If your prostate isn’t high on your list of priorities, we’re here to open your eyes and change your mind. Although you can’t visually see your prostate, the tiny gland is much more important than you may think.
Keeping it functioning at its most optimal level using prostate health supplements and other easy-to-implement recommendations can also boost your overall health and wellness. We’ve got everything you need to know and nine prostate supplements that may be able to make a difference.
What Is the Prostate?
If you were assigned male at birth (also referred to as AMAB), you’re the proud owner of a walnut-sized gland located at the base of your penis between your bladder and rectum — the prostate. The prostate is frequently misunderstood and underappreciated, but it performs many essential jobs.
While it is vital for your reproductive health, as it produces one of the main components of seminal fluid, you don’t have to be concerned about fertility to appreciate your prostate. The prostate muscles also help to propel the semen, whether there is sperm present or not, out of the body via the urethra.
Without those muscles, there is no ejaculation. That’s why people who have had their prostate gland removed, usually due to prostate cancer surgery, have “dry” orgasms — no fluid is released when they ejaculate.
What Conditions Can Happen to the Prostate?
Just like any other part of the body, the prostate is prone to its own health issues. The prostate is involved in three main medical conditions: prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and prostate cancer.
Each happens for a different reason and has a specific treatment plan. Let’s take a closer look at each.
One of the main problems that can happen to the prostate is inflammation, a medical condition known as prostatitis. Prostate inflammation can occur on either an acute or chronic basis, each with triggers and a set of signs and symptoms.
Generally speaking, acute prostatitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection, while chronic prostatitis is a lot less well-defined. When the prostate becomes inflamed, urination can become difficult or even painful.
Painful urination occurs because the prostate gland is around the urethra (the tube where your urine flow leaves the body), so any swelling compresses it and makes it a tighter squeeze. Ironically, people with prostatitis also feel the need to urinate more frequently.
Treatment for prostatitis usually involves antibiotic therapy, either oral or IV. However, even with treatment, prostatitis can reoccur.
Prostatitis is the only prostate-related condition that is common in younger people. It is the most common issue affecting the urinary tract in those under 50 who have prostates, and it’s estimated that over two million cases are diagnosed yearly in the United States.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
In addition to inflammation, the prostate can also swell in size due to a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia ( BPH). In most cases, this swelling happens to people 50 and over.
Like prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia can cause difficulty or even complete obstruction when trying to urinate. Because of difficulty urinating, it is also more likely that someone with BPH will develop a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Ironically, the size of the prostate doesn’t necessarily determine how severe the symptoms of BPH are. Treatment for BPH can include medication or surgical intervention (known as a TURP — transurethral resection of the prostate).
BPH is found in over half of all people with prostates over 60. That number increases even more — roughly 90 percent will develop the condition by the time they turn 85.
Like any other body part, the prostate can develop abnormal cells that can become cancerous. This cancer can be localized to the prostate, spread to other nearby tissue (regionally advanced), or spread throughout the body (metastatic cancer).
Where precisely cancer has spread determines the type of treatment needed — from surgical removal of the prostate to chemotherapy and radiation. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer that impacts people born into male bodies.
One in every eight AMAB people will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, and it is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death behind lung cancer. However, prostate cancer is also very survivable, especially when caught early, before it is allowed to spread into the surrounding lymph nodes and tissue.
What Are the Top Prostate Supplements?
While there aren’t any foolproof ways to avoid developing prostate problems, certain supplements have shown promise in providing prostate support. We’ll focus on the most researched prostate supplements and share the science behind what makes them beneficial.
Calcium is a tricky supplement for prostate health. While the vitamin is crucial for helping to maintain bone strength and health, too much of it can negatively impact the prostate.
However, not getting enough calcium can also increase your risk for various harmful medical conditions. Focusing on a multivitamin that gives you the recommended daily allowance of calcium, or getting enough of it through a balanced diet, is best.
2. Saw Palmetto
You may not have heard of saw palmetto before, but the ingredient is a big part of many of the market's most popular men’s health supplements. Saw palmetto comes from the fruit of a shrub-like palm tree native to the southeastern United States.
Many believe that saw palmetto supplements can help manage the urinary symptoms resulting from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). However, there aren’t enough studies to find a solid link.
The working theory is that saw palmetto berries (and saw palmetto extracts made from those berries) possess anti-inflammatory properties. Research is ongoing, so keep an eye out!
If you asked people to name the crucial vitamins and minerals, we’d bet that selenium would not be on the list. However, selenium is just as essential for human health as any other nutrient and is even more important in prostate health and wellness.
It is a well-known antioxidant, and recent studies have shown that it may have significant protective abilities when it comes to reducing the risk for prostate cancer. However, if you have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, there is also a small risk that selenium can increase mortality, so use it with caution and consult your doctor.
If you like tomatoes, you’re probably already getting plenty of lycopene in your diet without even knowing it. Like selenium, lycopene is an antioxidant with many protective properties in the body.
One form of lycopene (lycopene-a carotenoid) is also the pigment responsible for making red fruits and vegetables vibrant. Think tomatoes and even tomato-rich products like tomato sauces and pastes (although you’ll want to avoid those with excess sodium, which can trigger elevated blood pressure).
Research has linked high levels of lycopene consumption (either dietary or via a supplement) to a reduced risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. This benefit was so significant that that reduction may be as high as 25 percent. Tomatoes are not only delicious; they’re also very beneficial with no real disadvantages.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D may be the sunshine vitamin, but it can also help with the health of an area of the body that will likely never see the light of day. In addition to helping the body process, absorb, and retain calcium and phosphorus more efficiently, vitamin D is also excellent at helping reduce inflammation. It’s this benefit that comes into play as a prostate supplement.
Although researchers aren’t entirely sure how it helps, it is believed that people with the highest levels of vitamin D in their bodies tend to have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. Those who already have prostate cancer are also less likely to have their cancer turn aggressive or die from their cancer.
Because most of us get enough vitamin D from sun exposure, the rates of prostate disease are also highest in areas of the country that get the least amount of natural sunlight.
We’d be willing to bet you’ve not heard the word beta-sitosterols before. That’s okay; not a lot of people have. Beta-sitosterol is a plant sterol, a chemical similar in nature to cholesterol.
Certain nuts (like almonds and peanuts), seeds, fruits, and vegetables contain beta-sitosterols, so you’re probably ingesting more of the nutrient than you think. While beta-sitosterols can limit the amount of cholesterol that can make it into the body, their use as a prostate supplement is even more impressive.
Specifically, the chemical may be able to help improve the symptoms that come with an enlarged prostate. Studies are still pending on scientifically backing that claim, but they have shown they can help with related urinary flow concerns.
7. Vitamin E
One prostate supplement that may be beneficial is vitamin E, a fat-soluble essential vitamin with antioxidant properties. Natural sources of the vitamin include egg yolks, nuts, and vegetable oil.
One of the types of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol, has a specific protein that studies are showing has a lot of potential in reducing prostate cancer risk. However, you must actively take the vitamin to get the benefits; those benefits drop off quickly after discontinuing the supplementation.
However, some studies have shown that vitamin E can increase your risk of developing prostate cancer. Like any supplement, we strongly urge you to check with your primary health provider for recommendations that pertain to your specific medical care.
8. Fish Oil
Fish oil softgels are another potential prostate supplement that has produced mixed results. Like other supplements, the benefits can be found up to a certain level of supplementation. Over that, too much can be a bad thing.
With fish oil, the star of the show is its fatty acids, especially omega-3. You’ve likely heard of or even used fatty acids before, as they’ve shown plenty of potential in reducing the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.
Foods like cold-water fatty fishes (mackerel, tuna, and salmon), certain nuts and seeds (chia seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts), and plant-based oils (canola, flaxseed, and vegetable) are naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It may be worth amending your diet instead of taking an additional supplement.
Are Prostate Supplements Regulated?
Prostate supplements aren’t prescription medications. Anyone can go to the store or head online and buy supplements without needing their doctor’s approval, which is both a blessing and a curse.
Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does keep an eye on dietary supplements, making sure they’re labeled appropriately and contain what they say they do, they don’t conduct clinical trials on them the same way they would a “drug.” That means it’s up to you to do your research and make sure you’re purchasing your prostate supplements from reputable companies that are transparent and have a history of positive consumer reviews.
In addition, as we’ve mentioned, although you don’t need a prescription to purchase prostate supplements, we strongly urge you to contact your healthcare provider before starting them. Some supplements have the potential to interact with specific health issues or medications, creating unwanted side effects that may negatively impact your health.
What Is a Prostate-Healthy Diet?
Monitoring your diet and catering it to be more prostate-healthy can also be beneficial. An excellent place to start is by focusing on getting at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every single day. Produce that is colorful, like carrots, spinach, and beets, is especially nutritious.
In addition to fresh produce, try to cut back on white bread, rice, and pasta in favor of whole grains. This increases your fiber consumption, which is excellent for your GI system and keeps you feeling full longer.
While the first two may be relatively easy to incorporate, what we’re about to suggest may be a little more challenging. Many scientists and dieticians strongly urge people to consider at least cutting back on their consumption of red meat to help reduce their risk of prostate-related issues.
Beef, lamb, pork, goat, and processed meats like hot dogs or bologna are potentially risky. Try to substitute them for healthier forms of protein like fish, skinless chicken and turkey, eggs, and beans whenever possible.
Along with cutting back on your meat consumption, you may also want to reduce the amount of dairy you eat or drink. While some potent vitamins and minerals are in dairy, like calcium and vitamin D, too much may at least slightly increase your risk of prostate cancer.
Instead of drinking milk, try to focus more on increasing how much water you’re consuming. So many people don’t get nearly as much water as they should.
While you may not be able to go from zero to drinking eight glasses of water a day (especially due to the increase in bathroom trips), even drinking a little more a day can be very beneficial.
Other Ways To Support Prostate Health
In addition to prostate supplements, there are other ways that you can support the health and functionality of your prostate. This well-rounded approach is the best way to approach prostate health.
Regular Doctor Visits
All of the prostate supplements in the world can’t replace regular visits to your doctor, especially if you are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Anyone with a prostate over the age of 50 should be getting annual prostate exams, and certain risk factors may require that you start them even earlier.
Your doctor may also want to do a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level to monitor you for prostate cancer, as it is often asymptomatic in its early stages. Factors that may increase your likelihood of developing prostate cancer include:
- Being over 50 (without any other known risk factors). The average age that a person is diagnosed with prostate cancer is 66.
- Being genetically Black or Caribbean.
- A family history of prostate cancer (with an even more increased risk if that family history is a father or brother or if there is more than one family member that has had prostate cancer).
- Certain genetic mutations (BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are also behind an increase in the risk of breast and ovarian cancer risk, and Lynch Syndrome).
Part of annual doctor visits for people over 50 (or those with risk factors that would make screening necessary earlier) also includes a digital exam. Although having a healthcare provider check your prostate may induce anxiety, it’s crucial for the early detection of prostate enlargement or growths.
Another way to keep your prostate happy and healthy is through prostate massage, which can be done either manually (with your fingers) or with a prostate massager. Prostate massage is a way to help drain built-up excess fluid from the prostate gland.
While this can be an incredibly pleasurable experience (and accessible to anyone with a prostate, regardless of their sexuality), it is also excellent for maintaining prostate health. Specifically, prostate massage helps reduce the risk of prostatitis, which can get painful if left untreated.
When exploring your prostate, make sure that you use plenty of lubrication. This keeps it from becoming uncomfortable. There are also plenty of options for prostate massagers, from hands-free plugs to those meant to be especially accessible to beginners (like our Tomo II Beginner Bundle).
It’s best to start with a prostate massager that is smaller in diameter and work up to a larger one if you haven’t used them before.
No, there aren’t any exercises you can do to make your prostate stronger. However, as a whole, a well-balanced exercise program can have a positive impact on your prostate while also improving your overall health and wellness.
There are a few ways to revamp your exercise routine (or start one if you’re new to the game). If you work out already and have been cleared by your doctor, slowly increase the amount you’re exercising until you’re getting at least half an hour of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week.
If you need to take it a little slower, you can break that exercise into multiple ten-minute segments you can do throughout the day. But how exactly does this help your prostate?
In a large study on people diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, those who had walked briskly for at least three hours weekly were half as likely to see their cancer progress. A follow-up study also showed the same amount of exercise led to a much lower risk of localized prostate cancer patients dying of that cancer.
The health benefits of working out can also extend your life by reducing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Losing weight can also take pressure off of your pelvic floor (which is the area that supports your prostate).
Although there isn’t a ton of science behind some of the most popular prostate supplements, focusing on your diet can definitely improve your prostate health. When combined with other ways to keep your prostate functioning optimally, like keeping your annual checkups and practicing prostate massage, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing prostate issues.
Prostate cancer and supplementation with alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene: incidence and mortality in a controlled trial | PMC
Prostate Cancer, Nutrition, and Dietary Supplements (PDQ®) | NCI
Vitamin D in prostate cancer | PMC
Selenium and prostate cancer | Harvard Health
Lycopene and Risk of Prostate Cancer | PubMed
3 ways exercise helps the prostate (yes, the prostate) | Harvard Health