Are prostate supplements helpful?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
In general, the answer is no.

Despite the number of vitamins and supplements that claim to promote prostate health, there is little proof to support their use.

They don't help prostate cancer, prostatitis (inflammation and infection of the prostate) or benign enlargement of the prostate gland. In fact, when many of the popular supplements, such as saw palmetto, have been tested, the results have shown no benefit.

Popular remedies that have been promoted for prostate health include:
  • zinc supplements
  • vitamin E
  • selenium
  • soy
  • some general herbal remedies that are supposed to decrease the rate of cancer, help with urination and promote sexual health
None of these have any scientific support. And actual harm has been associated with selenium and Vitamin E.

The one vitamin supplement that is helpful is vitamin D. There is evidence that this vitamin has many positive effects, including the possibility that it can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. (Generally, you need 400 to 1000 units per day of vitamin D.)

Because of these reasons, the general advice is to save your money when it comes to taking prostate supplements.

If you tried one of the supplements and it had a positive effect, I would be encouraged and think you should consider continuing it, even though the data does not support its use in the general population. But you want to be sure that the all the ingredients are safe.
Harvard Medical School 2011 Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

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Harvard Medical School 2011 Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Prostate disorders usually develop after age 50, but some men experience them at a younger age. The three most common conditions are prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and prostate...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.