Denis Alimonti, Director of U.S. Nutrition, Maypro, Purchase, NY, www.maypro.com
Annie Eng, CEO, HP Ingredients, Bradenton, FL, https://hpingredients.com
Maggie McNamara, Marketing Director, Gencor Pacific, Austin, TX, www.gencorpacific.com
Eric Meppem, Co-founder & Commercial Director, Pharmako Biotechnologies, New South Wales, Australia, www.pharmako.com.au
Guy Woodman, General Manager, Euromed USA, Aptos, CA, www.euromedgroup.com
The days of men’s health being a narrowly defined category—mainly made up of saw palmetto and cranberry juice—are over.
Men’s health needs go way beyond a one-trick-pony supplement for prostate health or a berry juice for urinary health and fortunately the science and solutions in this category have expanded accordingly.
Today, there are a multitude of ingredients and formulas for anti-aging, bone and joint, cognition, exercise, heart health and, yes, also sexual performance, prostate health and urinary support.
Here to help us sort much of it out is a distinguished panel of dietary supplement industry experts.
NIE: How would you describe the market for men’s health supplements and functional foods and beverages today? Talk about market trends.
McNamara: Today, men of all ages can be found on the trail running, biking, hiking, eating healthy fresh meals—more than previous generations. Men seek a larger gain of life expectancy and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the data collected over the years has revealed that the life expectancy for the total American population has increased by nearly 10 years, from 70 years old to 80 years old. In addition, this trend is expected to increase to a total life expectancy of 86 years in U.S. by 2060. The market trends are evident that men are engaging in better health practices, demanding natural and sustainable ingredients in their supplements, foods and beverages.
Because of these demands the market sees a rise in functional ingredients that correlate with the rise of functional foods and functional beverages.
The prevalence of national television advertising for dietary supplement products being promoted for cognitive function, cardiovascular health, hair health and testosterone level maintenance are encouraging men to use these products.
Eng: The market is exhibiting reasonably healthy growth, but there is indeed room for more. It is a given that men are comfortable taking supplements and are also more candid about acknowledging urogenital health concerns.
The primary goal for adult male-specific support is to halt the slowdown of testosterone production, which begins in a man’s 30s. During this time many men have begun families and are dealing with all the stressors that entails, a chronic life stress that induces a higher state of chronic catabolism. Unaddressed, this cycle of lower testosterone and higher cortisol directly impacts quality of life: Sexual, mood, strength—all reduced. What is gained, however, tends to be fat and flab.
Alimonti: On the one hand, men’s health is not a monolithic category—meaning it encompasses such areas as general wellness, bone and joint health, mood support, urinary health, prostate support and sexual health (which includes desire, performance and endurance)—and so it is fragmented.
On the other hand, many men’s health products are solely geared to sexual performance alone and provide no other real health benefits. Manufacturers need to seek out branded ingredients that provide more bang for their buck.
Meppem: There are four main concerns formulators should consider: Efficacy, taste, convenience and onset of action. We no longer live in a world where men will proudly put anything in their mouths, taste and mouth feel are very important. We also now live in a world where consumers (men and women) demand instant gratification, so convenience is key in choosing a suitable dosage format.
A good example of answering these concerns would be the number of new effervescent tablets featuring Pharmako’s bioavailable curcumin: HydroCurc. There have been product launches for men and men’s active nutrition in England, Italy and South Africa.
One key term now recognized by industry and consumers is “bioavailability.” The absorption of nutrients affects the efficacy, dose, onset of action and format. Pharmako Biotechnologies as a business specialize in this innovative field.
Woodman: The prevalence of national television advertising for dietary supplement products being promoted for cognitive function, cardiovascular health, hair health and testosterone level maintenance are encouraging men to use these products.
NIE: Possibly related, if you read the big men’s health magazines, you would think that all men think about is getting ripped, boosting testosterone and sexual prowess, and looking like a GQ model in the process. What are the real health concerns your market research tells you men have, considering that men are not a monolithic segment?
McNamara: It used to be that supplements on the market geared toward men’s health included either testosterone boosters, post recovery and pre workout, improve sexual function and restore hair supplements.
But the men’s health category wasn’t immune to the great effects of a worldwide pandemic that turned, not only the world on its head, but the supplement industry inside out, and like all other categories, it is now embracing a much more holistic approach to health.
The new products in this arena need to offer more than one benefit, they need to address things like immunity, mode, stress and sleep and the male consumer is not oblivious to his newfound supplement needs.
There is always going to be a need for more energy, more sex, more muscle and less fat, but just like the rest of us, men feel the need to add even more value to their supplemental intake.
Eng: Younger men (20s and 30s) do indeed prioritize sexual performance and physique. Older men begin to care more about cardiovascular health and virility, as well as maintaining healthy weight and muscle mass, but not so much about getting ripped, like their younger counterparts.
Meppem: One major concern for men, which flies under the radar is anemia or iron deficiency. Often considered more a female issue, low iron levels affect one in three people, and endurance athletes more than normal people. Inadequate nutrient intake, poor bioavailability due to the complexities of iron absorption, gastric acidity and the effect of inflammatory status, means iron intake often does not meet people’s requirements leading to widespread iron deficiency globally. This is a worldwide public health issue affecting around 2 billion people globally.
Unfortunately, many men (and women) despite being prescribed iron by their doctors or physicians, stop taking iron supplements, due to the not so pleasant side-effects. These include stomach cramps and darkened stools.
A recent ground-breaking study in England demonstrated that HydroCurc, a bioavailable curcumin utilizing Pharmako’s patented LipiSperse technology, not only improves the absorption of both low and high dose serum ferritin, but also decreased all side effects, and improved quality of life measures, while also decrease oxidative blood markers. Low iron levels lead to feelings of fatigue, impaired cognitive and physical performance and function.
Alimonti: Men need a high-quality multi—one which includes all of the letter vitamins, selenium and zinc arginate plus energy-boosting botanicals. They also need omega-3 fish oil, probiotics, vitamin D3, magnesium and research-validated multi-function ingredients, such as Maypro’s Virilast, MicroActive L-Citrulline, PurpleForce and Oligonol.
NIE: How do manufacturers navigate the mine-laden regulatory waters around men’s health performance and sexual performance products, especially given the problems of economic adulteration, both in terms of what they formulate with and what they sell, and how they communicate claims?
Eng: Cheaper generic ingredients may come with a dramatic hidden cost from adulteration, and the concurrent lack of transparency—that may increase risk of adverse events and harm in consumers. A manufacturer just needs to take the time to walk step-by-step with the ingredient supplier to the source of the material. The reputable supplier will encourage questions about origin, process, handling, testing and validation and supply the evidence for each step.
Alimonti: Companies do fine when they stick to the basics—source with trusted suppliers, formulate thoughtfully and surround products with reputable, not hyperbolic, claims.
Woodman: The testing of botanical extracts to identify adulteration is an ever-evolving subject. As soon as a laboratory test is developed to detect adulteration, a means to get around it is developed by the perpetrator. For example, saw palmetto extract adulterated with vegetable oil does not contain natural carotenoids found in the fruit. But once alerted, unscrupulous suppliers have started to blend beta-carotene into their adulterated products.
McNamara: A survey conducted in August 2020 among U.S. adult males, had some 68 percent reporting taking dietary supplements. Almost two-thirds of the adult population in the United States takes dietary supplements.
There is an increase in men searching for scientifically backed and holistic solutions to a wide range of health conditions, focusing on improving their quality of life. This is the current trend that is front and center in the men’s health category.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) reports that 73 percent of all U.S. men are taking dietary supplements to support their health, a greater portion than ever before. This report also found that 42 percent of male supplement users are interested in products that have overall health and wellness benefits.
The men’s health supplement market is growing in that the younger male demographic, like Millennials and Generation Z are embracing healthy lifestyle habits that include both nutritious diets and supplementation. While younger men are focused on supplements to promote looks and achieve muscle mass, as men transition into their 40s, they require additional support for more structure-function-related issues, such as those associated with bone/joints, testosterone increase, sexual function and prostate health.
NIE: Heart health is without a doubt important to men. Manufacturers, give a brief example of an ingredient or finished product that effectively supports men’s health.
Meppem: A well-recognized ingredient for cardiovascular health is coenzyme-Q10. However CoQ10’s absorption is limited as it is a lipophilic (fat soluble) ingredient. When men with heart health concerns are proscribed CoQ10, they are usually told to take it with a high fat meal to aid absorption. Ironically, they are also usually told to reduce their dietary intake of fat, and switch to a low fat, more plant-based diet.
A delivery technology, AquaCelle from Australia is proven in published, human pharmacokinetic studies to eliminate the “food effect” (the need to take medicines/nutrients with fatty meals). AquaCelle is proven to increase the absorption of omega-3s from fish oil by six times, and the absorption of coenzyme-Q10 by three times. This not only reduces the dose required, but also improves the efficacy of those ingredients. Another helpful effect is removing the “fishy reflux” when consuming fish oil.
Alimonti: Supported by more than 30 published studies—including over 12 double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trials—Maypro’s AmealPeptide helps maintain both systolic and diastolic blood pressure already within healthy limits and promotes arterial elasticity.
It also boosts exercise performance by improving recovery and sustaining endothelial function throughout training cycles — plus it helps athletes with their “head game” by supporting healthy cerebral circulation and cognitive function.
Other heart-healthy ingredients include, but are not limited to: MicroActive Resveratrol (which features a micronized, sustained-release technology that allows for better absorption and retention); MicroActive L-Citrulline; and MicroActive CoQ10.
NIE: While urinary or bladder health may not be a subject that men like to discuss, they are certainly on the lookout for natural products that support this. Can you briefly speak to an ingredient or product that supports this?
McNamara: More than 50 percent of men in America over 40 years of age are affected by an enlarged prostate, which can cause multiple issues with urination, weight gain and many others. Symptoms include: a weak or slow urinary stream; a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying; difficulty starting urination; frequent urination; getting up frequently at night to urinate; a urinary stream that starts and stops; straining to urinate; continued dribbling of urine; and returning to urinate again minutes after finishing.
AGEprost is an extract of Ageratum conyzoides. It is a hydroalcoholic extract of aerial parts and has traditionally been used in the Caribbean to maintain prostate and urinary health. It contains numerous chemical compounds such as: Terpenoids, sterols, flavonoids, coumarins and lignans. It has been shown to maintain prostate health.
A. conyzoides L. is a 5-a-reductase inhibitor. It has shown to be able to relax muscles around the urethra and smooth muscles of the neck of the bladder helping relieve urinary retention and frequency. It can also block conversion of testosterone to DHT with subsequent reduction in prostate size improving urine flow.
A 12-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted on 109 men aged 41-76 years old, to assess the efficacy and safety of A. conyzoides in supporting healthy prostate. The results showed a significant reduction in total IPSS score (p<0.01) over time and between active treatment and placebo groups. In the active treatment group, there was a steady reduction in the symptom severity for all questions in the IPSS at TW4 and TW8 and this effect was maintained at TW12.
The active treatment group also had significant reduction in day-time and night-time urinary frequency (p<0.01); decreased in both day-time and night-time frequency at TW4 and this continued at TW8 and TW12 and had significant reduction in total urinary frequency from 9.2 to 6.9 times per day over the course of treatment.
Woodman: The most popular botanical extract for supporting urinary tract health in men is saw palmetto fruit extract.
Euromed’s saw palmetto supercritical oil extract, Prosterol has been tested and shown to be effective in a pre-clinical mechanism of action study and a clinical trial in men. The extract is commonly combined with Pygeum africanum (African plum tree) bark extract, Prunera and also nettle root extract. These two botanicals have complementary bioactivity to that of Prosterol.
NIE: Saw palmetto is kind of the elder statesman in the men’s health category, especially relating to prostate health. Anything new on the saw palmetto front?
Woodman: Euromed and its German parent firm have been conducting research on saw palmetto extract back to the mid 1980s. The large body of research that has been developed resulted in saw palmetto extract being the best recognized botanical for men’s prostate health. We suggest consumers look for 100 percent saw palmetto oil extract in the form of Prosterol, when selecting a prostate health product.
One category that is exhibiting great popularity now is the use of saw palmetto extract in formulas for hair health.
NIE: Multi-ingredient formulations for men’s health can be beneficial, as they can address several health areas at once. Give an example of a superior men’s health composition or formulation?
McNamara: Chronic stress can wreak havoc on both men and women and the propensity to develop some sexual dysfunction. While stress is not the only risk factor, it should be addressed or considered when taking supplements to help with circulation, libido and hormones. An example would be to take both affron (a saffron extract) clinically proven to effect mood and stress and combine that with Testofen, which has studies showing it helps support healthy testosterone levels, promotes sexual desire and vitality and reduces recovery time following sexual activity.
Alternatively, combining a palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) which is an endogenous fatty acid amide produced naturally in the body in response to injury and stress. PEA has import anti-inflammatory, analgesic and neuro-protective properties and is categorized as part of the extended endocannabinoid family with similar health benefits. Levagen+, a branded PEA has been clinically proven to address inflammation, sleep, stress and joint health.
Combining this ingredient with curcuminoids (curcumin), which are shown to be amongst some of the most potent antioxidants in the natural world. Scientists believe chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic disease. Curcumin is capable of neutralizing free radicals in the body, known to support cognitive, muscle, heart, joint and overall health—all very important to men’s health in this current market.
The branded curcumin, HydroCurc is proven to be the world’s most bioavailable curcumin in a single dose, supported by human pharmacokinetic study showing 807 ng/ml curcuminoids in blood plasma—the accurate way to measure and compare absorption. The next best only achieves 200 ng–250 ng/ml. Also clinically studied to improve Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and Postexercise Lactate Accumulation, a study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements shows it can help with recovery, which is an important area of concern for all active men trying to keep healthy pre- and post-exercise.
Woodman: Phytochemicals present in different botanicals can be complementary to each other. Euromed has developed Pomalive, a combination of olive fruit extract containing hydroxytyrosol and pomegranate extract. Two clinical trials found Pomalive improved cardiovascular risk factors in human subjects.
Alimonti: One great ingredient we have brough to market is Virilast. It is a clinically tested, patented formula made from seven ayurvedic herbs that addresses multiple facets of male sexual health. Virilast is a unique, all-natural complex of standardized extracts to guarantee consistent efficacy that is supported by two human clinical studies, including a 148-subject double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center trial.
The research shows that Virilast supports an increase in DHEA and testosterone levels while providing antioxidant protection, enhancing the release of nitric oxide to improve circulation, promoting dopaminergic activity which may fuel sexual desire, and relieving occasional stress that can affect sexual performance.
NIE: Depression is common among men, and so are concerns about cognitive health. Are there brain-boosting and mood-enhancing products geared specifically to men?
Alimonti: While not geared exclusively to men, research shows that Maypro’s ETAS—a proprietary ingredient derived from the tough lower portion of asparagus stalks—may increase sleep quality, alleviate occasional stress, reduce fatigue, improve stress response and boost cognitive performance.
Another option we have in this space is Venetron. Derived from a patented, purified, powdered extract of Apocynum venetum, research shows that Venetron helps promote a positive outlook, alleviate stress and improve sleep quality.
McNamara: Depression is common among men, and in the past few decades extensive scholarly, and scientific discussions have been had about gender differences in depression. However, in a few studies no or little differences in gender depression have been found, therefore, the brain and mood-enhancing supplement market has no, or little products geared specifically to men.
Nevertheless, consumers have options on natural products that are geared toward anyone in need of cognitive health support and mood-enhancement.
For example, Gencor and their global partner Pharmactive hold the only U.S., patent for mood with their saffron extract branded ingredient, affron. This branded ingredient is the most clinically backed saffron ingredient worldwide and backed by eight clinical studies to support mental balance. In addition, another area of concern which affects cognitive health and mood in men is testosterone levels. When a man has too little testosterone, the symptoms which are triggered are depression, irritability and poor concentration, which is correlated with cognitive health and mood.
Gencor’s natural testosterone booster Tesnor is a proprietary blend of cocoa bean and pomegranate peel boosting extract that increases testosterone production while reducing Aging Male Symptoms Scores. These magnificent natural ingredients are superheroes to the rescue in support of cognitive health and mood enhancement.
NIE: Mobility is implied in many of these questions, but what are the top one or two stand-out ingredients for bone-and-joint health?
Woodman: The loss of lean muscle tissue to support mobility for functional independence and quality of life during healthy aging is of concern to many people. Researchers at the Sports Physiology Department of the Catholic University of San Antonio (Spain) tested the efficacy of a new extract from spinach, Spisar in people over the age of 50. They found it improved muscle strength and muscle quality, especially in older women, on an exercise training regimen.
Alimonti: A CRN Consumer Survey estimated that 79 percent of U.S. adults over age 55 consume supplements. As more humans live longer, we can anticipate that number will grow and so will the bone-and-joint health category. Maypro has two stand-out ingredients in the space.
The first is MBP. It is a component of whey consisting of several different biologically active proteins, including high mobility group-like protein, cystatin C and lactoferrin. Human clinical research has shown that MBP maintains normal bone metabolism and structure by: encouraging healthy bone remodeling—as MBP increases the number of osteoblasts (cells that build bone) and inhibits the activity of osteoclasts (cells that break down bone); and by promoting collagen formation—calcium is needed for bone strength, but without collagen, it has no place to attach to the bones; so, by increasing collagen production MBP helps calcium adhere to bone.
Our second ingredient in the space that is gaining favor is AppleActiv DAPP. Made from 100 percent organic apple peels sourced exclusively from America. Research shows that AppleActiv DAPP supports joint comfort, encourages healthy range of motion, and promotes healthy joint function. Manufacturers like the ingredient’s organic, non-GMO (genetically modified organism), and upcycled sustainability position.
NIE: What other health or beauty concerns are there and which ingredients are available to address them for men?
Alimonti: While not only for men, Juvecol is a salmon cartilage extract manufactured in an eco-friendly manner using byproducts of the food industry. It is the first naturally produced proteoglycan that is commercially available with clinical substantiation for joint and skin health. Studies have shown indications for improvement in both joint comfort and mobility extension, as well as skin elasticity, moisture and appearance. Since the extract is extremely water soluble, Juvecol is the perfect partner for beverage solutions as well as easy to take tablets and capsules.
McNamara: There are multiple health and beauty concerns that dominate the spectrum, luckily, there are more natural alternatives in today’s market than previously called for. For example, as men age testosterone levels deplete and require support or a boost to promote the development of more testosterone in the body. Gencor provides two natural ingredients targeting this health concern—Testofen and Tesnor.
Testofen targets health and beauty concerns, while the Tesnor targets testosterone health concerns. Testofen has researched benefits that increase testosterone, boost libido, improve QOL (quality of life), reduce body fat, increase energy while improving muscle strength and mass. Tesnor is a food derived, standardized and IP protected testosterone boosting extract that increases in-cell testosterone production.
In addition, a beauty concern for men for generations has been hair loss. According to the industry statistics reported by IBISWorld, the market size for the hair loss treatment manufacturing industry in the U.S. in 2022 is measured to be approximately $3.4 billion in 2022. Men affected by hair loss try every remedy available in the market. However, many hair growth options out there seem to lack the natural ingredient approach.
HairAge Vitae is Gencor’s branded ingredient improving individuals outer and inner beauty formulated from the tropical plant Ageratum conyzoides. HairAge in men has proven to reduce hair loss while increasing follicle development. Thus, considered being an ingredient to stimulate your confidence.
Woodman: The preservation of healthy circulation to the extremities during aging is a common concern that we receive from our customers. Dietary flavonoids are known to improve circulation but unfortunately, the most prevalent flavonoid in the U.S. diet is hesperidin from oranges and it is very poorly absorbed. Euromed has developed a product called Wellemon that provides a soluble and 1,000 times more bioavailable alternative in the form of eriocitrin. A comparative study in humans comparing Wellemon intake to an orange extract found up to 300 times more flavonoid metabolites. NIE