The Best Supplements for Men over 40
What are the best supplements for men over 40? I'm over 40, by a couple of days or… anyway, what should I be looking for in the way of supplements to augment the inevitable processes of aging? What changes are taking place, and are about to take place in my body, and what can I do, supplement-wise, to increase my healthspan and quality of life?
Aging -- can't live with it, and can't live without it. Aging reminds me of a see-saw. Aging also reminds me of the universe, with its expansion and acceleration. We expand as we age, with increased belt sizes and ever-increasing numbers on the bathroom scale.
Zero to 40 is the upward arc, during which everything seems to be working per design. Forty is the zenith of life. Forty marks the culmination of youth and the end of youthfulness. After 40, we begin to experience the downward motion, on our way to… well, you know.
Aging kind of creeps up on us. We encounter some stiffness when we get out of bed one morning. Our hair is thinning out and it seems like every day we spot more gray. Our skin no longer radiates the vibrancy of youth. Our vision isn't what it used to be. Ditto on the hearing. Wounds take longer to heal. And these are the things on the outside, the tell-tale signs. What's going on inside of us?
The Aging Syndrome
The aging syndrome involves a number of physiological processes which are unavoidable. All men begin to experience these changes around the age of 40 in different ways, to different degrees, and in varying time frames, but they're more or less universal. Let's look at them and see if we can utilize supplements, or other natural methods, to counteract the effects of these processes and the changes associated with them.
I recently read an easy-to-understand, scientifically-based definition of aging from Steve Hill, a biotechnology and aging journalist, and a board member of the 'Life Extension Advocacy Foundation' (LEAF):
"Essentially, aging is damage and error, a collection of different processes that cause damage through the accumulation of waste, imperfect repairs, dysfunction and deregulation of cellular processes, and responses to these things.
In order to stay alive, the body attempts to maintain a balance between damage and repair, which is known as homeostasis. In simple terms, aging is what happens when that balance is lost and the body becomes damaged faster than it can repair itself. Eventually, the various aging processes result in the familiar signs of aging and the development of age-related diseases that finally kill us" .
Supplement Possibilities for Men Over 40
When considering plant-based supplements, it is normally advisable to choose 'extracts', as opposed to the simple powdered herb, because the herb itself usually has the presence of the active phytochemicals in concentrations that are too low to provide the desired result. Powdered extracts (nutraceuticals) have the active components concentrated in higher percentages, which is usually more effective.
Let's review some of these dysfunctions and deregulations associated with aging and the physiological changes and effects associated with them.
Swollen Prostate – (medical term: 'Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia - BPH')
Saw Palmetto Extract (contains beta-sitosterol)
A man's prostate begins to slowly enlarge with age, usually beginning around the age of twenty-five. Prostatic cells multiply, and the enlargement can gradually place pressure on the urethra, resulting in bladder obstruction. By the time a man reaches forty, he may already begin to experience the symptoms which result from this pressure, which include more frequent urination, difficulty starting to urinate, and non-continuous urinary stream. Roughly half of all men will experience these symptoms at some point in their lives .
One study, which focused on natural methods to relieve the symptoms of 'BPH', concluded:
"Moderate exercise and the type and amount of protein intake have a considerable influence on BPH symptoms. The intake of zinc and vitamin D also positively influence BPH symptoms, and so do certain supplements, such as saw palmetto extract." 
A similar study concluded:
"Dietary factors have an impact on metabolic disorders that lead to diabetes and obesity - both of which inversely effect BPH and LUTS (lower urinary tract symptoms). Dietary patterns associated with increased risks include starches and red meats, whereas moderate alcohol intake and polyunsaturated fat and vegetable consumption decrease risks." 
Hormonal Changes (testosterone)
Tongkat ali extract
Testosterone is a vital hormone for men, affecting many aspects of his health and well-being. The benefits of high levels of testosterone include strength and stamina, higher energy levels, better mood, increased muscle mass, decreased body fat, improved concentration, assertiveness, and sexual performance. Testosterone levels decline at a rate of 1-2% per year, beginning around the age of 35 or 40 .
One of the biochemical challenges with testosterone is that the liver produces enzymes that break pure testosterone down into a weaker male hormone known as DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT supports certain male functions, but it does not convey the benefits of pure testosterone. As we age, our body produces less and less testosterone. However, the liver continues to produce these enzymes as if our testosterone levels were higher, which further decreases testosterone.
Two herbal supplements have been found to help counteract this dilemma resulting in higher testosterone levels: Tongkat ali and Fenugreek.
Tongkat ali extract (Eurycoma longifolia), has been shown to increase testosterone levels in both human and animal studies . Tongkat ali is a tree native to Southeast Asia, and its root bark is rich in beneficial bioactive compounds, including 'eurycomanone', the chemical active in testosterone production .
Fenugreek extract is another beneficial botanical to help increase testosterone . Fenugreek inhibits the enzymes produced by the liver that converts testosterone into DHT. This allows the body to retain pure testosterone longer, and also increases the amount of available ("free") )testosterone. (In a 2015 study, women also used fenugreek extract experienced a significant increase in free testosterone, sexual desire and estradiol, a form of estrogen .)
D-aspartic acid is an amino acid involved in the biosynthesis of proteins. It's used by many athletes and bodybuilders and is widely associated with high levels of testosterone  .
Tongkat ali extract
There is a direct correlation between a man's age and his ability to get his female partner pregnant, resulting from lower sperm concentrations, lower seminal volume, lower motility (swimming ability), and the deterioration of sperm cells . These changes in sperm quality usually begin around the age of forty-five.
There are some scientifically-backed supplements which can improve sperm quality and increase sperm quantity, including: Tongkat ali extract , D-Aspartic acid , vitamin D , vitamin C , and zinc .
Exercise has also been demonstrated to improve sperm parameters .
Tongkat ali extract
Ginkgo biloba extract
Oats and oat straw
Maintaining healthy hormone levels is essential to sexual functioning in men. This includes erectile frequency, erectile quality, sexual satisfaction and desire. A nine year study showed that "sexual intercourse or activity frequency decreased by less than once per month, two times per month, and three times per month in men in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, respectively. Number of erections per month declined by 3, 9, and 13 in men in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, respectively." 
Testosterone precursors, like Tongkat ali extract and fenugreek extract can support sexual functioning. Other supplements shown to benefit sexual function are: DHEA (a hormone which supports both testosterone and estrogen) , vitamin D , and D-aspartic acid , , , .
Stress has also been linked to sexual dysfunction , so anti-stress measures like exercise, meditation, and yoga are also beneficial deterrents.
Two botanicals, Yohimbe extract and Tribulus extract, have been shown to increase blood flow to the penis, and have long been associated with improved sexual performance .
Herbs associated with increased sexual desire are Tribulus, Ashwagandha, Tongkat ali, Gingko biloba, and oats or oat straw , .
Loss of Muscle Mass (medical term: 'Sarcopenia')
Vegetable protein (whey, pea)
Tongkat ali extract
One inevitable consequence of aging for men is the loss of muscle mass. By the age of 40, most men have already lost one to five percent of their muscle mass, which is an outcome of the gradual loss of muscle cell function .
This loss accelerates with age resulting in loss of strength, fragility, and impedance of physical activity. Factors which contribute to loss of muscle include: inadequate protein intake, decline in ability to assimilate and extract energy from protein, sedentary lifestyle, impaired function of motor neurons, and mitochondrial dysfunction. We probably don't need science to tell us that increased physical activity is an effective deterrent to muscle loss, but some researchers went to the trouble of verifying it for us .
Another study verified the benefits of vegetable protein supplementation on reducing the effects of muscle loss in the elderly .
Immune System Decline (medical term: 'Immunosenescence')
Senolytic activators (theaflavins, quercetin)
Green tea extract (EGCG)
Another outcome of aging is immunosenescence, which is a reduction in the efficiency of the immune system, involving a man's reduced capacity to respond to infections and his ability to develop long-term immune memory. As a result, men over the age of 40 typically have higher levels of inflammation, compared to younger adults putting them at risk for age-related diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. This reduced immune efficiency also results in delayed injury repair .
Fortunately, there are some excellent supplements that support immune function. Liposomal glutathione is a naturally-occurring protein, or peptide, present in every human cell. Scientific research has shown it to be an effective immune system booster .
A compromised immune system also impacts our body's ability to fight off chronic inflammation promoted by old, diseased cells, known as senescent cells. Such cells are in a zombie state -- they're neither dead or alive -- and are harmful to neighboring cells due to the inflammatory chemicals they emit, and the immune system's inability to clear them. Research studies have shown theaflavins and quercetin to be effective against senescent cells and to have immune boosting properties , , .
Nutritional supplementation with zinc, vitamin E, and probiotics has also been shown to be effective in improving immune function .
Supplement possibilities: NMN
Mitochondria allow cells to assimilate energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. They're the cell's energy source. As men age (and women too), mitochondria function declines, particularly in the heart and skeletal muscle tissue .
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been shown to precede the two principal physical declines associated with male aging; heart failure, and loss of muscle mass .
Perhaps the most effective means of increasing mitochondrial function is by increasing the cells' levels of NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), a cellular compound which plays a vital role in maintaining our mitochondrial levels and activity. Since NAD decreases with age, supplementation with its precursor, NMN, has been shown to be an effective means of increasing both NAD levels and mitochondrial function .
The End Game
We can use supplements and other natural methods to potentially increase our lifespan and to enhance our healthspan. But despite our best efforts, the 'Old Reaper' is going to get us, eventually. We're burning up in our oxygen-rich atmosphere (oxidation), while we're being continually crushed by gravity. Yes, we can load up on antioxidants, but can't escape gravity. The aim is to resist this gravity as long as possible, and to make it a soft landing.
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- Melis MR, Succu S, Mascia MS, Cortis L, Argiolas A. Extracellular excitatory amino acids increase in the paraventricular nucleus of male rats during sexual activity: main role of N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptors in erectile function. Eur J Neurosci. 2004;19(9):2569-75
- Melis MR, Succu S, Iannucci U, Argiolas A. N-methyl-D-aspartic acid-induced penile erection and yawning: role of hypothalamic paraventricular nitric oxide. Eur J Pharmacol. 1997;328(2-3):115-23
- D'aniello A, Di cosmo A, Di cristo C, Annunziato L, Petrucelli L, Fisher G. Involvement of D-aspartic acid in the synthesis of testosterone in rat testes. Life Sci. 1996;59(2):97-104