then you should consider taking a high-quality omega-3 supplement.
7. Pre-workout supplement
Pre-workout supplements are designed to be taken about 20 to 30 minutes before your training session. They contain a combination of compounds intended to improve energy, performance, focus, and better blood flow to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your working muscles faster. The key ingredients typically include caffeine, the amino acids beta-alanine and arginine, and creatine, but it may also contain other compounds.
Studies have shown that taking the pre-workout supplement consistently has better effects than using it once every so often. It helps the main ingredients build up in your body. After 3 to 4 weeks, your workouts may last longer, and you might feel less tired during and after them.
Due to their far-reaching benefits, probiotics are also good pre-workout supplements. Both direct and indirect in their effects, probiotics can act as an excellent aid when it comes to physical and mental preparation on workout and rest days.
You should always test a small sample of a product before taking a full dose to make sure you don’t suffer any adverse reactions. Some side effects of pre-workout supplements can include digestive symptoms, irregular heartbeat, a rise in blood pressure, and changes in blood sugar levels.
If you have any symptoms that concern you, stop your workout and call the doctor right away. Remember to talk to them before you try pre-workout supplements, especially if you have underlying health conditions.
Creatine is one of your body’s natural energy sources for muscle contraction. About half of your body’s creatine supply comes from a carnivorous diet and the other half is produced in the kidneys and liver, and then delivered to the skeletal muscles. About 95% of the creatine in your body is stored in your skeletal muscles and is used during physical activity.
Creatine helps to maintain a continuous supply of energy by keeping production up in working muscles. Small amounts are also found in your brain, heart, and other tissues. Creatine is regarded as one of the best supplements for men because its benefits are so well-researched.
Research has shown that creatine supplementation can increase muscle performance. It’s especially potent for short-duration successive bursts of high-intensity exercises, such as weight training, cycling, or interval training. The energy creatine supplies enable your muscles to work hard for longer.
Creatine supplements can Improve your exercise performance, help your recovery after intense exercise, and reduce injury risks, and the severity of injuries, should they happen. It can help you tolerate heavy training loads, and benefits muscle function to increase your fat-free muscle mass during training.
Always take creatine with plenty of water to avoid dehydration risks. It may benefit you to take it with food to help avoid any potential discomfort like stomach upset.
Panax ginseng is taken for a significant number of medical conditions. The origins of this plant begin in Korea, and it has been used for over 2,000 years since. Also grown in areas of China and Siberia, Panax ginseng is unique—it should not be mistaken with other known ginseng, such as American or Siberian ginseng.
Panax ginseng may also be identified as Korean ginseng, Chinese ginseng, or Asian ginseng.
A study titled The effect of ginseng supplement on heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure to resistance training in trained males concluded that Panax Ginseng is beneficial as an ingredient in supplements for active men.
Results show that ginseng helps increase heart rate and blood pressure during exercise, increases cardiac output and blood circulation, and therefore increases oxygen delivery to active muscles. Consuming ginseng is useful for athletes who participate in competitive sports that require strength in order to perform quick exercises without fatigue.
As a bonus, Panax ginseng is linked to increased alertness and could potentially improve erectile dysfunction.
Ashwagandha is a nature-made ancient Ayurvedic medicinal herb classified as an adaptogen, a substance that may help your body deal with stress.
Although ashwagandha is said to provide a host of other health benefits, such as cognitive improvements, reduced blood sugar, and cortisol levels, and managing anxiety and depression, it has become very popular as a supplement for active men.
The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition published the results of a study examining the effect of ashwagandha supplementation on muscle strength and recovery.
This study reports that ashwagandha supplementation is associated with significant increases in muscle mass and strength. It also suggests that ashwagandha supplementation may be useful in conjunction with a resistance training program.
A Final Note
Supporting your health, be it physical or mental, is vital.
Many active men have joined the race to achieve that sought-after chiseled look. Sadly, the desire often leads to athletes taking enhancing supplements without ensuring their safety or even mentioning it to their personal trainers, dietitians, or physicians.
Forgoing optimal health in favor of having a head-turning physique is not worth it. Remember that taking extreme and unapproved supplements might give you massive biceps, but jeopardize your health along the journey. However, the list of supplements discussed here can do more than shady supplements and could ensure your health as you age too.
A well-rounded diet rich in fruits and vegetables and routine exercise are crucial for overall health and disease prevention. There are certain conditions unique to men that certain supplements may be helpful in improving and even preventing.
Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.