In June, we celebrate Men’s Health month in the United States. The goal is to raise awareness about preventable health issues specific to men and to encourage them to seek early detection and treatment.
One particular health challenge for men is maintaining good prostate health. All men are at risk for prostate problems—the three most common issues being benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), prostatitis (inflammation) and prostate cancer.
Aging increases a man’s risk of prostate problems, but there are nutrients that can be consumed through diet and/or supplementation to support a healthy prostate gland.
Here are three worth considering.
A trace mineral with many roles in supporting good health, zinc plays a role in DNA synthesis and hormonal function and is found in almost all of the body’s fluids and tissues, with the highest levels found in prostatic fluid.
The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance for men is 11 milligrams/day. Foods rich in zinc include red meat, chicken and oysters, as well as plant-based options such as soybeans and other legumes, though these are not as readily absorbed.
Results from a prospective study evaluating the impact of supplements on cancer risk found that men taking a long-term, single-nutrient zinc supplement had a significantly reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer.
The saw palmetto plant has been used by men medicinally for centuries to treat both reproductive and urinary tract issues.
The most common use of saw palmetto today is to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate gland that effects approximately 90% of men over the age of 60. One clinical study with over 500 subjects found that saw palmetto was effective at reducing the urinary problems associated with BPH.
Saw palmetto is available in a number of formulations including capsules, tablets and liquid extracts. The standard dosage is 160 milligrams twice daily.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) has been used for hundreds of years to treat inflammation and pain associated with joint and muscle conditions as well as urinary tract infections.
Stinging nettle root is commonly used today to treat urinary conditions and symptoms related to an enlarged prostate.
In an 8-week clinical trial, subjects with BPH who were given stinging nettle at a dose of 600 milligrams twice a day had significantly fewer symptoms than those subjects who were given a placebo, and none of the subjects reported any side effects.
Stinging nettle root is available in capsule and powder forms and is often found in prostate health supplements combined with saw palmetto.
Though these supplements are generally considered safe when used as directed, always speak to your doctor before starting a new regimen since some supplements have known interactions with common prescription drugs.
Karen Morse, MPH, is a freelance health and nutrition writer. In her free time, she enjoys Pilates, exploring nearby hiking trails and cooking up fresh, seasonal eats in the kitchen. Her work has appeared in Clean Eating, Weight Watchers, YouBeauty.com and others.