Myles Spar, MD, MPH
No matter how young we feel on the inside or even look on the outside, our bodies are aging every day. It's a natural process, of course, but there is a lot we can do to influence how our bodies age.
Many factors, such as exercise, diet, sleep and genetics, impact your biological age — that is, how old your body acts, regardless of your chronological age. With the right mix of healthy lifestyle adjustments, you can slow down the biological aging process on your cells and organs, and keep those stereotypical aging tropes (think: aches, pains, wrinkles, sagging skin, inflammation, disease) at bay.
As a functional medicine doctor, I know firshand how big of a role food plays in living a long and healthy life. Giving your body the nutrients it needs is pivotal to keeping all of its systems running smoothly. In an ideal world, you'd get those nutrients from food, but filling up your plates with all the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients is not always possible — even for the most health-conscious of people.
That’s where supplements come in; they round out your nutritional needs with targeted support.
Below, my top nine best anti-aging supplements for men to help you maintain your youthful vigor inside and out.
Remember: These supplements are general recommendations. It’s important to check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your routine and to find out the dosage that’s right for you. Consider consulting a functional medicine doctor who seeks to address the root cause of health issues, and who can offer genetic testing to give you a better understanding of your individual health. That way, you’ll have a targeted approach to supplementation. Also, since supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, look out for third-party certifications from ConsumerLab.com, NSF International and US Pharmacopeia, which test for quality and contamination.
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When it comes to key nutrients for men’s health, zinc is at the top of the list. This essential trace mineral plays a role in immune function, cell division, wound healing and more. Our bodies, however, do not naturally make zinc, which is why it’s an important supplement to take. Additionally, zinc helps the body create testosterone, so when zinc levels fall too low, testosterone levels can also dip, potentially leading to hypogonadism (the failure of the gonads to function properly and produce enough testosterone).
Research suggests supplementing with zinc can modulate testosterone levels as well as help with sexual competency and erectile dysfunction. Zinc supplementation may also help combat immunosenescence or the age-related changes in immune cells that can lead to inflammation and increased infection risk. Research demonstrates that zinc is also critical for overall prostate health, protecting against tumor development.
Recommended dose: 20 milligrams daily
Collagen is a protein that’s found in your connective tissue, bones and muscles. As you age, the collagen in your skin starts to deteriorate, and you lose some of your skin’s elasticity — hence sagging, wrinkles and other age-related changes. However, research shows that taking collagen as a supplement can help combat some of these effects. In one study, oral collagen peptide supplementation significantly increased skin hydration and collagen density — both of which can help promote plumpness — among other anti-aging effects.
In addition to keeping skin and joints healthy, collagen may also help prevent Alzheimer’s. Recent research suggests a specific collagen — collagen VI — can protect brain cells against amyloid-beta (Aβ) proteins associated with the disease.
Recommended dose: A powder mix of collagen with types I, III and VI for a total of 10 grams a day
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L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea, which can offer anxiety and stress relief by supporting GABA, the neurotransmitter in your brain responsible for relaxation. GABA helps counter the over-stimulating effects of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Because stress causes inflammation and can speed up the aging effects on the body, it’s important to counter the stress response within the body. L-Theanine helps do just that, protecting the body and brain from unhealthy aging in the process.
L-theanine is also helpful for sleep. If you feel particularly wired at night and have a hard time sleeping due to overstimulation, L-Theanine can help downregulate your system so you can fall asleep.
Recommended dose: 300-400 milligrams about an hour before bedtime as needed
Multivitamins are a convenient way to get a lot of essential nutrients that are vital to overall health in one supplement. For example, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene (which converts into vitamin A in the body) are all important antioxidants, which work at a cellular level to protect against damage done by free radicals (unstable atoms that cause cellular damage). Overtime, a build up of free radicals in the body can create oxidative stress, which has been linked to chronic illness and disease. This is, of course, only one benefit of these micronutrients; there are countless others, too!
Recommended dose: Depending on the product's instructions, take one pill daily. I typically recommend a food-based one (such as the men’s multivitamin from New Chapter) because they're more bioavailable (aka better absorbed) and can be taken more easily on an empty stomach. Also, unless you have a history of anemia, guys don’t generally need iron, so look for a multivitamin without iron since too much iron can be damaging for your liver, pancreas and heart.
5 Fish Oil
One of the biggest benefits of fish oil — i.e. omega-3 fatty acids — is its impact on heart health. Studies show it can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure, which is important for reducing the risk factors of cardiovascular disease. The omega-3-fatty acids in fish oil known as EPA and DHA can improve blood flow by decreasing platelet aggregation (aka blood clots) and boost vitality of skin and hair. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, fish oil also reduces inflammation that can lead to many aging-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and countless others.
Recommended dose: 2,000 milligrams daily (when adding up the EPA and DHA totals)
Acetyl-L-carnitine is a form of L-carnitine, which is an amino acid that helps your body turn fat into energy. This is one of my favorite supplements for men because it improves your cells’ ability to make energy, translating to more vim and vigor for living your life — something we could all benefit from.
In addition, acetyl-L-carnitine can help you stay sharp as the years pass, especially since it's been shown to play a big role in neuroprotection (i.e. protecting your brain) and, according to animal studies, boost aged brain function. Other research has also demonstrated improvements in brain functions — particularly those related to short-term memory — in patients with with Alzheimer’s dementia.
Recommended dose: 1,000 milligrams daily
Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant made by the body and stored in the mitochondria (the energy production powerhouse) of your cells, which use it for growth and maintenance. But that’s not all: CoQ10 has also been shown to be particularly beneficial for improving the appearance of aging skin. In fact, a 2016 study found that adults who supplemented with 150 milligrams of the antioxidant for 12 weeks experienced a reduction of wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.
Recommended dose: 150 milligrams daily
Because inflammation is the main driver for almost every prevailing disease and health concern — such as heart disease, cancer, dementia, autoimmune disorders, arthritis — adding anti-inflammatory foods and supplements into your routine can help curb inflammation and benefit your entire body, from the inside out. Enter: turmeric, a golden spice that contains a powerful anti-inflammtory and antioxidant active constituent called curcumin.
A recent study revealed that turmeric may help reduce symptoms of arthritis — a problem that often plagues people as they get older. Patients with osteoarthritis in one or both knees took a turmeric formulation for 90 days and showed a 58 percent reduction in overall pain and stiffness compared to controls. They were also able to reduce their need for over-the-counter painkillers by 63 percent compared to patients on conventional medical therapy alone.
Recommended dose: 500 milligrams daily
Magnesium is one of the most important micronutrients inside cells, where it works to support enzymes that repair cellular damage (such as that caused by free radicals). It’s also a key factor in optimal mitochondrial function. Think of mitochondria as our natural batteries. Since they’re responsible for energy production within our cells, maintaining healthy magnesium levels contributes to overall physical and mental energy. It’s also instrumental for brain health as it supports neuronal recovery (aka healing the brain and spinal cord).
Magnesium is also great for recovery after a workout because it helps muscles relax. Not hitting the gym daily? No reason to write off magnesium entirely. As a general muscle relaxant, it can deliver some much-needed calm before bed without making you drowsy.
Recommended dose: The best kind of magnesium is magnesium L-threonate because it is more easily absorbed and isn’t as likely to cause gastrointestinal issues. Aim for 150 milligrams twice a day.