As a man, certain aspects of your health can be expected to deteriorate with age. Prostate health is one of those concerns that most men, if they live long enough, will have to address. Sexual health and function can also be a concern in general or as one begins to age. Fortunately, there are some key ingredients that have been shown to play significant roles in these areas of prostate health and sexual function working through a variety of mechanisms of action: these are saw palmetto, zinc, schizandra, Pycnogenol® and arginine.
With regards to prostate health, saw palmetto extract has traditionally been used and clinically researched for a variety of indications related to the promotion of prostate health, primarily for its effects on benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Studies have shown it helps to reduce the symptoms associated with prostate issues such as frequent and painful urination. It is suggested that saw palmetto inhibits an enzyme known to convert testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT plays an active role in the development and worsening of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), as well as prostate cancer, by enlarging the prostate gland. Other research also suggests saw palmetto induces cell death (apoptosis) in unhealthy cells by inhibiting growth factors that may cause excessive growth of prostate cells. Additionally, saw palmetto has effects of promoting a normal inflammatory response by inhibiting enzymes that promote inflammation.
Zinc is an essential mineral that actually has effects in both prostate and sexual health. As most are aware, zinc is found in every cell of the body and is an essential part of nearly 300 different biochemical pathways. In addition to its multiple functions in the body, zinc accumulates higher in prostate tissue than in any other soft tissue. It protects prostate cells from the negative effects of free radicals and is critical in maintaining the cellular health within the prostate. Zinc is important in the protection and repair of DNA, which also protects prostate cells from genetic changes that could promote the occurrence of cancerous tissues. Low zinc levels have been associated with the development and progression of prostate cancer. Zinc works as an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent. Zinc also plays a role in in testosterone physiology, a critical hormone for men’s health. With age, testosterone levels decline so supplementing with zinc is very important. Zinc is also associated with male fertility and clinical research suggests low levels are associated with a lower sperm count and decreased sperm motility. Supplementation with zinc was shown to improve these parameters and help with maintaining a normal sperm count.
Schizandra, also known as wu-wei-zi or spelled as schisandra, is an adaptogenic herb with a long history of use in ancient Chinese medicine for promoting general well-being and enhancing vitality. In addition to its traditional use of helping the body adapt to stress and promoting energy, schizandra has historically been taken to promote sexual health. It’s suggested that schizandra promotes healthy levels of nitric oxide, an important factor for increased blood flow, which plays a substantial role in erection physiology. Other health effects such as enhancing physical performance and promoting strength have also been shown for schizandra.
Pycnogenol®, a standardized pine bark extract, and arginine, an amino acid, have been shown to work synergistically for optimizing sexual health in men and helping to maintain a healthy erection. Erection health is largely dependent on adequate blood flow which is facilitated by nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide is a gas that enhances smooth muscle relaxation and blood flow. There is substantial research to support arginine’s function in alleviating male impotence as it stimulates the production of nitric oxide and improves blood flow. Arginine has also been shown to increase sperm count, as well as sperm motility. Pycnogenol was shown to reduce the severity of male impotence from moderate to mild as well as restore the ability to maintain a healthy erection. One study found supplementation with arginine and Pycnogenol for 3 months caused a significant improvement allowing 92.5% of the men with erectile dysfunction to experience a normal erection without any side effects. Another study found Pycnogenol to have a beneficial effect on treatment of erectile dysfunction.
One cannot stop the aging process or the detrimental effects on the prostate and sexual health that are a part of it. Luckily, there are clinically studied nutrients that have been proven as key factors in maintaining optimal prostate health and sexual vitality and function for men.