The prostate gland is an important part of the male reproductive system, and many men are looking for ways to improve their prostate health. Can supplements be part of the solution? Let’s take a look at the research.
The prostate gland produces and secretes thin alkaline fluid in the ejaculate. The prostate is tiny – about the size of a walnut – but its location just below the bladder, in front of the rectum, and wrapped around the urethra, is critical. An increase in its size can disrupt the flow of urine and ejaculation. There is no self-examination for prostate health, so those with prostates should talk to their health care provider about it, especially if there is family history.
There is no magic bullet to ensure prostate health, but a healthy lifestyle is pretty unanimously recommended as a starting point. One study found that increased regular exercise, dietary modifications, and nutritional supplementation favorably influenced prostate health. Other research found several benefits to the use of vitamin D in those with prospect issues. Clinical studies reporting positive results are plentiful, but it is important that you check with your healthcare professional before you begin taking prostate health supplements.
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble nutrient that is associated with benefits like improved immune health, bone health, and overall well-being. The prostate gland has receptors for vitamin D so it may be important for prostate health. Research findings indicate that the correlation between lack of sun exposure or vitamin D deficiency and the increase of prostate issues with aggressive progression indicate that adequate vitamin D nutrition should be a priority for all persons-with-prostates of all ages.
Dairy-derived calcium may not be supportive of prostate health. According to this study, high calcium intake may have a strong impact on prostate issues. Another study showed increased risk of prostate disease with high intakes of total dairy products. There are not many studies presently investigating the relationship between calcium and prostate function. Consult with your physician for your own best course of action.
Beta-sitosterol is an herbal supplement that contains sitosterols, one of the main subcomponents of a group of plant sterols known as phytosterols. Sitosterols are very similar in composition to cholesterol and have antioxidant properties. They can be found in rice bran, wheat germ, peanuts, corn oil, olive oil, walnuts, raw almonds, avocados, and soybeans. High levels are also found in botanicals such as saw palmetto, ryegrass pollen, pygeum, and stinging nettles, which have been found to be beneficial for prostate health. Beta-sitosterol is one of the many reasons that eating vegetables is good for your health. Studies have demonstrated its potential for prostate health and its overall lack of side effects.
Ryegrass pollen is an extract that is packed with 21 amino acids, enzymes, and a high concentration of sterols. It also contains minerals, some trace elements, and all of the essential vitamins. It’s been used for over 35 years and those with prostate issues report a better quality of life, especially when combined with medical treatment. It is extremely well tolerated and safe to use.
Saw palmetto is a dietary supplement made from the Serenoa repens fruit native to Florida. The palmetto plant was originally used by Native Americans to treat a number of ailments including indigestion, respiratory, and urinary issues. It also proved helpful as a sleep aid and a diuretic. Saw palmetto is often recommended to improve prostate health and urinary functionand even enhance hair growth. As if that’s not enough, the popular supplement has been touted as a libido booster and fertility aid. One study concluded that saw palmetto extract has therapeutic potential, though its efficacy is inconsistent in part due to the lack of standardization of its formula. Other studies report mixed results. Additional research is needed.
Selenium is an essential mineral that plays an important role in thyroid function, metabolism, and combating damage from oxidative stress. It also boosts your immune system and has been reported to help with age-related cognitive decline. There’s not much data on its direct impact on prostate health, more clinical research is needed. The best source of this powerful antioxidant is food. Some of the best options are oysters, fatty fish, shellfish, Brazil nuts, walnuts, chicken breasts, and mushrooms. The body only needs a small amount of selenium and that can usually be attained with a healthy, varied diet. If you intend to supplement, it is important to be aware of the possibility of overconsumption of this mineral. Check with your healthcare provider.
Green tea extract contains green tea catechins that are known to be powerful antioxidants. There are also studies that show green tea extract can influence hormone levels such as testosterone and DHT, which directly impact the prostate. Regular supplementing with green tea has been shown to lead to improvement in urine flow and improvement in quality of life. It can also manage PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels, a lab marker that can be used to track prostate health over time.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil. The popular supplement has numerous beneficial properties and has been proven to be beneficial to cardiovascular health, eye health, and cognitive health. Its impact on prostate health is not clear, however. More clinical research is needed. If you want to include Omega-3s in your daily protocol, consult your physician for your best options.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in most red and pink foods. It is also found concentrated in the prostate. Studies show that lycopene can inhibit growth of normal human prostate epithelial cells in vitro. There is evidence to suggest that people with prostates who eat more tomatoes tend to have fewer issues than those who don’t, though more clinical research is definitely needed. The best way to increase the amount of lycopene in your body is through diet. Sun-dried tomatoes pack the most wallop in terms of lycopene content, though tomato puree, fresh cooked tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, and cooked sweet red peppers are also great sources. Lycopene is tightly wound to the walls of fresh tomatoes so it is always best to cook them. Lycopene is also available in supplement form. Consult your physician before adding it to your regimen as it may interfere with blood pressure medications and some blood thinners.
Pumpkin seeds are a powerful, nutrient dense antioxidant that have been linked to health benefits like improved heart health, blood sugar levels, fertility, sleep, energy level, mood, and immune function. They may also help with overactive bladders. Pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc, which is important to normal prostate function. And they’re easy to add to your diet, though high in fiber so don’t overdo it. Many doctors recommend just a handful a day to start reaping the benefits. Pumpkin seed oil is an excellent alternative.
Zinc is an essential mineral that has been found in prostate tissue. There is a connection seen with low zinc levels in those with prostate issues. Zinc is an important constituent of prostatic fluid and is known to play an important role in the development and normal functioning of the prostate. Adequate amounts of zinc can typically be found in a varied, healthy diet that includes fresh vegetables, chicken, red meat, fortified grains, and breakfast cereals. Supplements are readily available in capsule form or lozenges.
One of the best ways to maintain a healthy prostate is a healthy lifestyle. Eat a diet filled with fresh fruit and vegetables (especially bright colors), lean meats, fish, walnuts, avocados, almonds, whole grains, and fortified breakfast cereals. Limit processed foods, sugar, excess sodium, and packaged foods. Drink plenty of water and don’t forget to exercise.
Prostate-related issues are not uncommon as people age. Maintaining prostate health now may lower your risk of serious problems later on. A healthy lifestyle is key. As for supplementation, opinions vary and some clinical data is inconclusive. Always check with your physician before taking supplements for prostate health. Most importantly, get screened regularly.