With preventative daily health routines becoming more widely practiced, even men, who have lagged behind women in regard to personal health, are joining in.
According to a recent Men’s Health Network and Abbott national survey of more than 2,000 men, 52 percent said they usually see a doctor when something needs to be “fixed,” and the majority (63 percent) report that prolonged, severe pain is the main “breaking point” for when they will visit the doctor—bleeding, vomiting or itching alone won’t drive most men to see a doctor.
While that may be the case in general, the natural products industry reports it’s seeing growth in the men’s health category, and that men are seeking natural alternatives to protect their health.
“The market for men’s health products is stronger than ever,” said Rafael Avila, manager of research and development with Nature’s Plus in New York.“As the general public continues to become more health aware, the market Continues to grow and produce new innovative ideas. With the surge in people reaching their mid to late 60s, there is an increase of men seeking to prolong youthful health well into their retirement years. Safe and natural supplements are a great way to help them achieve this.”
“The market is continuing to see an increasing trend of men actively seeking out products for overall well-being and Looking for natural solutions to traditional pharmaceuticals,” agreed Ulrich Urgens, executive vice president Americas/international business director with Swisse Wellness in Illinois. “We see men educating themselves on natural, evidence-based products that nourish and protect their bodies.”
Retailer Ann Bonanno, a sales associate for 14 years with Campbell’s Nutrition in Des Moines, IA, elaborated: “There’s the sort of men that don’t want to take anything, and then there are the proactive types. More men are becoming interested in taking charge of their health,” she reported. “I’ve seen that change—more men are seeking a healthy lifestyle. If they try a product that’s well made and they feel a difference, they will try other products, too.They are becoming open and more informed.” She added that food and pharmaceutical product scares are at the root of the growing number of people seeking natural alternatives in general— and that includes men.
General Manager Steve Walton with Florida-based HealthFocus International pointed out that men are quite different when it comes to what influences their purchase decisions. “Women tend to be much more concerned about what ingredients make up a product, while men are more influenced by what the product will provide—for example: improved physical performance.”
Overall, acceptance of natural products by men is promising a bright future for the category. “Quite simply, men are becoming more involved in all aspects of raising a family, maintaining a household and shopping—for themselves or for their family,” Walton said. “Yet, the majority of products are promoted to women. There is an opportunity to reach out to this growing shopper demographic by speaking their language and addressing their specific health concerns.”
One way manufacturers can achieve that goal is to keep in mind that technology Brings ingredient information to consumers’ fingertips, and specific ingredients are increasingly deciding factors for or against purchase, noted Urgens. “With the proliferation of smart phones and research at the point of purchase, manufacturers should anticipate consumers having an increased awareness of ingredients and the research behind them.”
What Ails Men
Multivitamins have long been a go-to product for men, but more men are seeking out additional products for specific benefits, including heart health, joint health, intestinal health and liver health, among others, said Urgens. Walter added that men are affected by diabetes and cardiovascular disease to a greater degree than women.
“Prostate health, sexual health and weight loss are certainly some of the more pressing concerns men seek help for when turning to supplements,” said Nature’s Plus’ Avila. “Men also seek help for general health and wellness, as well as in areas such as cardiovascular, muscle, bone and heart support.Further, men also want to achieve lean muscle and improved energy.”
In addition, circulation is a common condition with which men seek assistance as poor blood flow can be an underlying cause of a number of issues including blood clots or cramping from athletic activity, said Sébastien Bornet, director of global marketing with Horphag Research based in Switzerland with U.S. offices in New Jersey. “A multipurpose antioxidant such as Horphag’s Pycnogenol, extract from the bark of the French maritime, gets more for your money as it aids a mix of conditions with just one supplement,” he said.
Retailer Victoria King, sales associate with Alpenglow Natural Foods in Casper, WY, said she found that men’s health concerns are often hormonal balance and digestive issues. She also sees men concerned about adrenal function and energy, prostate, cardiovascular, cholesterol and, most recently, blood sugar.
While men might at first be hesitant to come into the store—“It’s not their thing,” she explained—once King speaks with them, they are interested In scientific knowledge and how the product works.
Swisse, the maker of the No.1-selling multivitamin in Australia, now sold in the U.S., also offers Swisse Men’s Ultivite F1. “In theory, we should be eating a healthy diet to absorb our bodies’ necessary nutrients, however, that is not often the case,” said Urgens.“Many times, life gets in the way of proper nutrition, and alcohol and caffeine actively deplete necessary nutrients.” The Men’s Ultivite F1 contains a premium quality blend of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and herbs that help to support men’s nutritional needs and general well-being.
Other products Swisse offers for men are: Ultiboost Wild Krill Oil, which delivers omega-3 fatty acids with a potent antioxidant that helps to combat free radical damage, supporting cardiovascular and joint health; Swisse Ultiboost Liver Detox, which contains milk thistle, artichoke and turmeric, natural ingredients that aid detoxification and help support the liver; Swisse Ultiboost Inner Balance contains premium quality probiotic strains to help support intestinal health, digestive function and inner well-being; and Swisse Ultiboost Co-Enzyme Q10 helps maintain cardiovascular health and healthy cholesterol levels.
Nature’s Plus also offers a variety of men’s health products, noted Avila.Specifically for men, the product line of T Male, Ultra T Male, GH Male and GHT Male helps support healthy and natural testosterone production, while safely boosting human growth hormone production naturally. The company’s latest addition for men is the AgeLoss product line, which provides a revolutionary way of supporting healthy living in men, she said.
At Campbell’s Nutrition, Bonnano said the T Male and GHT Male products are top sellers in the category and have really made a difference for men, “because they work. Men are feeling the benefits.” Another important men’s product is New Chapter’s Prostate 5LX, which provides good results for Prostate and inflammation, she said.
As for sexual health, Ruth Moran, co-owner of Ohiobased Libido Edge Labs, LLC, pointed out that many men see commercials on television for various drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, etc., but also see the side effects associated with those drugs. “Some men look for a healthier alternative with natural products,” she said, noting that the company manufacturers TestaEdge for Men, Libido Edge Capsules and Good Health Complex.
DreamBrand’s Mdrive has been another sexual health category leader for the last four years, especially for Men over 40, said Michael Kehoe, senior marketing and brand manager with the Arizona-based company.“For younger men, MusclePharm seems to dominate,” he said. “For men, the important issues include energy, testosterone support and sex drive. Mdrive addresses all three.”
Men also appreciate a choice of delivery innovations.
“Capsules and tablets are the main delivery forms. But powders, gummies and liquids are becoming important as well, depending on what ingredients you are delivering. High levels of ingredients like whey protein cannot Be delivered in a capsule or tablet form,” Kehoe noted.
At Libido Edge, Moran said Tribulus terestris, DHEA and horny goat weed all still remain very popular.
As a newcomer to the states, Urgens observed, “Everyone is talking about omega-3s. It seems that many consumers in America are just discovering the benefits of these fatty acids,” he said. “In Australia, both fish oil and krill oil have been widely used and understood.”
He noted that both fatty acids are essential for good heart health and combatting bad cholesterol, but there are differences between the two.“Higher amounts of astaxanthin, a powerful immune supporting antioxidant, can be found in krill oil. When comparing absorption, the omega-3 in krill oil is better absorbed into the body than the omega-3 from fish oil,” said Urgens. “A major difference between the two comes down to the source. Krill oil comes from shellfish and an example of this is Swisse Ultiboost Wild Krill Oil, which is sourced sustainably from the Southern Ocean and is extracted from Antarctic krill, the most abundant marine biomass.Fish oil comes from cold water wild fish and is the preferred option for those who have shellfish allergies.”
Seeking out a “revolutionary” concept, Avila said Nature’s Plus AgeLoss line’s unique Rejuvabolic and First Day Anti-Aging Systems and its complementary targeted formulas, have no competition anywhere. “Nature’s Plus is the first in the industry to develop a line of products that address the free radicals that are most aggressive in each tissue or system, with the unprecedented power of antioxidants targeted to counter those specific free radicals,” Avila explained. “AgeLoss formulations build upon this advanced nutritional approach with specialized Nutrients that support healthy control of inflammatory messengers at the molecular level. These two approaches promote anabolic renewal and growth while countering the catabolic destruction that plagues the aging processes throughout the body. These products are a perfect fit for the man looking to support or revitalize his lifestyle.”
Nature’s Plus delivers men’s products in all different forms, Avila noted.“Capsules, tablets, bi-layer tablets and even liquids. We’ve got it all covered.”
Most manufacturers are still hung up on the older fields of research that attempt to make sense of theoretical advantages of unknown factors in various nutrients, Avila noted. “Given the advanced state of antioxidant and nutrition science, we find it amazing that many other brands still believe that all free radicals are the same and that any old antioxidant will be effective against any free radical. With the latest science, Nature’s Plus has forged a new path in nutrition science. We look at state-ofthe- art science of tissue-specific free radicals and inflammatory messengers, and then carefully select nutrients where scientific studies show an ability to counter those free radicals and inflammatory messengers.”
For example, Avila explained, if the company sees that the predominance of academic research implicates the peroxynitrite free radical as a major inhibitor of male hormone production, then it chooses antioxidants shown to counter that free radical for its testosterone-boosting supplements. “And we use a similar approach to find optimal nutrients to address the most aggressive, health-robbing inflammatory messengers.”
Horphag’s Bornet added that manufacturers are looking into the science of ingredients that back a number of benefits.“For example, a recent study found Pycnogenol to improve all five risk factors of metabolic syndrome with supplementation of just one product.With just one simple, natural solution, the results showed the supplement to be effective in reducing waistline obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar and improving heart health.”
Marketing & Retail Assistance
Ingredient names such as B12, turmeric or valerian root can be cumbersome for consumers. Swisse planned an easier approach by naming products after a clearly defined benefit. “When a consumer sees a product named Liver Detox, Hair Skin Nails, Sleep or Mood, they instantly know that they have found what they were searching for,” Urgens explained. “This is beneficial to the retailer as it eases the shopping experience for the consumer, who will likely then be a returning customer.”
Nature’s Plus maintains that retailers can best aid their male customers by educating them about how free radicals can affect the body and the value of specifically targeted antioxidants, said Avila. “A great place to start is introducing their customers to the AgeLoss line. There is a specific AgeLoss product for everyone—whether it be the Men’s Multi, First day or a more specified product such as hair, joint support and so many more.”
But marketing correctly can prove difficult, Libido Edge’s Moran admitted. “Depending on the type of product and the claims that are made on it, it could be borderline and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can assume you are making a health claim. There are many companies that make claims that are not allowed by the FDA.”
DreamBrand’s Kehoe agreed, noting that the biggest challenge is the everchanging regulatory scrutiny that is evolving in the industry. “We need to be extremely careful how benefits are presented in marketing materials and labeling. Detailed sales and marketing materials explaining how the product can impact men’s health and how the products work, as well as training of retailers, is key to helping them talk confidently to the consumer and ultimately selling the product.”
However, Walton summed up his advice succinctly: “Make sure you understand your target consumer. Don’t patronize men; rather than using gender as the differentiating factor, focus on the benefits of the product.”
Clarifying Fish Oil & Prostate Health Confusion
The recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that linked fish oil supplements and prostate cancer has left consumers, as well as natural products retailers, bewildered. What should one do?
“The researchers were quick to blame dietary supplements, even though there is no evidence that anyone in this study consumed fish or fish oils from dietary supplements,” noted Dr. Geo Espinosa, XY Wellness cofounder and product formulator, and a recognized expert in men’s urological conditions, who cuts through the fish oil confusion in his latest blog post.
First, Espinosa explained what not to do:
• Do not consume fried fish, as regular ingestion of fried fish was associated with a 32 percent increased risk for prostate cancer.
• Do not consume fish or fish oils high in environmental chemicals that can contribute to prostate cancer such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heavy metals and other toxic chemicals.
• Do not eat fish high in mercury, including: shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish (sometimes called golden bass or golden snapper).
• Do not listen to the media for health advice.
Then understand what to do:
• Eat one to two 3-oz. Servings of fatty fish a week— salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies or sardines.
• PCBs collect in the fatty parts of fish. You can take these steps to reduce PCB risks when cooking salmon, bluefish and other fatty fish:
– Trim away fatty areas such as the belly, top of the back and dark meat along the side.
– Remove or puncture the skin before cooking to allow fat to drain off.
– Broil or steam the fish on a rack to allow fat to drain.
– Throw away fat drippings. Don’t use them in other cooking.
– Limit consumption of farmedraised fish.
• Wild salmon is low in mercury and PCB’s, but a little more pricey.
• Consume high quality fish oil supplements from reputable manufacturers.
“It is always worth pointing out that fish oils combined with a poor diet Does not improve your prognosis,” Espinosa added. “Alternatively, fish oils combined with a good plantbased diet and daily exercise will significantly help you rebuild your health and reduce your risk of all-cause mortality.”
Lastly, Espinosa stressed, “Do not be misled by faulty research and sensationalized headlines. Be smart and be choosy on which sources of information you trust (or even pay attention to these days). It can be exhausting to wade through the noise, but it is critical to your health and well-being that you do so.”
For more information, visit www.drgeo.com