The 5 best vitamins and supplements to support men’s health
Sadly, it’s a paradox of modern life that we are overfed yet undernourished. Due to factors such as low food quality and sedentary lifestyles, supplementation seems widely necessary for many to reach optimal levels of critical nutrients. Read on to learn about five important vitamins and supplements men of any age should consider.
Take a personalized approach to supplementation
American men consume far more calories than are needed for survival: according to the US Center for Disease Control, men put away a whopping 2,475 calories per day on average. That being the case, you would think men would also be getting enough essential vitamins and nutrients to support great health.
Due to genetics, location, food availability, and lifestyle, everyone has unique nutritional needs. For instance, if a person consumes a lot of leafy greens, they might have adequate potassium levels. But if that same person rarely gets any direct sunlight, he could be lacking in vitamin D.
For this reason, multivitamins are not always the best solution for solving vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A more personalized approach provides the proper supplementation for your individual profile without overdoing certain ones you may not need, preventing an excess.
There are other factors that help determine what nutritional supplementation you might need, such as family history, activity level, and stress levels. In addition, variables like alcohol intake, caffeine consumption, and even travel can play a role. For example, those that consume alcohol in excess are at particularly high risk of having B vitamin deficiencies.
There are thousands of products on the market, but we’ve done the exhaustive research to identify the five key supplements that can help men address common deficiencies, and the highest priorities. If you want to look, feel, and perform your best, these supplements are worth checking out.
5 important vitamins and supplements men should consider
1. Vitamin D: a key factor in testosterone levels
It’s very common for Americans to be deficient in vitamin D—a 2009 article in Scientific American noted that over 75% of American teens and adults had insufficient levels. Why is that a big deal?
For one thing, vitamin D may boost testosterone levels in men. Further research is still needed, but this suggests that a lack of vitamin D could be a cause for low testosterone. Because low testosterone makes men prone to a variety of health issues, such as sleep apnea, low metabolism, libido and fatigue, maintaining proper vitamin D levels is a critical part of men’s health.
Low vitamin D also increases the risk of heart disease and decreases bone density. This is especially essential for older men, who are generally more prone to falls, particularly combined with the low muscle strength low testosterone may cause.
2. Magnesium is crucial to overall wellness
Magnesium is a mineral that is important for so many bodily functions, it’s hard to keep track of them all. It is critical for blood glucose control, protein synthesis, nerve function, and more.
As with vitamin D, you might be surprised to learn that deficiencies of this essential mineral are common. According to the USDA, 57% of the US population does not meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium.
One way to up your magnesium intake is to consume more foods that are high in magnesium, such as spinach, almonds, black beans, and bananas.
On top of increasing your consumption of magnesium-rich foods, supplementation is also important. Research indicates that magnesium supplementation can increase blood levels of testosterone, especially when coupled with exercise. Another study found that those who took magnesium supplements had significant strength gains.
Make sure to get the recommended dose of magnesium to promote strength, sexual health, and your all around well-being. According to the National Institute of Health, it is recommended that men who are 19-30 years old consume 400 mg of magnesium daily, while men aged 31 years old or more should aim for 420 mg. When supplementing with magnesium, the dose for adults should not exceed 350 mg unless prescribed by a doctor.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladd, an integrative physician, says, “I find so many patients feeling better when they add magnesium to their supplement regimens. This supports the data that so many of us are deficient. The most common reasons I will recommend a patient I am working with take magnesium are heart palpitations, anxiety, muscle cramps, or constipation.”
3. Boron: the trace mineral with a big impact
Boron is a trace mineral that is found in foods such as raisins, almonds, prunes, and chickpeas. Men who consume a diet low in fruits and vegetables could be at risk for deficiency, which causes health issues such as impaired bone health, brain function, and immune response.
While not as well-known as some of the other vitamins and minerals on this list, boron still exhibits some impressive properties. For instance, in one study, boron-enriched diets resulted in a significant decrease in the risk for prostate. According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III data, the risk of prostate cancer was 52% lower in men whose diets supplied more than 1.8 mg/day of boron compared with those whose dietary boron intake was less than or equal to 0.9 mg/day. In short, increased intake of boron led to a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
4. Omega-3’s: a proven defense against inflammation
Omega-3’s are polyunsaturated fatty acids renowned for their anti-inflammatory effects. Furthermore, they have been shown to help with chronic medical conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and asthma. If that’s not enough, they have also been shown to help mitigate the effects of alzheimer’s disease.
Omega-3’s are important because consuming them helps people maintain the proper ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Most men consume far more of the inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids--from foods such as refined vegetable oils--than is considered healthy. Men should aim to consume these fats in a more balanced ratio, meaning a greater intake of omega 3’s and cutting down on so many omega-6’s. Often, men consume up to 15 times more omega-6’s than omega-3’s!
Omega-3’s are famously found in fish, but they are also present in high amounts in foods such as flaxseeds, sardines, and walnuts. If you aren’t getting enough omega-3’s from your diet, then you can get a powerful boost through supplementation with fish oil. Fish oil is rich in omega-3’s, and it’s recommended to supplement with at least 1.6 g/day if you do not get enough omega-3’s in your diet.
Keep in mind that not all fish oils are created equal. The integrity of the oils are impacted by how well preserved they are, so make sure you are sourcing your supplements from high quality suppliers.
5. Saw Palmetto Extract: a traditional remedy for prostate health
Saw palmetto is a shrub tree with dark red berries, native to the United States, Europe and Africa. The palmetto berries were a popular source of food and medicine for Native Americans long before European settlement. They also have a long history of use in traditional medicine, often being prescribed for reproductive and urinary tract issues.
The berries have been traditionally used for prostate health for many years, and early clinical data suggests the saw palmetto extract may help to maintain a healthy prostate; however, larger, more recent clinical data did not support its efficacy.
More research is needed to better understand saw palmetto’s possible mechanism of action. It’s theorized to help with hormone balance in a way that protects the prostate from enlarging. It is worth discussing the potential benefits of supplementation with your medical provider.
If you decide to take saw palmetto extract be sure to look for a high-quality product, as the extraction process and formulation can play a huge role in saw palmetto’s results.
Take control of your health by starting with nutrition
Men who want to maintain good health should eat a varied diet rich in nutrient-dense foods, that includes wild-caught seafood or an omega-3 supplement. But that is easier said than done. Stress, poor and convenient food choices, and lack of physical activity can all cause men to be deficient in certain nutrients.
We are all unique, so it’s critical to find out which of these supplements will work best for you. This convenient online survey can help determine what you might be lacking nutritionally, and provide a personalized daily vitamin regimen.
If necessary, upping the intake of vitamin D, magnesium, boron, omega-3’s and saw palmetto extract can support energy, help promote sexual health, and generally enable men to live healthier lives.