The best supplements for men is an ambitious topic. There is no one best supplement or stack of supplements that can address every mans’ specific needs or aspirations. Sure, there is a Car of the Year, but there is also a Sports Car of the Year, Truck of the Year, and Performance Car of the Year. Different vehicles address varying needs, desires for status, functionality, or to make a dream come true. To some extent, the same is true for a man’s goals and objectives when it comes to his health, body image, and level of fitness.
For some men, general health and wellbeing are sufficient, while others want to remain fit to enjoy their children or favorite pastime. Some men must stay functionally fit to perform their job. Still, others want to remain active, perhaps even competitive in various endeavors, be it on the course, the courts, the road or track, and the gym.
This Best Of guide starts with a base plan designed to meet your basic nutrient needs, avoiding any potential deficiencies, and helping you to look and feel your best. We then layer on products you might require as you reach certain aging milestones and address specific conditions such as the endurance or strength athlete. We identify those supplements best suited for someone with weight loss goals, joint health problems, or declining hormone levels as detailed in our Aging Athlete recommendations.
We think we’ve addressed the majority of reasons you might need or desire to supplement and identified the best ingredients to support your objectives.
Supplements For Men Base Plan
In a perfect world, or with the perfect diet, supplementation would not be necessary. The role of dietary supplements is to provide those nutrients you are not getting or not getting in sufficient quantity from the foods you eat. Today’s typical Western diet contains far too many nutrient-depleted fast foods and processed foods, containing added sugars and refined grains. Even those attempting to eat healthy, getting plenty of protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, face the dilemma that over-farming and depleted soil has reduced the nutrient content in our foods and animal products.
That said, food first remains our mantra when it comes to nutrition. You should attempt to meet your complete nutritional needs through a healthy diet. However, this is not always possible, and so the Base Plan is designed to ensure you are getting all the required nutrients. Consider it your insurance policy against dietary deficiencies.
There are essential macronutrients and micronutrients required for your body to function properly. Primary among these are vitamins and minerals (micronutrients), protein (one of the three main macronutrients in food), and EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids).
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Base Plan Supplements
- Multivitamin/Mineral – although an MVM can be any supplement containing more than one vitamin and at least one mineral, we recommend a Men’s supplement with a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Your MVM should deliver approximately 100% of your Recommended Daily Values for vitamins and minerals – avoid supplements that contain more than the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for iron, of 8 mg per day.
- Whey Protein Powder – it is entirely possible to source the required protein for a normal male from your dietary intake. The US RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. This equates to roughly 65 grams of protein for a 180-pound man. If you find you are not meeting this requirement, we recommend a quality whey protein powder to supplement your intake.
- EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) – EFAs are essential to life yet must be accessed through food or supplementation. Salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and cod liver oil are all excellent sources. If you detest seafood, flaxseed is another alternative. Fish Oil supplements containing Omega 3 and 6, with EPA and DHA, are another option.
- Probiotics – the good bacteria in your digestive tract that keeps your body healthy and working well. Probiotics play an essential role in gut health – home to some 80% of your immune system, which protects us against colds, pathogens, viruses, and other “bugs.”
As you can see, the Base Plan is all about providing essential nutrients in the required amounts – supplementing your diet, not in place of the foods you eat.
The Immune Health Stack
This stack would be in addition to or in place of the MVM in the Base Plan. There are three nutrients we highly recommend to boost your immune system, particularly during cold and flu season, to prevent respiratory ailments:
- Vitamin D3 – there are numerous benefits to vitamin D3, such as bone health, brain benefits, muscle retention, burning body fat, maintaining testosterone levels, potentially helping avoid certain cancers, and for your immune system. Recommended dosage 2,000 – 8,000 IUs (International Units) per day.
- Vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant that also supports your immune system. Recommended dosage 2 grams per day.
- Zinc – to support your immune system, 10 mg dose for a normal male, increasing for those training to 30 mg.
Supplements for Athletes
This segment becomes a bit more condition-specific in our recommendations. Are you an endurance athlete, strength athlete, or bodybuilder? Depending on your sport of choice, your nutritional profile and supplement needs are different.
Best Supplements for Endurance Athletes
Vitamin & Mineral Focus – consider the following Vitamins and Minerals for their role in injury avoidance in endurance sports and recovery from intense workouts:
- Vitamin D3 and Calcium for strong bones
- Antioxidant vitamins such as C and E for protection against free radical damage
- B12 for energy, red blood cells, and recovery
- Magnesium for bone health and muscle contractions
Sports Performance Supplements for Endurance Athletes
These are the most important ergogenic aids for the endurance athlete. They produce energy, reduce the potential for stress-related injuries, and aid in recovery from endurance events:
The endurance athlete’s protein requirements are 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram (2.2lbs) of body weight, significantly higher than the average person’s. Achieving these levels from diet alone may present a challenge. Whey protein is an excellent option to supplement your protein intake from your diet.
Best Supplements for Strength Athletes
The following recommendations are for the athlete seeking lean muscle gains. These products have all been validated in scientific studies and the gym:
- Protein – for strength athletes and bodybuilders, the recommended protein intake increases dramatically, to 1 – 1.5 grams per pound (not kilogram) of body mass. For eons, whey has been the staple in a strength athlete’s protein arsenal. We suggest you consider adding micellar casein to your regimen, specifically at bedtime. We also suggest a blended protein with fast-digesting whey, a medium-release egg or soy protein, and slower absorbing micellar casein post-workout. This blended combination provides a sustained release of amino acids to the muscle extending protein synthesis.
- Creatine – the most studied sports performance supplement of all time. We recommend either monohydrate or HCL (Hydrochloride), both pre-and post-workout.
- Beta-Alanine – an amino acid that buffers lactic acid to promote endurance, muscle strength, and power, allowing for more sets and more reps.
- BCAAs – branched-chain amino acids, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. Required for protein synthesis and allow you to train with greater intensity for longer periods. Excellent as a pre-or intra-workout. A typical dosage would be 5-6 grams in the established 2:1:1 ratio of leucine to isoleucine and valine.
- Caffeine – a stimulant for energy, cognitive function, and to enhance exercise performance.
- Citrulline Malate – is an amino acid closely related to arginine, increasing NO nitric oxide production for vasodilation.
- L-Glutamine – is the most prevalent amino acid in the body, key to recovery, gut health, and alleviating DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
The list of supplements for the strength athlete and bodybuilder could go on indefinitely. The above are our choices of the best ingredients for value and effectiveness. The good news is that many of these ingredients come in pre-workout, intra-workout, or post-workout products, so they need not be sourced individually.
Additional Considerations as You Reach Forty
It may be hard to imagine, but the first millennials turn forty in 2021 (born between 1981 – 1996). As such, it’s time for them to start thinking about their health and aging gracefully. From Donald Justice, titled, “Men at Forty,”
“And deep in mirrors they rediscover the face of the boy as he practices tying his father’s tie there in secret, and the face of that father, still warm with the mystery of lather. They are more fathers than sons themselves now.”
More fathers than sons themselves now – children, mortgages, careers, stress, and less time for working out and playing weekend warrior. Although forty is still a young man its time to consider the following supplements to extend that youthful vitality:
- Vitamin D and Calcium – for healthy bones.
- B12 – for blood and nerve cells.
- CoQ10 – for its wide range of health benefits, natural levels decline with age.
- Saw Palmetto – reduces inflammation – supports prostate health.
Supplements for Men – On Turning Fifty
Well, you’ve made it the first 18,250 days of your life; congratulations. Over the past half-century, your body has been changing. As we approach our fiftieth, many men start to notice those changes that have gradually been occurring:
- Loss of muscle mass
- More weight around the midsection
- Thinning and graying hair
- The need for reading glasses
- Wrinkled skin
Here are some supplements you may wish to incorporate into your regimen as you reach this important milestone:
- Ginkgo Biloba – for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to improve circulation.
- Selenium – an essential mineral with antioxidant properties, good for mental and cardiovascular health, supports the immune system.
- Acetyl L-Carnitine – you will also see L-Carnitine in our weight loss segment. Acetyl L-Carnitine is the most efficient form of Carnitine to prevent neurogenerative disease.
Supplement Regimen for Athletes 60 and Over
Sixty may be the new forty, but if you wish to enjoy this time of your life and remain healthy, vibrant, and active, and perhaps even a bit competitive, it’s time to supplement. The following is a comprehensive regimen designed to support the aging athlete (in addition to the Base Plan):
- Antioxidants/Anti-Inflammatories – to prevent free radical damage and chronic low-level inflammation – Resveratrol, Astaxanthin, Quercetin, Alpha-Lipoic Acid
- CoQ 10
- Protein – to prevent the onset of sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss). As with the strength athlete, we recommend a blended protein (including micellar casein) to extend protein synthesis and prevent catabolism.
- Pre-Intra-Post Workout Components:
- Arginine or Citrulline Malate
- ZMA – a combination of zinc, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6, improves sleep, muscle recovery, and the release of testosterone and IGF-I.
- Testosterone and GH Support – more on these in the hormonal support segment.
Although the above may appear to be quite extensive, it’s important to note that most of these ingredients will appear in three-four products:
- A Pre, Intra, or Post-workout
- An Antioxidant/Anti-Inflammatory product
- Blended Protein Powder
- Male Support Product / Testosterone Support
Other Condition-Specific Recommendations
The Base Plan is vital when dieting as it’s easy to eliminate or reduce essential nutrients. An effective weight loss program will feature a healthy eating plan, a solid training program, and these condition-specific supplements for weight loss:
- Caffeine – energy, metabolic rate, and fat release.
- Green Tea Extract – to increase metabolism and release fat.
- L-Carnitine – for fat burning.
- L-Tyrosine – for mood, mental focus, especially in combination with caffeine
- Cayenne Pepper Extract – for satiety, to boost your metabolism and burn calories.
Many branded weight-loss products will contain most, if not all, the above ingredients. For weight loss aids, in particular, it’s important to seek products that are manufactured in a cGMP facility, have independent third-party quality assurance testing, are certified as safe by NSF, Informed Choice, or another body, and do not feature proprietary blends. With potent ingredients, such as those listed above, you want to know each component’s precise dosage.
Joint Health Issues
Joint health issues can be one of the most debilitating problems an individual, particularly an athlete, can encounter. Nearly one-quarter of all adults experience some form of arthritis and joint pain, with knees, hips, and shoulders being the most frequent problem areas. Below are the most researched supplements to address joint and inflammation issues:
- Glucosamine Sulfate
- MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)
- Hyaluronic Acid
Testosterone is the male hormone. Although hormone production begins to taper off during our twenties, the effects are often not felt until later in life when hormone levels have declined to the point that our function is noticeably affected. For the aging male looking to boost testosterone levels, you have options; HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), Male Anti-Aging clinics, or those seeking a more natural approach, supplementation. To your base program, you may want to add the following ingredients to optimize your natural production of testosterone:
- Eurycoma Longifolia Extract
- Tribulus Terrestris
- D-Aspartic Acid
Once again, a comprehensive, branded male testosterone support supplement will contain many of these components in a single product.
In Summary: Supplements For Men
The key to any supplement regimen is personalization. No one will use every product or ingredient in this Best Of article. We suggest you address your needs, possible deficiencies, goals, and objectives and test the concepts and supplements in this article. Consider yourself a laboratory of one. Be scientific in your approach, adding a single product (which may incorporate several of the above ingredients) at a time. Monitor your results, appraise your progress, and then move on to the next product. Over time you will develop your best regimen to aid you in meeting your aspirations.
Bonus Section – Best Brands in Each Supplement Space
To aid you in developing your best regimen, we provide the following list of brands (and in some instances, products) to consider when selecting supplements in each supplement space:
- Multivitamin/Mineral – Universal Nutrition Animal Stacks / Garden of Life
- Whey Protein – Dymatize Elite Whey / Optimum Nutrition
- EFAs – Nordic Naturals
- Probiotics – Gundry MD / Renew Life
- Vitamin D3 – Now Nutrition / Life Extension
- Vitamin C – EmergenC / Nature’s Bounty
- Zinc – Thorne Research
Supplements for Endurance Athletes
- Electrolytes – Nuun / Fit Aid
Supplements for Strength Athletes
- Protein – ProJYM / Max Pro from Max Muscle
- Pre-workout – C4 from Cellucor / NO X-Plode from BSN / PreJYM
- Intra-Workout – Xtend from Scivation
- Post-Workout – Cellmass from BSN
Supplements for Weight Loss
- Thermogenic – Hydroxycut from Muscle Tech / Super HD from Cellucor
Supplements for Joint Support
- Joint Support – Osteo BiFlex / Move Free / OsteoMD
Supplements for Hormonal Support
- Testosterone Booster – M Drive / AlphaJYM