Research shows that men are missing out on some key nutrients for their health. Here’s the 411 on what you need — and where you can get it.
You know the rules for healthy living — exercise, eat right, sleep well, relaxation and some stress management strategies — but how many of them do you actually follow?
Most men can get almost all the vitamins and minerals they need if they pay attention to nutrition but not all men do pay enough attention, and nutritional needs can change with age. For example, as we age we need more vitamin D and growing evidence shows that most of us are living with low levels. In fact, research shows that men of all ages have deficits in nearly every nutritional category. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, men need to eat 350 percent more dark green vegetables and 150 percent more fruit in order to meet federal guidelines.
Here is your guide to Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Men’s Health.
1. Vitamin D
It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from food and high sun exposure may also be not enough. High grain diets can interfere with the uptake of vitamin D so your levels really need to be tested and at least over one hundred.
What you need to know about vitamin D:
- Vitamin D becomes even more important with age, because it’s needed to absorb calcium and helps prevent weak muscles and bones.
- Recent research also suggests that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk for colon cancer, and one study found that men with low levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to have a heart attack as men with normal levels.
- On the other hand, too much vitamin D can cause fatigue and muscle weakness, so you need to know the numbers.
- Good nutrition sources for vitamin D include salmon, sardines, cod liver oil, milk, cheese, egg yolk, orange juice, yogurt.
- Good quality vitamin D supplements are also available and can be a more reliable source of adequate vitamin D intake.
Folate, or folic acid, is one of the important B vitamins. Folate may help protect men and women from heart disease because it prevents the build-up of homocysteine, a substance that your body needs to build protein but that can lead to heart and blood vessel disease if produced in excess. Homocysteine levels can be easily tested and is recommended if heart disease is a problem in your family.
What you need to know about folate:
- Eating a few servings of leafy green vegetables, broccoli or beans daily will give you a good supply. Other great nutritional sources of folate include lima beans, spinach, asparagus, oranges, strawberries, and avocado.
3. Vitamin B12
Older men, in particular, may have an increased need for this B vitamin, which boosts brain health. Vitamin B12 supports the normal functioning of the nervous system, including memory. Depression and dementia are symptoms of a low serum B12.
What you need to know about vitamin B12:
- B12 may be included in your daily multivitamin. Great food sources for B12 include salmon, shrimp, beef, chicken, clams, eggs, milk, and cheese.
- Vitamin B12 needs hydrochloric acid which is found in the Stomach so that it can be absorbed properly and if we have a digestive weakness we may be low even if we have an adequate diet.
4. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for maintaining good vision and skin. It is also known as the anti-infective vitamin because of its role in supporting activities of the immune system.
What you need to know about vitamin A:
- The best nutrition sources for vitamin A are carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, apricots, cantaloupe, broccoli, eggs, milk, and cod liver oil. However vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin and if you are on cholesterol medication which blocks fat getting into your body you may be deficient and may need to supplement.
5. Vitamin C for Healthy Ageing
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that serves a protective role in the body by reducing free radicals that can damage healthy cells. High intake of vitamin-C foods can help slow signs of ageing.
What you need to know about vitamin C:
- Not enough vitamin C can result in anaemia and scurvy. Scurvy is still seen in some malnourished older adults.
- Too much vitamin C will not hurt you, because your body can’t store it, but it can give you an upset stomach.
- Great sources of vitamin C include oranges, bell pepper, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, lemons, limes, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, and asparagus.
Zinc is an essential nutrient for men and acts a catalyst in various processes in the body such as thyroid hormone metabolism, and sperm health. Like vitamin C, it is also an antioxidant which protects our cells against damage and slows the ageing process.
What you need to know about zinc:
- Good sources are ginger oysters and nuts and pumpkin seeds.
- Testing is easily done at the clinic to check your zinc levels.
Magnesium is another forgotten nutrient and is one that is extremely important, especially for men. Magnesium is crucial in relaxing our nervous system (something whch men can’t always do easily) and it is involved in hundreds of processes in the body so deficiencies can be linked to many conditions. Signs of deficiency are cramps, muscle weakness, heart rythym problems, anxiety fatigue, and sleep problems just to name a few. Good sources are nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables like kale, avocado, brown rice and bananas to name a few.
There seems to be so many things to take. What should you do?
For most men, the bottom line on vitamins and minerals is this, eat a well-balanced diet including the foods suggested above. But remember our nutritional needs increase with stress, during illness and our foods may be deficient in certain key elements. Don’t wait until you have a problem, be proactive and stay well. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above then talk to your health care practitioner for recommendations regarding the right supplements for you, rather than self prescribing.
November is men’s health month at the clinic and we are offering some specials for all the men to get them healthy. They are mentioned in the upcoming newsletter so have a browse and stay well.