Man taking a prostate supplement

Prostate Supplements: Do They Actually Work?

Men and women undeniably have unique health needs. While women of a certain age may be focused on menopause and other common aged-related changes, men's health is a whole other ballpark. They, too, have aspects of their health that they should focus on as they age.

Enter prostate health. An often-overlooked aspect of men's health, the prostate changes on both the physical and cellular level with normal aging and keeping it healthy is essential for supporting your best health, and your quality of life as well. It's never too early to be proactive about maintaining optimal prostate health with a healthy lifestyle and effective supplements.

What are prostate supplements? How do they work?

The prostate gland is a small, walnut-sized male reproductive gland that is located just below the bladder. Prostate supplements are designed to support the prostate in a few key ways:

  1. Promote normal prostate size
  2. Promote normal prostate function
  3. Promote optimal bladder and urinary health—this means healthy urination patterns and flow
  4. Promote healthy cellular reproduction

Choosing supplements can be tricky to navigate, so how do you find which formulas will support the prostate in these four ways? The key is to look at the label. There are a few nutrients in particular you'll need to support all of these functions—and if a supplement doesn't include them, it's probably not going to give you the results you're seeking. So what are those supplements? Let's dive in.

9 Best Nutrients for Prostate Support

While the vitamins and other nutrients you may find in men's health supplements offer various benefits, there are some common ingredients that are found in most prostate health supplements that support the prostate in specific ways.

1. Saw palmetto

—When you think of an ingredient for prostate health, saw palmetto is probably one of the first that comes to mind. Saw palmetto extract, otherwise known as Serenoa repens, is a palm rich in the bioactive compound beta-sitosterol. Historically, Native Americans used the fruit of Serenoa repens to support urinary and reproductive health. Saw palmetto's benefits have been reaffirmed in recent studies, particularly focusing on the impact standardized fatty acid extracts of saw palmetto have on prostate hormone health, promoting a healthy inflammatory response and supporting healthy prostate size.

Don't overlook saw palmetto's other benefits, however! Typically available in softgels or capsules, saw palmetto helps support healthy dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels, a hormone involved in the last phase of the hair growth cycle. Since too much DHT isn't good for hair growth, taking saw palmetto to support these healthy levels has become popular among those looking to maintain youthful locks. Since DHT is a derivative of testosterone, saw palmetto may also promote healthy testosterone levels, a key component of prostate health. Saw palmetto is often formulated into an optimized comprehensive prostate formula. (Saw palmetto is one of the main ingredients in Ultra Prostate Formula.)

2. Pygeum

—Pygeum, or Pygeum africanum, comes from the bark of an African cherry tree and is another prostate health superstar. Like saw palmetto, it also contains beta-sitosterol, and supports healthy urination patterns in men. Pygeum africanum is also known for inhibiting inflammatory factors to promote prostate health, with other research even suggesting it may support prostate cell health.

3. Beta-sitosterol

—Beta-sitosterol's reputation precedes it as a good-for-you prostate health supplement, and is found in other prostate nutrients like saw palmetto and pygeum. But why is this compound so good for you? Beyond supporting already-healthy cholesterol levels, this plant sterol, often derived from pine, has an important role in helping maintain healthy prostate size. Beta-sitosterol and saw palmetto are often paired together in formulas as a power combo to promote healthy urine flow and comfort.

4. Pumpkin seed

—Pumpkin seeds aren't just a fabulous fall flavor. While their benefits are numerous, pumpkin seeds have a well-deserved reputation for their whole-body health benefits. With their healthy fiber content and a panoply of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids, pumpkin seeds are a much loved nutrient food. But their primary benefit for men is maintaining urinary health and flow. In fact, one placebo-controlled study of around 1,400 men found that those who received pumpkin seed extract capsules over a period of 12 months experienced a greater improvement in urinary comfort when compared to men who received placebo.

5. Nettle root

—Nettle root, aka Urtica dioica, also known as stinging nettle, is a common plant with a long history of use in traditional health regimens and as a cooked vegetable. While not palm-like in appearance, this plant does have something in common with saw palmetto: its potential to positively impact prostate health. Nettle root has also been clinically studied to help men maintain normal urinary health patterns.

6. Flax seed

Flax seed is known for supporting healthy hormone metabolism, an important aspect of prostate health. Flax seed lignans can be converted into enterolactone, a phytoestrogen that supports both hormone metabolism and healthy prostate cell division. These properties are shared by Norway spruce lignans.

7. Rye pollen extract

Specific concentrated pollen extracts have been associated with prostate health, particularly rye pollen extract. Rye pollen extract is best known for promoting a healthy inflammatory response, but further evidence suggests that it can help support prostate comfort and healthy urinary function, making it a great supplement for men at any age to take proactively.

8. Lycopene

Lycopene is a carotenoid that is most famous for giving tomatoes their red color. Carotenoids like lycopene are a great option for maintaining whole-body health due to their potent antioxidant properties, but it is especially important for men to include lycopene in their prostate health regimen. Lycopene is notable for maintaining healthy prostate cell reproduction, as well as healthy prostate size and function. It even promotes arterial health for healthy blood flow.

9. Selenium

—Selenium is a mineral that is involved in several biological processes. It is generally associated with longevity, particularly due to its role in fighting oxidative stress and being a vital nutrient for healthy cell division. Selenium is known for being a popular supplement among men, particularly those who are interested in supporting prostate health.

Need any more reason to love these nutrients? One systematic review of published clinical trials reported on results from studies of saw palmetto, pygeum, beta-sitosterol, pumpkin seed, nettle, flax and lycopene on prostate health, and the conclusions were promising. With saw palmetto being the most widely used supplement, the review found that various ingredients in this list, used alone or in combination, helped:

  • Inhibit the 5-alpha reductase enzyme (an enzyme that helps make DHT, which can negatively impact prostate health)
  • Inhibit inflammation to support prostate health
  • Fight oxidative stress
  • Support healthy cell proliferation
  • Promote healthy size and function of the prostate gland

Saw palmetto, selenium, and the like aren't the only nutrients out there that support men's health, though. Some other honorable mentions for prostate health support include green tea, boron, zinc and pomegranate extracts.

What supplements could be bad for your prostate health?

There has been no conclusive research that specific supplements are bad for or can negatively impact prostate health. If you stick with standbys like saw palmetto, you should have nothing to worry about. However, you should always be mindful of what you're adding to your regimen and check with your healthcare provider before introducing anything new—particularly anything that has mysterious-sounding ingredients without reliable scientific studies backing up their efficacy. This will ensure that you are avoiding taking anything that may not support you in reaching your health goals.

Are prostate supplements safe? Who should not take prostate supplements?

Research has shown that prostate supplements are generally well tolerated and have little to no side effects. However, it is important to be aware that while prostate health supplements are safe to use as part of your vitamin and supplement regimen, people under the age of 18 should not be taking prostate supplements. If you are concerned that you are experiencing a side effect, discontinue use and discuss it with your doctor.

How to choose a high-quality prostate supplement?

You want to make sure you're getting good out by putting good in, so it's no surprise when it comes to prostate health that quality matters! While there may not be a risk of side effects, there is always the risk of it not being effective because it was not developed using high quality ingredients (and we'd argue wasting money is a financial "side effect" you'll want to avoid!).

Always do your research before picking a supplement (this advice applies to any dietary supplement, whether it's a multivitamin, omega-3, vitamin E softgel, or a prostate formula). It's also important to find companies that can provide a Certificate of Analysis to ensure that what you see on the supplement facts is what you're getting in the bottle.

Other good options to look for are non-GMO, gluten free, and vegetarian supplements. Some of the best supplement brands offer a money-back guarantee to ensure you're satisfied that the supplement is effective.

How can you support your prostate health? Lifestyle hacks

While there are no hacks that are specifically for prostate health, keeping your prostate healthy starts with keeping your whole body healthy! Here are some tried-and-true ways to keep your overall health in tip-top shape.

  • Healthy diet

    —A healthy diet and nutrition is essential for overall well-being. While there's not always a one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating, the nutritionist-approved Mediterranean diet is a good one to try. Emphasizing high-quality plant-based foods, like whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and nuts, along with sources of healthy fatty acids like extra-virgin olive oil and salmon, this diet is well-known for being heart healthy and chock full of vitamins.
  • Regular exercise

    —Exercise is a major component keeping yourself in optimal shape. Not only is exercise great for maintaining lean muscle mass and is great for your brain, it can also promote healthy weight management. There's even evidence that it can help you support optimal longevity. Try a high results HIIT class, or maybe some low-impact yoga to keep your healthy lifestyle running in the right direction. Or take it outside and go biking or running to get some vitamin D from the sun!
  • Get adequate sleep

    —Sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle. It impacts everything from your immune health to your mood. Try to avoid blue light two hours before bed, limit caffeine six hours before bed, and try to aim for between seven and nine hours of restful, restorative sleep every night.
  • Smart supplementation

    —While prostate health is a major component of men's health, it's not the only one. In order to make sure your body is a well-oiled machine, it's important that you don't overlook other dietary supplements to support your healthy goals. It might be a good idea to add a high-quality multivitamin to your daily routine. Look for one that includes all the important letter vitamins, like vitamin D and vitamin E, and good-for-you minerals, like zinc and magnesium, along with other nutrients to help keep you at your healthiest. Another essential you shouldn't overlook is an omega-3 fish oil for heart and cardio health. If you're still not sure exactly what you may need, this men's health supplement quiz can help you discover which vitamins and supplements are right for you!
  • Routine lab testing

    —Lab testing is essential for staying well, and it's particularly important for men to keep tabs on their prostate health by routinely testing their prostate specific antigen levels. This is an essential step that not only will allow you to be proactive about your numbers but also help guide your health choices.

References

By: Holly Denton, Health & Wellness Writer

Holly Denton got her degree in English Literature from Florida State University and spent a few years working in English education (building English as a Foreign Language curriculums, as well as teaching abroad) before joining Life Extension as a Proofreader.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD