It can be tricky for men focused on either maintaining their health or reaching a specific health goal to know where the gaps are and where they may need some added nutritional support. Here are four good places to start.
According to an Ohio State University study analyzing collected nutritional data in the US, 75% to 80% of Americans don't eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. Because of this, perhaps as much as 94% of us are not getting the daily recommended intake of Vitamin D, 50% of us lack the recommended intake of magnesium, and 44% aren't getting enough calcium. These are vital nutrients the body needs to function properly.
In a perfect world, the essential vitamins and minerals we need should come from the foods we eat, but as the numbers above clearly show, we do not live in a perfect world. As a result, the addition of some properly managed, high-quality supplements can go a long way to filling in the gaps. Below are some evidence-based, general recommendations specifically targeted at men. Broadly, men can be prone to overlooking the more subtle ways health and wellness can be supported by introducing a few key vitamins and minerals.
- Vitamin D: (the 'sunshine vitamin') - It is well understood that Vitamin D is an essential nutrient critical for healthy bones and a range of other vital functions; however, some research has indicated it may help support colon and prostate health. It is estimated that 70% of Americans lack sufficient amounts of Vitamin D, but this estimate was before mandated stay-at-home orders. Though we don't know what the consequences are of these past months, it's safe to assume that we have gotten a lot less sun, and thus, a lot less vitamin D. (The RDA for men 19 to 50 years old is 600 IU/day in the D3 form, but recent research suggests higher amounts (1500 to 2000 IU/Day) may be appropriate -- it depends on your current vitamin D status. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional to get an accurate vitamin D level from your blood.)
- Magnesium: This macro-mineral can only be obtained through diet or supplementation. Magnesium builds bones and teeth, promotes healthy blood pressure regulation and blood sugar levels, enables muscles to contract, aids nerve transmission, helps blood to clot, and promotes healthy enzyme activation. (The RDA for men 19 to 30 is 400 mg per day, and men 31 to 50 is 420 mg per day.)
- Zinc: Present in various enzymes, zinc is needed to produce proteins and genetic material, promoting wound healing, production of sperm, normal growth and sexual maturation, and immune system function. Additionally, one study has linked zinc to healthy testosterone regulation. (There are two standard dosages, but the low dose at 5 to 10 mg per day works well from a preventative standpoint.)
- Probiotics: The importance of maintaining a healthy digestive system, not just for men, for overall health and wellness cannot be overstated. When used properly and taken in appropriate doses, probiotics can improve the makeup of the gut microbiome, which, in turn, affects the body's key functions, including immunity, metabolism, and mood. (Dosage depends on the product, but a daily course is recommended.)