Men who take note of their well-being have a general idea of which foods give them the nutrients they need for optimal health. But sometimes, even those guys aren't always sure which are the most important vitamins for men or the benefits.
Either way, we all need these. Failure to get enough essential vitamins can lead to risky health outcomes.
While they're all important in their own unique way, we've selected a few of essential vitamins for men that we believe men should pay particular attention to.
This sunshine vitamin is commonly known for its bone strengthening benefits. But new research has tied vitamin D to both cancer and diabetes prevention, immune health, heart health and even seasonal depression — all important for men’s health. 1
Further, there is some evidence that vitamin D can help increase testosterone levels for men. 2
Men could be at risk of deficiency if they don’t typically see sunlight often. Staying out of the sun doesn't provide an opportunity for the skin (our largest organ) to soak in vitamin D rays. Getting out and about in the sun a few times a week for 5 to 30 minutes can ensure enough vitamin D intake.
For men, the suggested amount is 15 mcg of the vitamin each day — and men over 70 should get 20mcg daily.
Iron helps with carrying oxygen to blood. Sounds important, right? It is. Most iron in our bodies is found in hemoglobin, where it takes oxygen from the lungs and distributes it throughout the body. Not enough iron = not enough oxygen.
A lack of iron (or oxygen) in the body can lead to symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, or headaches.
Men who have cancer, are frequent blood donors, have heart problems, inflammatory conditions, or recent surgeries or conditions that could lead to things like internal bleeding are all at a greater risk for being iron decificent.
Luckily for men, Iron deficiency is less common than for women, but it can still happen.
Iron rich foods are fairly easy to come by. Legumes and beans, oysters, dark chocolate, liver, spinach and other dark green vegetables, tomatoes, nuts and potatoes are all good sources of iron.
Men should aim to get roughly eight milligrams of iron per day.
Magnesium plays a role in blood pressure, glucose control, nerve and muscle function, energy production, DNA synthesis, muscle contractions and a normal heart rhythm.
While magnesium levels are difficult to measure because most of the magnesium in your body is within your muscles and bones, deficiencies are rare.
However, a magnesium deficiency can lead to heart problems including stroke, high blood pressure, artery issues, heart attacks and even sudden death. 3
It can also cause seizures, nausea, muscle cramps, vomiting and fatigue. People most at risk for deficiency are those with absorption issues or diseases like Crohn’s, type 2 diabetes, alcoholism and elderly people.
There are a number of food sources containing magnesium including nuts (cashews, peanuts, and almonds), spinach, soy products, avocado, rice, potatoes, yogurt, and more.
Men should try to get 400mg daily. 4
Vitamin B12 is used to form healthy red blood cells, nerves, and DNA.
Few people are deficient in vitamin B12, as the body can store several years’ worth of it. 5
But for those who do experience deficiency, it can lead to fatigue, weakness, constipation, weight loss, loss of appetite, neurological changes, dementia and memory problems, depression, confusion, and even difficulty with balance.
Men who eat vegetarian or vegan diets are most at risk of deficiency because the natural food sources of vitamin B12 are often animal based like liver, salmon, tuna, sirloin steak, milk, yogurt, cheese and the like.
Supplements are one option, yes. However, the body only absorbs about 10mcg of a 500mcg vitamin B12 supplement, according to the National Institutes of Health.
All in all, men should try and get 2.4 mcg of B12 per day.
When it comes to trace minerals, Zinc is a biggie right down to the cellular level, where it plays a role in cell reproduction and DNA synthesis. And for young people, Zinc plays a primary role in growth development.
But for men of all ages, Zinc aids in immune health and wound healing. And at least one study has linked it to testosterone regulation as well. 6
Signs of zinc deficiency include infections, hair loss, problems with senses of smell and taste, skin sores and poor wound healing. Deficiency is most common for those whose diet is rich in grains or lacking in animal protein.
The best sources of zinc are animal sources, always. The zinc in plants isn’t easy for your body to use or absorb, leaving food like beef, pork and oysters with some of the richest concentrations of zinc. Cashews, some fortified cereals, chickpeas, and almonds are also great sources.
Curious to learn more on what vitamins men should take for real nutrition benefits? Check our Daily Essentials bites, built for humankind, and packed with all five of these minerals in one real food bite.