Supplement Pairings for Men: What You Need and When

It’s no surprise that men and women have unique nutritional needs. Knowing which supplements to take can sometimes be confusing.

Below are three powerful supplement pairings for men that can lead to a health boost, whether you're interested in heart health, mental health or exercise recovery.

Garlic and Fish oil

Benefit: Heart health

Heart disease is currently the second leading cause of death in Canada and men are two times more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than women. Practising a healthy lifestyle with physical activity and a well-rounded diet are important steps to reduce your risk of heart disease. Additionally, there's a powerful nutritional combo that offers significant benefits in this area.

The heart-health benefits of fish oil have been widely observed and reported. This anti-inflammatory good fat can reduce high triglyceride levels in the blood. However, one of the concerns with fish oil or omega-3 supplements is that it can raise cholesterol levels in men who are already at risk of heart disease.

A study from the University of Guelph found that when garlic and fish oil were supplemented together, there was a significant reduction in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, a key indicator of heart disease risk. Garlic has been repeatedly shown to have cholesterol-lowering benefits, providing a beneficial boost to your fish oil supplement. A recent meta-analysis confirmed these cholesterol-lowering properties of garlic supplement.

When to take:

  • Take fish oil and garlic supplements with a meal that has some fat in it, such as oils or avocados. The fats in the foods will help your body absorb the fish oil. Taking these supplements with food will also reduce the likelihood of fishy or oily burps.

EPA/DHA (Omega-3) and Vitamin D

Benefit: Mental Health

Many Canadians are directly or indirectly affected by mental illness at some point in their lives: 20 per cent of Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness. The reasons for this are complex, and if you're experiencing mental distress, it's important to speak with your health care practitioner, as over 30 per cent of Canadians don’t seek services for confronting and treating this problem.

However, much research has observed a correlation between depressive symptoms and a low omega-3 intake and omega-3 ratio in the blood. EPA and DHA are the long-chain omega-3s from marine sources that have been associated with a number of health benefits.  Studies with higher supplemental EPA (over 50 per cent of the supplement) have been observed to be associated with benefits for mental health, in some cases decreasing depressive symptoms by approximately 30 per cent.

Vitamin D pairs well with an EPA/DHA supplement for a number of reasons. Specifically relating to mental health, a study from the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute showed that omega-3 fatty acids EPA/DHA paired together with vitamin D helped maintain healthy levels of serotonin, otherwise known as the "feel-good" hormone. Supplementation with vitamin D has also shown benefits for reducing the severity of depressive symptoms as measured by common tools.

When to take:

  • Take EPA/DHA and vitamin D with your evening meal. These supplements go hand-in-hand because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and absorption is improved if taken with a fat, such as an EPA/DHA supplement. As our evening meals tend to be more substantial, the natural fats in these foods can also improve the absorption of both the EPA/DHA and vitamin D.

Probiotic and Casein

Benefit: Improved exercise recovery

If you push yourself too hard when doing a strenuous workout, you can end up stiff, sore and possibly injured. Many people turn to a protein supplement to assist with both building muscle and speeding recovery.

With all the different types of protein at your local CHFA Member health food store, there's something for everyone. One of the common protein supplements is casein, a dairy-based protein often used post-workout. Casein is released into the blood stream slowly, which allows your muscles to absorb and use that protein to build muscle.

Recent research has found that a Lactobacillus probiotic supplement in combination with protein tended to reduce muscle damage, improve recovery and maintain physical performance after a hard workout. The reason for these extra benefits is that probiotics help to support intestinal digestion and absorption of nutrients while reducing overall inflammation to help your muscles heal faster. 

When to take:

  • Probiotics should be taken regularly for at least a week leading up to a particularly strenuous activity (for example, that half-marathon you’ve been training for). Casein is slow-release and absorbing protein, so it's often recommended to be taken before bed to provide a long supply of protein to recovering muscles overnight.

Whether you’re looking for a powerful supplement pair to support your cardiovascular health or mental health, consider adding garlic or vitamin D to your omega-3. If you're looking for something to help with muscle recovery, consider adding a probiotic supplement to your post-workout protein powder for added benefits.

Visit your local CHFA Member health food store for a wide variety of products. Remember to speak with your health care practitioner before making changes to your healthy regimen.