Collagen For Men: How To Decide If You Should Take It & Benefits

Collagen For Men: How To Decide If You Should Take It & Benefits

mbg Beauty Director- By Alexandra Engler

Expert review by Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN

September 21, 2021

This article is a repost which originally appeared on mbghealth

Edited for content.

Despite being on the market for some time now, collagen supplements still seem to garner many questions. How long does it take until you see results? (Answer: It depends!) How much should you take? (There’s no recommended dosage at this time, but we have some pretty good research to support a range of 10 to 20 grams a day.) Are collagen supplements vegan? (Hard no! You can find collagen-supporting supplements made from vegan ingredients but not collagen itself.) 

While those questions are pretty general, others come down to personal factors, such as age, sex, weight, activity level, and lifestyle habits—which brings us to the question at hand: What should men know about taking collagen supplements? Now, we bring this up because sex and hormones can influence what supplements you decide to take. For example, someone going through menopause will likely have a different routine than a 20-something cis male.

So is such the case for collagen? Here’s what we know. 

Should men take collagen supplements?

Most adults could benefit from collagen supplements—no matter their age or sex—as it’s very well tolerated, comes with minimal cautions, and boasts a host of universal benefits.* And did we mention: Hello, protein. So should men take it specifically? Well, if you’re a man and want to take it: By all means!

Really the only difference you may find for supplementation is protein dosage. Allow me to explain. Collagen is a type of protein (it’s an incomplete protein, but more on that in a second). For healthy adults, you need at least 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for muscle mass maintenance. From there, protein needs increase based on activity levels: For highly active adults, you should consume 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. And collagen supplementation can help you achieve your daily protein intake, as it can act as a complementary source of amino acids. In fact, a 2019 study found that as much as 36% of daily protein could come from collagen peptides while simultaneously achieving daily essential amino acid requirements.*

And since, on average, men weigh more than women (and typically have more connective tissues, where collagen resides)—men may need a higher collagen dose. However, this is neither definitive nor true in every case; it should be evaluated on a person-by-person basis.

As mbg’s director of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, explains, “Every supplement ritual should be individualized, but some supplements get unfairly labeled as only relevant to women or men. That’s unfortunate since nutrition and bioactives are rarely binary. Saying collagen is only for women is like saying calcium is only for women. In reality, men have connective tissues—skin, bones, joints, muscles, tendons, vessels, etc.—that collagen is literally critical for, just like men have bones and require calcium.”*

5 benefits of collagen supplements for men.

Collagen benefits are systemic and universal.* When you ingest peptides, your body absorbs and distributes the amino acids where they are needed. So here are all the ways adding a supplement to your routine can help you: 

1. Skin

I think we can all move past the stereotype that men don’t care about their appearance and skin as they age. Collagen supplements can support the skin in a variety of ways, from firmness to hydration.* For example, one study found that they are able to support skin elasticity and dermal collagen density.* Another double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that participants’ moisture levels in the skin were seven times higher than those who did not take collagen supplements.* 

2. Hair

Hair thinning is a very common situation for most men, and one way you can help healthy hair naturally is by providing the body with all the needed building blocks for keratin, the protein that makes up hair. What are those building blocks? Amino acids, many of which are found in collagen peptides.* In fact, the main amino acid in keratin is proline—which is readily found in many collagen supplements.

3. Gut health

While this is a newer area of study for collagen supplements, research has found that levels of certain types of collagen are lower in individuals with digestive challenges.* And much of the benefits are due to collagen peptides’ specific amino acid makeup. For example, research has found that one of the main amino acids in collagen, L-glutamate, supports the intestine by neutralizing oxidative stress and acts as a major fuel source for the cells in the intestine.* The cells of our gut lining also use proline and glycine for energy, and these are two additional amino acids found in collagen.*

4. Muscle mass

Collagen is not technically a complete protein—meaning it does not contain all nine of the essential amino acids (it has eight of them)—but it still delivers plenty of amino acids that can contribute to muscle mass, when taken as part of a robust diet.* This is especially true when combined with the right fitness routines. In one small clinical study, men who took 15 grams of collagen daily while participating in an exercise program gained more muscle mass than those who only completed the exercise program.*

Ferira adds, “Men, muscles, and collagen is an emerging area of research I see gaining momentum. For example, in this compelling clinical trial, 15 grams of collagen peptides combined with resistance exercise training in young healthy men netted significant gains in lean mass (muscle) and muscle strength, more than just resistance training by itself. Not only that, but the researchers discovered that the men’s muscle protein was upregulated (i.e., those genes were cranked up), particularly the contractile fibers, which make your muscles work well and with speed.”*

5. Joints

Collagen type II is a common structural component of our joints. One randomized clinical trial found that people who took a type II collagen supplement for 180 days experienced improvements in their physical function and helped improve joint mobility and comfort.* 

Are there any side effects men should be worried about?

Anytime you start a new supplement, one of the first questions you should look into is if there are any cautions or side effects. Luckily for collagen, it’s a safe and widely tolerated protein: Collagen peptides are safe for consumption, and few side effects, complaints, or cautions are reported. They fall into the “benign” bucket. However, everyone is different, and everyone’s body reacts to products in unique ways. This is why some side effects are reported anecdotally. 

You can learn more about the common collagen side effects here, but as a brief overview:

  • Some brands can taste unpleasant due to the collagen itself or less-than-appetizing filler ingredients.  
  • Anecdotally, some individuals report bloating, stomach upset, and fullness.
  • We all have different sensitivities, so be careful to check where the ingredient is sourced and all other added ingredients in case you personally have an allergen. 
  • Vegans should avoid collagen, as collagen peptides are derived from animals (cows, fish, and chicken most often).

Conclusion

Not every supplement is right for every body or every need. But collagen tends to be a pretty safe bet for most, no matter your sex. Additionally, it has robust universal benefits!

*If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.

Can Specific Foods or Diets Boost Your Testosterone Levels?

Can Specific Foods or Diets Boost Your Testosterone Levels?

What you eat or drink may affect levels of the male sex hormone, but whether a diet can increase libido or energy depends on many things.

By Randi Hutter Epstein, M.D.

Published Nov. 2, 2021Updated Nov. 3, 2021

This article is a repost which originally appeared on The New York Times

Edited for content.

Can I increase my testosterone levels through the foods I eat? And if so, which foods or diets work best?

Many men, particularly as they age, are concerned about their levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone touted to build muscle, sex drive and vigor. But individual foods are unlikely to have an impact on testosterone levels — though drinking excessive amounts of alcohol might. If you are overweight, altering your diet to lose weight may help, since carrying excess pounds is a common cause of low testosterone. But in terms of specific foods or diets, any uptick you achieve may not have a noticeable impact on libido, energy or muscle mass.

“If someone was not overweight, I wouldn’t put them on a specific diet to raise testosterone based on the data we have now,” said Alexander Pastuszak, an assistant professor of urology and surgery at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, who co-authored a review on alternatives to testosterone therapy.

In men, normal testosterone levels range from 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter of blood. Ups and downs within that normal range are unlikely to have any impact on sex drive or vitality. Only when levels consistently drop below 300 points — as confirmed in two blood tests by an accredited laboratory — are symptoms like low libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, low mood or loss of muscle mass likely to appear, a medical condition known as hypogonadism.

Starting at around age 40, men’s testosterone levels start to decline by about 1 percent per year. But the drop can vary tremendously, with some older men maintaining levels similar to healthy young men. The trajectory of falling testosterone is steeper among men who gain a lot of weight, said Dr. Shalender Bhasin, professor of medicine at Harvard and the director of the Research Program in Men’s Health: Aging and Metabolism at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Studies on foods or diets and testosterone levels have generally been small and the findings far from conclusive. A recent British review that pooled data from 206 volunteers, for example, found that men on high-fat diets had testosterone levels that were about 60 points higher, on average, than men on low-fat diets. Men who followed a vegetarian diet tended to have the lowest levels of testosterone, about 150 points lower, on average, than those following a high-fat, meat-based diet. Still, Joseph Whittaker, the lead investigator and a nutritionist at the University of Worcester in Britain, said he would not recommend a man increase the fats in his diet unless he had low testosterone levels and symptoms of low T and was already restricting fats.

Another study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tested two styles of diets in 25 fit men between the ages of 18 and 30. Calories consumed were the same, but one group ate a high-fat, very-low-carb, ketogenic-style diet, consisting of 75 percent of calories from fats, 5 percent from carbohydrates and 20 percent from protein. Men in the other group ate a more traditional Western style, low-fat diet, containing 25 percent of calories from fats, 55 percent from carbohydrates and 20 percent from protein. After 10 weeks of eating the high-fat diet, testosterone increased by 118 points, on average, while after the low-fat diet, levels declined by about 36 points.

Similarly, a study of 3,000 men found that those who reported eating a low-fat diet had slightly lower testosterone levels — about 30 points lower — than men who ate higher-fat diets. But none of the men had low testosterone.

“The moral is that healthy men who are of normal weight with no significant comorbidities are unlikely to benefit from restrictive diets,” said Dr. Richard J. Fantus, one of the study’s authors and a urologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Ill.

Diet studies are complicated, because changing one component of the diet, such as fat intake, alters so many other things, such as the amount of carbohydrates, protein and micronutrients consumed. It’s unclear which component of the diet may have prompted the hormonal changes, Dr. Bhasin said. Furthermore, testosterone levels may also be shaped by how much a person sleeps, or whether they are jet-lagged, or if they are eating most of their calories at night or in small meals throughout the day.

Dr. Faysal Yafi, chief of the division of Men’s Health and Reconstructive Urology at the University of California, Irvine, says his patients who opt to follow specific diets tend to start exercising more and drinking less alcohol, all of which can raise testosterone levels. He suspects any links between diet and testosterone may be the result of an overall healthier lifestyle.

Some men worry that eating lots of soy foods may cause their testosterone levels to fall, because soy is rich in isoflavones, which mimic the structure of estrogen. But the evidence doesn’t support their concerns, even if men eat foods like miso, tofu or soy milk at every meal. (Doctors did report one anecdotal case in which a 19-year-old man with Type 1 diabetes who followed a vegan diet containing 360 milligrams of soy isoflavones daily — nine times higher than a typical Japanese diet, and 100 times higher than the typical American diet — developed low testosterone levels along with low libido and fatigue. His symptoms improved when he stopped eating the soy-heavy, vegan diet.)

Long-term alcohol abuse lowers testosterone by damaging cells in both the testes, which make testosterone, and the liver, which alters testosterone metabolism. But binge drinking every now and then does not appear to have much of an impact — it lowers testosterone for only about 30 minutes, according to one study, after which levels bounce back to baseline.

Obese men who have low levels of testosterone can increase levels by cutting calories and losing weight — the type of diet does not matter, studies suggest. On the opposite extreme, Dr. Bhasin said he is seeing an increasing number of men at his clinic who have body dysmorphic issues and are suffering from low libido and fatigue. Strict calorie restriction, exercising intensely and being chronically stressed can all cause testosterone levels to plummet and are likely to blame, he said.

The bottom line is that for otherwise healthy men who are following a reasonably healthy lifestyle, fiddling with specific foods or the composition of the diet is not likely to make much of a difference on the testosterone score card. As Dr. Fantus of NorthShore University put it: “I don’t think there is a way to game the system to get really large increases by changing the diet.”

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that men who ate low-fat diets tended to have higher testosterone levels. Men who ate high-fat diets tended to have the higher T levels.

The article also referred to a 19-year-old man with low testosterone levels who was eating a diet containing 360 milligrams of soy daily; his diet actually contained 360 milligrams of soy isoflavones.

 

Studies address how plant-based diets impact men’s health issues

Studies address how plant-based diets impact men’s health issues

Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc. Sep 24 2021

This article is a repost which originally appeared on NEWS MEDICAL LIFE SCIENCES

Edited for content.

Three new studies by University of Miami Miller School of Medicine urologists address how consuming healthy plant-based diets impact a range of men’s health issues -; from diabetes to sexual health.

Plant-based diets is a hot topic in men’s health but one that many men dismiss for fear that eating less meat might negatively impact testosterone levels and sexual health.

Patients often ask about what they can do to keep prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels low or prevent prostate cancer.”

Mark L. Gonzalgo, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair, Urology, Miller School

Healthy plant-based diets are among the lifestyle changes that men are hearing and learning about for overall health. Consuming a healthy plant-based diet does not necessarily mean eliminating meat, rather it focuses on eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes and less animal protein, according to Dr. Gonzalgo.

Yet there remain misconceptions among men about plant-based diets, according to Ranjith Ramasamy, M.D., associate professor and director of the Miller School’s Reproductive Urology Program.

“Traditionally, men have thought that lots of protein, specifically animal protein, was necessary to maintain testosterone levels and indirectly related to maintaining erectile function,” Dr. Ramasamy said.

Miller School investigators conduced three studies, including two abstracts presented at the September 2021 American Urology Association annual meeting, suggesting plant-based diets may improve serum testosterone and erectile function.

Plant-based eating and PSA

Urology resident Ali Mouzannar, M.D., presented and was among the authors of “Impact of Plant-Based Diet on PSA Level: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES),” a study looking at the dietary habits of nearly 1,400 men with documented PSA levels in the NHANES database.

“PSA is a sensitive marker to prostate cancer. Patients with an elevated PSA require further evaluation with prostate biopsy to rule out cancer,” Dr. Mouzannar said.

Studying the impact of a plant-based diet on PSA levels is reasonable given what already is known about diets high in animal protein.

“Studies have shown that more aggressive prostate cancer can be associated with high meat intake. In addition, there is growing evidence that animal-based food has been associated with greenhouse emissions, and all-cause mortality risk., “Dr. Mouzannar said. “Several other publications suggest that fruits and vegetables may have protective effect against prostate cancer.”

Dr. Mouzannar and colleagues looked at men’s diets and PSA levels and found men consuming more fruits, vegetables and other healthy plant-based foods and less meat had lower PSA levels than men who consumed more meat or less healthy diets, including fruit juices, refined grains, potatoes, sugars, artificially sweetened beverages, and desserts.

More studies need to be conducted to determine if diet causes lower PSA levels, but in the meantime urologists and other can refer to the findings to answer patients’ questions.

“The important take-home message from this study is that it appears that adopting a plant-based diet may be associated with lower PSA levels and can certainly be incorporated into ways that patients can live healthier lifestyles,” said Dr. Gonzalgo, who also is a study author.

Other Miller School authors on the study are urology resident Manish Kuchakulla, M.D.; urology resident Ruben Blachman Braun, M.D., M.Sc.; medical student Sirpi Nackeeran; urology resident Maria Becerra, M.D.; Assistant Professor Bruno Nahar, M.D.; Associate Professor of Urology Oncology Sanoj Punnen, M.D.; Associate Professor of Urology Oncology Chad Ritch, M.D., M.B.A.; and Professor and Chair of Urology Dipen Parekh, M.D.

No ED, testosterone links

Contrary to the belief that eating more animal protein improves erectile function and testosterone levels in men, Miller School investigators found no impact on testosterone levels from a healthy plant-based diet and a positive impact from eating more plant-based foods and animal protein on erectile function, according to Miller School urology resident Ruben Blachman-Braun, M.D., M.Sc., who presented and authored “Plant-based diets are associated with decreased risk of erectile dysfunction.”

Dr. Blachman-Braun and colleagues studied nearly 2,550 men in the NHANES database.

“Of those, there were 1,085 with some degree of erectile dysfunction and after performing an analysis we showed that increased plant-based diet consumption is associated with decreased risk of erectile dysfunction,” Dr. Blachman-Braun said. “This does not mean that eating a plant-based diet improves erections. However, it shows that eating a plant-based diet does not negatively affect erections and having a healthier lifestyle with increased dietary plant-based consumption can potentially lead to having better erections.”

Other authors on this study are medical student Eliyahu Kresch; medical student Sirpi Nackeeran; Manish Kuchakulla and Dr. Ramasamy.

In yet another study published earlier this year in the World Journal of Urology, Dr. Ramasamy and coauthors analyzed health and diet information from 191 participants of the NHANES database. Plant-based diet index, or the amount of plant-based foods in men’s diets, did not predict and had no impact on serum testosterone levels.

Coauthors on this study were Manish Kuchakulla, Sirpi Nackeeran and Ruben Blachman-Braun.

The two studies presented at AUA were featured in its press release, putting a spotlight on the topic’s relevance, according to Dr. Ramasamy.

“We are on the cusp of figuring out how healthy living with decreased animal protein and more of a plant-based diet with more vegetables and fruits is not just better for your heart but also good for men’s health conditions, including sex life and testosterone levels,” Dr. Ramasamy said.

Source:

University of Miami

Journal reference:

Mouzannar, A., et al. (2021) PD65-08 Impact Of Plant-Based Diet On Psa Level: Data From The National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey. Journal of Urology. doi.org/10.1097/JU.0000000000002109.08.

Aloe for Male Enhancement: Is It Safe and Does It Work?

Aloe for Male Enhancement: Is It Safe and Does It Work?

Medically reviewed by Joseph Brito III, MD — Written by Rachael Zimlich on June 7, 2021

This article is a repost which originally appeared on Healthline

Edited for content.

Aloe vera can be found in many products. It can help boost the moisture content of your skin and even help heal burns and other wounds.

While it may seem like something of a miracle product, it can’t help with everything. In fact, you may want to be cautious before applying it everywhere — including your genitalia.

Keep reading to find out how aloe vera can be used for sexual health and when to avoid it.

What is male enhancement?

Male enhancement is a general phrase used to describe any efforts to improve the appearance, size, or function of genitalia — specifically the penis.

Some common enhancement strategies include:

  • stretches and exercises
  • topical or oral medications and herbal remedies
  • pumps
  • clamps and rings
  • surgery
  • grooming techniques

The goal of these strategies is to increase the size or appearance of the penis, improve erection strength and duration, or resolve ejaculation issues.

In some cases, male enhancement aims to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). This term typically refers to the inability to have or maintain an erection, but there can be varying levels of ED. In many cases, there’s another root issue, like cardiovascular disease or a medication side effect.

Improvement of ED is commonly pursued either for sexual pleasure or fertility purposes. Treatments should be designed based on the goal in mind.

Talk with a doctor about your specific symptoms and goals before beginning any new therapies or medications.

Does research support the use of topical aloe vera for male enhancement?

The use of aloe vera for general health and skin care is fairly common. However, you may be wondering if it could be used for male enhancement.

Most herbal or plant remedies are based in cultural practices, but there’s not a lot of clinical research on some claims of aloe vera benefits, like male enhancement.

Some studies have been done with animals, but the results were generally inconclusive. If anything, some of these studies raised concern about the use of aloe vera for sexual health benefits.

Here’s a breakdown of some relevant research in this area:

  • In a 2011 animal study, topical aloe vera reduced sperm concentration and quality.
  • A 2014 study showed possible benefits to sperm health and hormone levels in mice that received injections of an aloe vera compound.
  • A 2015 study showed that that aloe vera may potentially harm fertility in male rats.
  • There have been reports of libido enhancement with aloe use, but results may vary based on the specific form of aloe.

If you’re concerned about ED or another sexual health issue, talk with a healthcare professional. They can help guide you toward the right treatment for your situation.

Other natural treatments for male enhancement

There are many natural remedies you can try if you’re interested in male enhancement. However, you should always discuss any supplements you’re considering with a doctor first.

Several herbal remedies that have shown promising effects on male sexual health and performance include:

  • L-arginine
  • panax ginseng
  • L-citrulline
  • L-carnitine
  • gingko biloba

Other ways to improve your sexual health and performance include focusing on an overall healthy lifestyle, including:

  • staying active and exercising
  • eating a healthy diet
  • reducing stress
  • avoiding alcohol and other drugs
  • spending time outdoors

While regular exercise and a healthy diet are always good choices, talk with your doctor before starting any new therapies or supplements for male enhancement.

How is aloe vera used?

Aloe vera has been used on the skin and in the body for thousands of years. It can be found in all kinds of products — from juices to lotions.

Oral use of aloe vera usually comes in a pill form or as liquid extract or juice that you can drink. It’s thought to help with the following conditions:

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • hepatitis
  • inflammatory bowel disease

However, there isn’t enough data to determine if oral aloe is effective for improving these conditions.

Evidence on the benefits of topical use — such as a gel, ointment, or lotion — is clearer, demonstrating that aloe can be helpful in treating:

  • acne
  • lichen planus
  • oral submucous fibrosis
  • burning mouth syndrome
  • burns
  • scabies
  • skin toxicity due to radiation

While aloe vera is generally considered safe, be sure to check the ingredients of the specific product you’re using.

Some oral aloe products may contain additional compounds that could result in side effects or interact with other medications. Even topical products may be mixed with alcohol compounds or other ingredients that can cause irritation.

Are there any possible side effects?

Aloe vera is widely used as both a topical and oral supplement. However, there have been some side effects linked to aloe vera use — either orally or topically — including:

  • liver problems
  • skin irritation
  • stomach pain or cramps
  • diarrhea
  • electrolyte imbalances

To avoid side effects, read the label of the product you’re using to understand all the ingredients it contains. You should also check for safety statements on the label.

For topical uses, it’s also a good idea to do a patch test by applying a small amount of product to an area of skin to test for sensitivity or irritation before applying liberally. This is particularly important when it comes to applying topicals, like aloe vera, to sensitive skin areas, like your genitalia.

The bottom line

There isn’t much evidence showing that aloe vera helps improve the size of your penis or your sexual performance.

However, if you decide to try it as a topical or oral supplement for enhancement, be sure to check the product’s safety, like performing a skin patch test before widespread application.

Always talk with your doctor or another healthcare professional about any supplements you plan on taking and your reason for taking them. They may be able to help treat the source of any sexual health problems you’re facing.

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

The ketogenic diet corrects metabolic hypogonadism and preserves pancreatic ß-cell function in overweight/obese men: a single-arm uncontrolled study

The ketogenic diet corrects metabolic hypogonadism and preserves pancreatic ß-cell function in overweight/obese men: a single-arm uncontrolled study

This article is a repost which originally appeared on PUBMED

Edited for content.

Endocrine. 2021 May;72(2):392-399. doi: 10.1007/s12020-020-02518-8. Epub 2020 Oct 15.

Sandro La Vignera, Rossella Cannarella, Fabio Galvano, Agata Grillo, Antonio Aversa, Laura Cimino, Cristina M Magagnini, Laura M Mongioì, Rosita A Condorelli, Aldo E Calogero

PMID: 33063272 PMCID: PMC8128723 DOI: 10.1007/s12020-020-02518-8

Abstract

Background: Overweight and obesity are increasingly spread in our society. Low testosterone levels are often present in these patients, the so-called metabolic hypogonadism, that further alters the metabolic balance in a sort of vicious cycle. Very low-calorie ketogenic diet (VLCKD) has been reported to efficiently reduce body weight, glycaemia, and the serum levels of insulin, glycated hemoglobin, but its effects on β-cell function and total testosterone (TT) levels are less clear.

Aim: To evaluate the effects of VLCKD on markers suggested to be predictive of β-cell dysfunction development, such as proinsulin or proinsulin/insulin ratio, and on TT values in a cohort of overweight or obese nondiabetic male patients with metabolic hypogonadism.

Methods: Patients with overweight or obesity and metabolic hypogonadism underwent to VLCKD for 12 weeks. Anthropometric parameters, blood testing for the measurement of glycaemia, insulin, C-peptide, proinsulin, TT, calculation of body-mass index (BMI), and HOMA index were performed before VLCKD and after 12 weeks.

Results: Twenty patients (mean age 49.3 ± 5.2 years) were enrolled. At enrollement all patients presented increased insulin, HOMA index, C-peptide, and proinsulin levels, whereas the proinsulin/insulin ratio was within the normal values. After VLCKD treatment, body weight and BMI significantly decreased, and 14.9 ± 3.9% loss of the initial body weight was achieved. Glycaemia, insulin, HOMA index, C-peptide, and proinsulin significantly decreased compared to pre-VLCKD levels. Serum glycaemia, insulin, C-peptide, and proinsulin levels returned within the normal range in all patients. No difference in the proinsulin/insulin ratio was observed after VLCKD treatment. A mean increase of 218.1 ± 53.9% in serum TT levels was achieved and none of the patients showed TT values falling in the hypogonadal range at the end of the VLCKD treatment.

Conclusions: This is the first study that evaluated the effects of VLCKD on proinsulin, proinsulin/insulin ratio, and TT levels. VLCKD could be safely used to improve β-cell secretory function and insulin-sensitivity, and to rescue overweight and obese patients from β-cell failure and metabolic hypogonadism.

Keywords: Insulin; Metabolic hypogonadism; Proinsulin; Testosterone; VLCKD; β-cell dysfunction.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research reported.

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Does Garlic Increase Your Sex Drive?

Can Garlic Improve Your Sex Life?

Written by Rachael Link, MS, RD on May 25, 2021 — Medically reviewed by Kim Chin, RD

This article is a repost which originally appeared on Healthline

Edited for content.

Garlic is a popular ingredient that has been linked to a long list of health benefits.

According to some studies, garlic could help fight inflammation, reduce cholesterol levels, and protect against chronic disease.

Given its many medicinal properties, people may also wonder whether garlic can improve sexual function or increase libido.

This article looks at the evidence to determine whether garlic can increase your sex drive.

May improve blood flow

Some research suggests that garlic may help increase blood flow, which may be beneficial for treating issues like erectile dysfunction in men.

In fact, multiple human and animal studies have found that certain compounds found in garlic can increase blood flow and improve blood vessel function.

What’s more, one study among 49 older men found that a medication containing ingredients like aged garlic extract, ginseng, and velvet antler improved erectile function.

Garlic can also increase nitric oxide levels, a compound that helps blood vessels dilate to promote better blood flow. This could potentially help improve erectile function.

However, more human studies are needed to evaluate the effects of garlic on erectile dysfunction specifically.

Summary

Garlic may help improve blood flow, which could help prevent erectile dysfunction. However, more human research is needed.

May enhance male fertility

In addition to increasing blood flow, some studies have found that garlic may help promote male fertility.

One review of 18 studies concluded that garlic helped boost sperm production and increase levels of testosterone, which may be due to its antioxidant properties.

In a recent animal study, S-allyl cysteine, a compound found in garlic, increased testosterone production in mice.

Another animal study also showed that aged garlic extract could protect against changes in sperm production and testosterone levels caused by chemotherapy.

Still, further research is needed to determine how garlic may affect male fertility and testosterone levels in humans.

Summary

Although studies in humans are limited, some research shows that garlic and its components could improve male fertility, enhance testosterone levels, and increase sperm production.

Acts as an antioxidant

Antioxidants can not only help protect against chronic disease but also may play a key role in sexual health and fertility.

Fresh garlic and aged garlic extract are rich in antioxidants and can help neutralize harmful compounds known as free radicals.

According to one study among 100 men with infertility, taking an antioxidant supplement increased sperm count.

Interestingly, one study in rats with diabetes found that S-allyl cysteine from garlic improved erectile function by blocking the formation of free radicals.

However, additional studies are needed to understand how the antioxidants in garlic may affect sexual function and fertility in humans.

Summary

Garlic is a good source of antioxidants, which may improve sexual health and fertility.

The bottom line

Garlic is a powerful ingredient that has been linked to many potential health benefits.

According to some human and animal studies, it may improve sexual function by increasing blood flow and enhancing fertility, especially in men.

Still, limited research is available on garlic’s effects on sex drive specifically, and it remains unclear how it might affect sexual function in women.

However, it can easily be enjoyed as part of a nutritious, well-rounded diet to support overall health and protect against disease.

Just one thing

Try this today: When using garlic, be sure to crush or chop it, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before cooking. This increases its content of allicin, a compound responsible for many of the health benefits associated with this popular ingredient.

 

Erectile Dysfunction: Signs & Ways To Eliminate Its Risk

How To Detect The Early Signs Of Erectile Dysfunction & Eliminate The Risk Once And For All

Updated on May 04, 2021, 18:00 IST · 4 min read

By Snehal Sharma

This article is a repost which originally appeared on MENSXP

Edited for content.

It’s not easy to talk about sex, especially if you’re grappling with insecurities.

For the longest time, erectile dysfunction was ascribed to psychological origins. Most ancient cultures, including Ayurveda, believed that ED can be treated with the help of natural herbs such as Indian ginseng, sesame powder, Safed Musli and more.

Today, we know more about its causes and have treatments to address the issue. But before we talk about eliminating the condition, we need to dispel the stigma associated with ED.

Studies have clarified that ED is not just “in your head”. According to a 2017 study by the Department of Urology Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, 20% of men across all age groups battle ED in India and 30% of them are younger than 40.

Most of the times, it is experienced due to an underlying cause that can be treated.

But no cure is possible until men accept the problem and stop shying away from asking for help.

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile Dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is a condition in which a man experiences difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection during sexual performance.

The symptoms may also include reduced sexual desire or libido. If the condition lasts for more than a few weeks or months, your doctor is likely to diagnose you with ED.

Signs Of Erectile Dysfunction

Every piece of the body—including your emotions, hormones, brain, nerves, muscles and blood vessels—plays an intricate role in male arousal. When any of these isn’t aligned, it results in some kind of dysfunction.

Your mental health impacts your sexual ability equally. Stress, anxiety and other mental health concerns can worsen erectile dysfunction.

Experiencing minor or occasional sexual problems don’t necessarily mean you’re dealing with erectile dysfunction. But lookout for the consistency of these symptoms.

● Reduced or no desire for sex.

● Inability to get an erection.

● Inability to maintain an erection.

Who Is At The Risk?

The risk of ED increases as you age, especially if you have lived a sedentary lifestyle. It can worsen if you:

● Have a psychological condition like anxiety, depression or stress.

● Have an injury that might damage the nerves and arteries that contribute to erections.

● Use tobacco, drugs or alcohol.

● Are overweight.

● Are undergoing radiation treatment for cancer.

● Are taking antidepressants or high blood pressure medications.

● Have heart disease or diabetes.

How To Prevent Erectile Dysfunction

The healthier you are, the easier it’ll be to fight erectile dysfunction. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to prevent ED but you can avoid persistent problems by taking care of its causes and yourself. The following measures may help:

● Reduce stress.

● Take care of your mental health.

● Exercise daily.

● Limit alcohol consumption.

● Quit smoking and stop using recreational drugs.

● Manage diabetes and heart disease.

How Can You Treat Erectile Dysfunction

The causes of ED vary and so does the treatment. Work with your doctor to create a plan that’s best for you.

1. Counselling

If you feel anxious, depressed or have any other mental health concern, seek therapy. Along with consulting a professional, indulge in relaxing activities such as music, painting, poetry or aromatherapy. Geranium oil helps those with low libido.

2. Ayurveda to the rescue

It’s not feasible for everyone to collect and consume the recommended herbs for sexual wellness. But you can always rely on natural supplements that provide men with the right nutrients optimised for better and stronger erections.

3. Lifestyle changes

Manage weight, exercise or do yoga consistently, stop smoking, avoid alcohol and illicit drugs and manage your health with the help of a doctor.

4. Prescribed medication

If the above treatments don’t work, your doctor may prescribe oral medications—like Viagra, Levitra, Aronix, Tadalafil, Stendra and Cialis, self-injection such as an Alprostadil or testosterone replacement.

5. Physical treatments

Penis pump or penile implants. However, these aren’t generally considered until every other treatment has failed.

Final Thoughts

Recognise the symptoms and consult a professional. If you’re diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, your doctor will help you figure out the cause of ED.

Work on the treatment options and before you know it, you’ll start seeing the results.

Is fish oil beneficial for men?

What to know about the benefits of fish oil for men

Medically reviewed by Grant Tinsley, PhD — Written by Zia Sherrell, MPH on March 7, 2021

This article is a repost which originally appeared on MEDICALNEWSTODAY

Edited for content

Fish oil is a common dietary supplement rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Research suggests they could be beneficial for health and protection from certain diseases. Additionally, there may also be specific benefits for men, as fish oil might help with erections and fertility.

People who eat lots of oily fish may get enough of these fatty acids from their diet. For those who do not, or only occasionally, eat fish, taking a fish oil supplement could ensure they get sufficient amounts.

This article explores the potential benefits of fish oil for men and the possible risks. It also suggests how people may increase their levels of omega-3.

Definition of fish oils

Fish oil comes from various species of oily fish, such as mackerel, tuna, and herring. Manufacturers can use many different methods to harvest fish oil, but most techniques typically involve a four-stage process that includes cooking, pressing, filtering, and centrifuging the resultant oil.

Fish oils contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are essential fatty acids that the body cannot make itself. Two of the most well-known types of omega-3 are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Consuming fish oils and omega-3 may bring some health benefits and help with a number of health conditions.

List of possible benefits

Fish oil may have an impact on different areas of health and be a useful supplement for many people. The following is a list of some potential benefits of fish oil for men.

Sexual health and fertility

Although not widely reported, fish oil supplements may have benefits for sexual health and fertility.

A 2017 animal study examined the effects of omega-3 fatty acids and erectile dysfunction due to atherosclerosis. In this condition, the blood vessels narrow, which can affect erections. Rats in the treatment group fed omega-3 fatty acids demonstrated significantly improved erection quality.

It is essential to bear in mind that animal studies do not indicate the same results in humans. However, an earlier review also indicates that omega-3 could help men with erectile function.

In a 2020 study of 1,694 young male participants, those who reported using fish oil supplements had larger testes and higher semen volume and quality.

They also had a healthier-looking profile of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. These are two key hormones that regulate sperm production.

Although the study cannot conclude that the fish oil is causing the improvement, it suggests that it may play a role.

Mental health

Research suggests that individuals with depression may have lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids. In a small study of 23 people published in Psychiatry Research, supplementation with omega-3s helped improve symptoms of depression within 3 weeks.

There are links between depression and memory problems. Supplementing with DHA alone or in combination with EPA may improve memory function in some groups of adults.

While studies suggest that omega-3 supplementation may help prevent cognitive decline, especially in older adults, a 2019 review notes that more research is still necessary.

Heart health

Heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 deaths in the United States each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S.

Eating fish may have a protective effect on heart health by reducing some of the risk factors for heart disease.

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood, and although the body needs them, if levels are too high, they can increase the risk of heart disease.

Fish oil may help lower elevated triglyceride levels and blood pressure. Eating fish may also help to significantly lower low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol.

While many sources promote the potential benefits of fish oil for cardiovascular health, clinical studies do not consistently support them. For example, an analysis published in JAMA Cardiology could not find a clear link between fish oil and lower heart disease risk.

Eye health

Some evidence suggests that an adequate intake of fish oil may help protect eye health. A 2017 review notes that fish oil may play a role in the treatment of inflammatory eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eye disease.

A 2019 study indicates that people who regularly consume fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish were less likely to develop AMD compared with those who did not.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommend fish oils to reduce the symptoms of dry eye. However, some evidence suggests they have no effect. A 2018 study found no evidence to indicate that taking fish oil supplements was more helpful than taking a placebo for dry eye.

Optometrists may recommend taking omega-3 supplements or increasing dietary fish consumption to benefit eye health, even though some scientific evidence suggests fish oils are not suitable for this purpose.

Risks and considerations

Before deciding to supplement their diets with fish oils, people should also consider the possible risks.

While some research indicates that eating a diet rich in omega-3 may help prevent prostate cancer, other research suggests otherwise. A 2013 study notes that a high fish oil intake may actually increase the risk of high-grade prostate cancer.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) note that the link between omega-3 and different types of cancer, such as prostate, currently remains unclear.

Some people may experience mild side effects if they supplement with fish oil. These may include unpleasant taste, bad breath, diarrhea, flatulence, nausea, and other digestive symptoms.

How to increase your omega-3 level

The three primary omega-3 fatty acids are EPA, DHA, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). While the first two are present in fish oil, ALA comes from plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils.

ALA is an essential fatty acid, meaning that the body cannot make it, and it must come from a dietary source. Although the body can convert small amounts of ALA into EPA and then to DHA, the most practical way to increase these omega-3 fatty acids is from food or a nutritional supplement.

ALA is the only omega-3 that is essential, so it is the only one with a recommended adequate intake. Research suggests that males should aim for roughly 1.6 grams.

Both EPA and DHA do not have official recommended daily dosages as they are not essential nutrients. However, the British Dietetic Association suggest a daily dose of about 450 mg EPA and DHA for adults.

It can be difficult to judge the intake from nutritional supplements, as the amounts of fish oil may vary. For example, 1,000 mg of fish oil from one brand of supplement may contain less or more EPA and DHA than the same amount of oil from another brand.

People can get enough omega-3 by including the following foods in their diet:

  • fish and seafood, especially sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon, and herring
  • nuts and seeds such as chia seeds and walnuts
  • plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oil
  • fortified foods such as some types of eggs, yogurt, and soy beverages

Alternatively, people may benefit from a fish or vegetarian algae oil supplement to boost levels. Some evidence suggests that taking a fish oil supplement with a meal that contains fat may help to increase absorption.

Summary

Fish oil is rich in omega-3, which is an essential nutrient. Eating a diet containing oily fish, or taking a fish oil supplement, can ensure someone has an adequate amount.

Consuming more fish oil and omega-3 may offer some health benefits for men. This may include increasing fertility and improving heart health. However, men should weigh up the benefits with a potential increased risk of prostate cancer.

Anyone who is considering taking supplements should first check with a healthcare provider to ensure that it is safe.

Medical News Today has strict sourcing guidelines and draws only from peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical journals and associations. We avoid using tertiary references. We link primary sources — including studies, scientific references, and statistics — within each article and also list them in the resources section at the bottom of our articles. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

Why more men are suffering from infertility than ever before

Why more men are suffering from infertility than ever before

By Susannah Cahalan

February 20, 2021 | 8:28am | Updated

This article is a repost which originally appeared on NEWYORKPOST

Edited for content.

Men’s average sperm counts are down globally and testosterone levels have plunged, while erectile dysfunction is, cruelly, on the rise.

Sperm counts in Western countries have dropped by more than 50 percent since the 1970s. At the same time, men’s problems with conceiving are going up: Erectile dysfunction is increasing and testosterone levels are declining by 1 percent each year.

“The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” warns Mount Sinai fertility scientist Dr. Shanna Swan in her book, “Count Down” (Scribner), out Tuesday. “It’s a global existential crisis.”

Dr. Swan should know — she’s been researching fertility for thirty years. She studied a miscarriage boom in Santa Clara, Calif., in the 1980s, which she eventually linked to toxic waste dumped into the drinking water by a local semiconductor plant. She moved on to sperm rates in 1997 and they’ve been her “canary in a coal mine scenario” since. In 2017, she sounded the alarm with a meta-analysis of 40,000 men that showed that sperm count fell a whopping 59 percent between 1973 and 2011.

Environmental, chemical and physical factors point to men's low sperm count.
Author Shanna Swan is warning of a global infertility crisis — and urging men to change their habits.
Shutterstock

We are already seeing the effects. Worldwide fertility has dropped by 50 percent between 1960 and 2015. The United States has a total birth rate that is 16 percent below what it needs to replace itself. Though there are obvious factors at play (couples are conceiving later and opting to have smaller families), Swan argues that the issues run deeper than personal choice.

Rates of miscarriages are on the rise and girls are experiencing earlier and earlier puberties (in some cases before the age of 8). “In some parts of the world, the average twenty-something woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” Swan writes.

Binge eating in front of the tv may negatively impact men because of long periods of sitting.
Sitting for too long in one place can hurt sperm production, Swan warns.
Getty Images

It’s no wonder then that the assisted reproduction technology market is worth about $21 billion and is projected to increase by 10 percent annually until 2025.

Still, fertility issues have been focused on women for too long.

“If women want to have a baby, they are often told, ‘Clean up your act,’ ” Swan writes. “But it’s probably more important for men to do so.”

Normal sperm count ranges from 15 million sperm per milliliter to 200 million per milliliter. Though the World Health Organization deems a rate below 15 million as “low,” Swan argues that anything below 40 million creates challenges for reproduction. Today the average male is nearing that number at 47.1 million sperm per milliliter. Compare him to his father, who had an average of 99 million sperm per milliliter, and it’s clear that this is a deeply worrying trend.

Not only do men today have less sperm than their fathers, but they also have lower testosterone levels. A 2006 study showed that a 65-year-old man in 2002 would have testosterone levels that are 15 percent lower than a 65-year-old man in 1987. A similar drop has been noted in young adults and adolescents, according to a 2020 Urology Times Journal article.

Saunas are notorious sperm overheaters.
Saunas are notorious sperm overheaters.
Getty Images

As a result, prescriptions for testosterone replacement therapies doubled between 2010 and 2013, according to Forbes, but there was one troubling side effect: “90 percent of men can have their sperm counts drop to zero while they’re on it,” Swan writes.

Sexual desire has followed a similar path. “A massive sexual slump is underway, due to declines in people’s sex drives and interest in sexual activity,” Swan writes. Men now seek help for erectile dysfunction on average seven years earlier than they did in 2005 and 26 percent of men who deal with it are under the age of 40.

A massive sexual slump is underway, due to declines in sex drives.

fertility scientist Dr. Shanna Swan

On the more extreme end of things, there have been overall increases in genital abnormalities, including higher documented rates of undescended testicles and unusually small penises. These issues have been mirrored in the animal kingdom. Baltic gray seals have reduced reproductive abilities, polar bears have smaller genitals and lower-than-average testosterone levels, and alligators, panthers and minks have all shown increases in reproductive and genital abnormalities.

So, what is going on?

Many of us simply eat too many things that are not good for us, move too little, drink too much alcohol, and engage in habits that are actively hindering our reproductive abilities, Swan writes.

But other things are out of our control.

Men who cycle for ninety minutes or more per week had 34 percent lower sperm concentrations than those who didn’t ride bicycles at all.
Men who cycle for ninety minutes or more per week have 34 percent lower sperm concentrations than those who don’t ride bicycles at all.
Getty Images

Swan points to the plastics and chemicals in our immediate environments, compounds that disrupt the hormonal systems of both men and women and make it harder to reproduce. One example she cites, for example, phthalates — near ubiquitous chemicals that make plastic more flexible and cosmetics and beauty products better able to absorb scent. These chemicals have been linked to the decreased production of hormones, like testosterone, and “male reproductive outcomes,” according to a 2018 review of research.

Flame retardants found in mattresses and foam furniture also seem to alter the same hormones that cause infertility in men, according to a 2016 study in the Reproductive Toxicology journal. In addition, chemicals used as stain, water, and grease repellents in fast-food packaging, paper plates, and stain-resistant carpeting, among other household items, have been linked to a reduction in semen quality, testicular volume, and even penis length.

Pesticides also seem to have negative effects on male fertility. One herbicide in particular called atrazine, used to prevent certain weeds from growing in corn and sugarcane on lawns and golf courses, has been linked with lower sperm quality.

Plastics in our immediate environments (like shower curtains), compounds that disrupt the hormonal systems of both men and women.
Vinyl shower curtains may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals, Swan writes.
Alamy

Infertility doesn’t just alter a man’s ability to make children, it also increases his mortality risk. Infertile men die younger than their infertile peers, according to a Stanford University study. Men with sperm concentration lower than 15 million per milliliter had a 50 percent greater chance of being hospitalized for any medical reason at all, and poor fertility has been linked with higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancers.

But there are some things we can do to help tip the scales.

The first step is to quit smoking, cut down on drinking, and maintain a healthy weight. Cigarette smoke is associated with reduced sperm count and increased sperm defects. Drinking heavily (more than 25 units per week) is also hazardous to sperm. (Interestingly, though, keeping to seven drinks a week seems to increase sperm production compared to those who don’t drink.)

Non organic fruits and vegetables, like strawberries, tend to be most contaminated by pesticides and herbicides that may mess with male hormones.
Swan advises men to buy organic to avoid pesticides and herbicides that may mess with male hormones, especially items that tend to be most contaminated, like strawberries.
Shutterstock

Meanwhile, men who cycle for ninety minutes or more per week had 34 percent lower sperm concentrations than those who didn’t ride bicycles at all, according to one study. And saunas are notorious sperm overheaters. Binging on TV also reduces sperm count (perhaps because sitting for too long in one place can hurt sperm production), while men who work out vigorously tend to have higher sperm counts, according to a Chinese study on potential sperm donors. So stay out of the sauna, get off that bicycle, and find other ways to exercise.

Also, cut down on stress. A Danish study showed that men who reported the highest levels of work stress had 38 percent lower sperm concentrations. Swan’s own research supports this. “Men who’ve experienced two or more recent stressful life events — such as the death or serious illness of a close relative, divorce or serious relationship problems, moving, or a job change — were more likely to have below-normal sperm concentration,” she writes.

Banishing air fresheners and using nontoxic household cleaners can steer you away from those hormone-disrupting chemicals.
Banishing air fresheners and using nontoxic household cleaners may also help men’s sperm counts.
Shutterstock

A high intake of full-fat dairy foods, especially cheese, has also been linked with greater sperm abnormalities. “These unfortunate effects might be due to the large amounts of estrogens in dairy products or to the presence of environmental contaminants such as pesticides and chlorinated pollutants in these products,” Swan writes.

In addition, men who eat a lot of processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, sausage, salami) tend to have lower sperm counts and a lower percentage of normally shaped sperm. The theory is that “the curing of meat produces chemicals . . . that can cause cancer and also damage DNA, including DNA in sperm,” writes Swan.

Research shows that couples who follow the Mediterranean diet (whole grains, good fats, lots of veggies) while undergoing IVF treatments had a 40 percent higher likelihood of conceiving than those who didn’t.
Research shows that couples who follow the Mediterranean diet (whole grains, good fats, lots of veggies) while undergoing IVF treatments had a 40 percent higher likelihood of conceiving than those who didn’t.
Shutterstock

Research shows that couples who follow the Mediterranean diet (whole grains, good fats, lots of veggies) while undergoing IVF treatments had a 40 percent higher likelihood of conceiving than those who didn’t. Swan also urges people to buy organic to avoid pesticides and herbicides that may mess with male hormones, especially items that tend to be most contaminated, like strawberries, spinach, kale, apples and grapes. She also suggests that people avoid any animal product that is not organic and try to buy animal products labeled as “raised without antibiotics” or “no added hormones.”

"Count Down" by Shanna Swan

She also urges people to avoid cleaners and skin-care products that are antibacterial, and favor products labeled “paraben-free” and “phthalate free.” In addition, she urges ditching vinyl shower curtains, banishing air fresheners and using nontoxic household cleaners to dodge some of those hormone-disrupting chemicals. Swan also advises that dusting more dutifully will help relieve your house (and body) of a nasty buildup of chemicals. A 2017 study showed that 45 potentially harmful chemicals, including phthalates and flame retardants, were found in dust buildup in 90 percent of the homes sampled in one study in the United States.

The goal here is to be more proactive about our reproductive health.

“We can no longer afford to behave as though it’s business as usual,” Swan writes. “The time has come for us to stop playing Russian roulette with our reproductive capacities. It’s up to us to heed the message and take steps to protect our legacies.”

Sea Moss: Benefits, Nutrition, and How to Prepare It

Sea Moss: Benefits, Nutrition, and How to Prepare It

Written by Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD on February 12, 2021 — Medically reviewed by Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN

This article is a repost which originally appeared on Healthline

Edited for content.

Sea moss is a spiny sea vegetable that’s primarily harvested for use in health supplements and as a thickening ingredient in commercial foods.

If you’ve heard about sea moss supplements, you may wonder how you could use them and whether there are other ways to consume sea moss.

This article examines the potential benefits and downsides of sea moss, including its nutritional content and how to prepare it.

What is sea moss?

Sea moss, scientifically known as Chondrus crispus, is a type of algae or seaweed. It grows in waters along the rocky Atlantic coasts, primarily between North America and Europe.

It’s an edible sea plant similar to other seaweeds, algae, and other familiar leafy sea vegetables like kelp or dulse.

Sea moss grows in a number of colors, such as various shades of green, yellow, purple, red, brown, and black.

The most common varieties that grow in the warmer waters are generally red and often called Irish moss.

Summary

Sea moss is a spiny sea plant that’s similar to other seaweeds and algae. The most common variety in commercial products is red and often called Irish moss.

Sea moss nutrients

Red seaweeds like sea moss contain an array of vitamins and minerals. They’re naturally low in calories, fat, and sugar, and they contain a small amount of plant protein.

A 4-tablespoon (20-gram) serving of raw Irish sea moss provides the following:

  • Calories: 10
  • Protein: 0.5 grams
  • Total fat: 0 grams
  • Total carbs: 3 grams
  • Fiber: 0.5 grams
  • Total sugar: 0 grams
  • Calcium: 1% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Iron: 10% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 7% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 2% of the DV
  • Zinc: 4% of the DV
  • Copper: 3% of the DV

Like other sea vegetables, sea moss is also a naturally good source of iodine, a micronutrient necessary for thyroid health.

Additionally, red seaweeds like sea moss are full of antioxidants, which are compounds that help protect your cells from disease-causing oxidative damage.

Summary

Sea moss is low in calories and fat, and it contains a small amount of protein. It offers a variety of vitamins and minerals and is a good source of iodine and antioxidants.

Uses

Today sea moss is mainly used as a source of vitamins and minerals to benefit overall health.

You can most commonly find it in supplement form. Some supplement companies sell it in raw form, as a gel or powder, or as an oral capsule or gummy.

Companies also sell sea moss as a component of supplements combined with turmeric, bladderwrack, and burdock root, claiming this combination benefits overall well-being, especially immunity, thyroid, digestive, and joint health.

Sea moss has a long history of use as a food-thickening agent. It’s the only natural source of carrageenan, a thickener that manufacturers use in foods like ice cream, cottage cheese, nondairy milks, and even baby formula.

Summary

People primarily harvest sea moss for its carrageenan, a natural food thickener. It has a high micronutrient content, so companies also use it to make consumer health supplements and gels.

Potential benefits

Many people use sea moss for its purported health benefits. However, it’s important to note that many of the benefits of sea moss specifically are anecdotal and lack solid scientific evidence.

There are more studies on the health benefits of seaweed and algae than on sea moss itself. Still, some of these benefits may also apply to sea moss because they grow in similar environments.

However, scientists need to conduct more research on sea moss to investigate its particular effects.

Some of the main potential benefits of using sea moss may include:

  • May support thyroid health. Seaweeds are rich in iodine, a micronutrient necessary for healthy thyroid function.
  • May support immunity. One study in salmon found that supplemental seaweed improved immune modulation and immune response. Scientists need to do more research to see whether it also supports immunity in humans.
  • May improve gut health. Seaweeds are a good source of live bacteria and fiber, which both support a healthy gut microbiome.
  • May help support weight loss. Seaweeds and microalgae are rich in fiber that can help you feel full and prevent overeating. Studies have shown that a compound in seaweed called fucoxanthin promoted fat metabolism in rats.
  • May promote heart health. Some studies have found that seaweed reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol and acts as a blood thinner, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • May improve blood sugar management. One study found that the compound fucoxanthin in seaweed reduced high blood sugar. Another study found that a compound in seaweed called alginate prevented blood sugar spikes in pigs.
  • Anecdotal benefits for fertility. There’s no scientific evidence that sea moss specifically promotes fertility in men or women. However, some people use it as a traditional fertility treatment. Scientists need to investigate this further.

While the potential health benefits of sea moss are promising, it’s important to note that most of the research is based on seaweed, not sea moss specifically. The studies were also conducted in test tubes or animals, not in humans.

Therefore, scientists need to do much more human research on the health effects of sea moss.

Summary

Animal and test-tube studies on seaweed, not sea moss specifically, suggest it may benefit weight loss, heart health, and blood sugar management, as well as thyroid, gut, and immune health. Scientists need to investigate the effects of sea moss in humans.

Downsides

One of the main potential downsides of sea moss is that not much research has been conducted on its benefits and nutritional makeup.

As with seaweed, the nutritional value of sea moss can vary greatly, making it difficult to know exactly what it contains and in what amounts. Much of the micronutrient and fatty acid contents of sea vegetables depend on the environment in which they grow.

While it’s a good source of iodine, the iodine content of sea moss and other seaweeds is highly variable. This can put consumers at risk of overconsumption of iodine, which could be problematic.

Taking in too much iodine can lead to hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. The thyroid is an important gland located in the lower front of your neck. It’s responsible for growth and metabolism.

Sea moss may also come with a risk of heavy metal consumption, as seaweed is known to absorb and store heavy metals in high amounts.

Still, the risk of toxicity appears to be low. One study examined the levels of 20 heavy metals in 8 types of seaweed from the waters around Europe and Asia. The researchers found that the amounts of heavy metals did not pose serious health risks.

Overall, it’s probably best to consume sea moss in moderation due to these unknowns.

Summary

The nutrients in sea moss can vary by the environment in which it was grown. It may contain high levels of iodine or heavy metals. However, current research has not found that sea moss contains toxic levels. Scientists need to do further research on this.

How to prepare it

You can prepare sea moss in a number of ways.

Many health food stores and online retailers sell sea moss in its raw, dried form. You can prepare a gel from this at home. This may be one of the most popular ways to consume it.

To prepare a sea moss gel, simply soak raw sea moss in water overnight, then rinse and blend it with new water until smooth. Transfer it to a container with an airtight lid and store it in the refrigerator overnight to gel.

Some supplement companies also offer sea moss that has already been prepared as a gel. According to the manufacturers, you can consume this form directly or add it to food and drinks.

Other ways to consume sea moss include mixing sea moss powder into beverages, sprinkling it over yogurt or oatmeal, and adding it to other meals.

The shelf life of sea moss depends on the form you purchased it in.

While scientific evidence is lacking, many sea moss advocates say that prepared sea moss gel should last a few weeks in the fridge, or you can freeze it.

However, it’s probably best to practice caution and only keep it for 3–5 days, as with most prepared foods and cold storage leftovers, to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Summary

You can consume sea moss in supplement or powder form, or use raw sea moss to make a gel at home. You can consume this gel on its own or add it to smoothies and other foods and beverages.

The bottom line

Sea moss, or Chondrus crispus, is a spiny sea vegetable similar to seaweeds and sea algae.

People harvest it for its carrageenan. Companies also use it as a natural thickening agent in commercial foods, as well as for use in consumer health supplements. You can also use it to make a gel at home or easily add it to foods and beverages.

Sea moss is a source of a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants that may benefit overall health. However, its nutritional composition can vary, and by consuming it in large amounts, you may consume high levels of iodine or heavy metals.

Overall, scientists need to do more research on the health effects of sea moss in humans to determine its efficacy in consumer health products. Still, some of the benefits appear promising based on seaweed and sea algae studies.