The Best Vitamins For Men
Why should we even care about the best vitamins for men when our caveman ancestors didn’t give it a second thought?
I mean, modern man has it easy.
No more hunting for our meals (for most people anyway), no sabretooth tigers waiting around the corner to jump on you, and houses that have a lockable front door rather than the more open style of a cave.
This is where it gets tricky. As a modern man you also have a lot more on your plate compared to the good old caveman days of hunting, eating, napping and making sweet, sweet love.
You need to balance work, family life, social life, exercise and relaxation time.
And while you get to do it in an environment sans tigers, it contains many more constant sources of stress that can creep up on you over time.
Add rising environmental pollution and increasingly deficient soils due to intense agriculture and over farming, and you start to realise that it’s not too hard to develop a nutritional deficiency or two.
So what can you do to make sure you don’t become nutritionally deficient in this modern day and age? Let’s explore your options...
Why Are Vitamins And Minerals So Important For Men?
Most people these days can benefit from some additional nutritional insurance in addition to their diet.
Even those with carefully planned, highly nutritious diets tend to stick to their favourite meals and foods, and over time may find themselves lacking certain nutrients.
Throw on top of this the challenges of modern life, like full time work, exercise, family commitments and trying to maintain a social life, and you may find it difficult to stick to the optimal diet each and every day.
Routines change, life and surprises happen, but your ability to achieve an intake of all the essential nutrients you need shouldn’t suffer.
This is where knowing the best vitamins for men comes in handy.
When it comes to nutrition, men need certain nutrients more than their female counterparts do and many of these can be difficult to track down via modern food sources.
If you follow a strict diet template of vegetarianism, veganism, paleo or keto you need to be even more educated around which nutrients you may not be getting enough of.
It’s not enough to ensure you’re eating a good amount of the right nutrients. You also need to be aware of any factors that could actively lower your levels of certain vitamins and minerals.
Caffeine, alcohol, sugar and even environmental stresses such as pollution can all have a negative impact on your nutritional status.
The ever declining levels of important nutrients in modern soils equates to a decline in the level of nutrients transferred to the foods we eat.
This means, now more than ever, it’s time to consider a nutritional backup in the form of supplementation. That list of best vitamins for men should be your go to.
The Benefits Of The Optimum Vitamin Intake
Many men take a generic multivitamin with the aim of improving general health and perhaps preventing future disease.
The problem with this approach, is that it’s broad and unfocused. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother with supplementation at all.
For instance, taking very specific supplements can help achieve improvements in certain areas of health such as:
Faster fat loss
Prostate health and sexual performance
Pre, during and post workout performance and recovery
Increased testosterone levels
With the right nutritional supplementation taken at the right time, you can reap all of these benefits.
But don’t stop there. The best vitamins for men support the above while also providing long term benefits such as increased longevity and disease prevention.
The Best Vitamins For Men To Overcome Common Deficiencies
Time and time again, the same deficiencies come up, making covering these a great place to start.
The best vitamins for men address these common deficiencies, help to correct symptoms like:
Poor immune function
Low sex drive
Poor workout recovery time
Poor sexual performance
And let’s not forget very serious issues such as the risk of prostate cancer. The right vitamins offer increased protection against many forms of disease.
How To Spot Vitamin And Mineral Deficiency
Signs of a Zinc deficiency:
Poor skin quality
Slow wound healing
Weak, streaky fingernails
Poor immune system and frequent infections
Low Testosterone levels that can lead to low energy, low sex drive and even depression
Signals you may need to increase your Selenium intake…
Deficiency in selenium can result in similar symptoms to those caused by a zinc deficiency, so the specific issue may not always be so obvious.
Both of these minerals work well together to assist the immune system and maintain healthy testosterone levels. So it makes sense to include both in your regime if you’re experiencing the above symptoms.
Selenium also plays a big part in thyroid function. Low selenium levels can cause symptoms of hypothyroidism such as:
Decreased mental performance
A sluggish metabolism
Symptoms of insufficient Vitamin D:
Fatigue and general weakness
Reduced bone density
Lower serotonin levels, and with it, a higher risk of depression
A weaker immune system
Lower testosterone levels
So while the best vitamins for men to take should include these three essentials, it’s crucial to listen to what your body is saying.
Monitor your symptoms, they could be telling you everything you need to know.
The Science Behind The Best Vitamins For Men’s Health
Along with the zinc, selenium, vitamin D trifecta, vitamin A, B12, calcium and magnesium are also extremely important. Let’s take a look at why in a quick breakdown for each.
Zinc is an extremely important mineral and has many roles to play in the body. Its 3 main functions are as a:
Catalyst or cofactor needed for chemical reactions
Building material to create proteins and healthy membranes
Regulator ensuring DNA is copied without error, genes are expressed properly and cells signal to each other correctly
In men, zinc also plays another very important role in hormonal and metabolic health. It can boost testosterone levels and maintain them at a higher level.
Regular exercise can deplete zinc levels over time, so if you fit this category, it’s even more important to keep your intake up.
If you work hard and train hard and you’re still not performing as well as you used to, zinc supplementation could be the answer.
Give it a go for a month and see how you feel, I’m confident you’ll notice a difference.
Selenium is a mineral not commonly found in most foods, so it’s quite easy to develop a deficiency.
Selenium, like zinc, plays an important role in boosting the immune system. It also supports thyroid health and metabolism, and acts as an all round antioxidant - important in disease prevention.
And most notably for men, selenium is essential for maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
Vitamin A has many roles in the body related to immune health, skin health and eyesight.
But for men, the most important function of vitamin A is in maintaining healthy hormone levels and healthy reproductive organs.
The sunshine vitamin, one of my absolute favourite vitamins, is a warrior on the side of immune health, skin health, mental health, and healthy testosterone levels.
While you can get it from some foods such as egg yolks and fatty fish, the absolute best way to get your vitamin D levels up is to go out and get some sunshine.
The sun’s UV rays trigger a reaction in your body which results in the production of vitamin D. If you’re not getting 20 minutes of sunshine most days of the week, I definitely recommend you take a vitamin D3 supplement.
This applies to almost everyone in certain parts of the world, and even more so during the colder, cloudier months.
Iron deficiency isn’t common in men. In fact, excess iron is much more common.
Unlike women, who shed iron during their monthly menstrual cycle, the only way men generally get this opportunity is by regularly donating blood (which is a good thing for other obvious reasons!).
So why am I talking about iron? It’s important to understand that vitamin B12, along with iron, are essential ingredients, required by your body to produce red blood cells.
Vitamin B12 also helps with lowering homocysteine, an inflammatory amino acid in the body. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with heart disease, stroke and mood disorders such as depression.
You probably associate calcium with strong bones thanks to all the encouragement you received as a kid to drink milk every day. But calcium provides a lot more than you think.
Calcium is required for muscular contractions, not only when pumping your biceps, but for all muscles in your body, including your heart.
If you’re an active guy who consumes a lot of protein, your calcium requirement is most certainly higher than average.
Why? Calcium is often released into the bloodstream to buffer against the increased acidity that comes with a high protein intake. You need to replenish your calcium by increasing your intake.
Calcium also helps with vitamin B12 absorption, a very important vitamin as mentioned above.
And to circle back yet again to sex… Calcium helps convert cholesterol into sex hormones such as testosterone.
Have you ever experienced the dreaded midnight calf cramp? When you wake up to a screamingly painful, tight, cramped calf muscle?
If not, you’re very lucky. But if you ask around, it’s likely some of your fittest friends have experienced it.
If you have, congratulations on surviving the ordeal. I know only too well just how painful it is.
Now the most likely cause of this dreaded cramp, along with most muscle cramps, is low magnesium levels.
Magnesium deficiency is quite common among active people, especially those that drink a lot of water, consume a lot of caffeine and sweat a lot during exercise.
Not only can magnesium help prevent cramps and muscle spasms, it can also improve sleep quality, reduce muscle soreness, anxiety and depression, and maintain hormonal balance.
Which Foods Contain The Best Vitamins For Men?
Head straight for meat, nuts, eggs, leafy greens and, although it’s not a food, sunshine. As I mentioned, a regular dose of sun is critically important for optimal health.
Most kinds of meat contain vitamin B12 and zinc, but red meat in particular is your absolute best source for these. For bonus points like extra omega 3 fats, try to go grass-fed.
Eating just 2 to 3 Brazil nuts per day is enough to achieve your daily requirement for selenium and is safer and more absorbable than a supplement.
Most nuts contain zinc and magnesium, with cashews the best choice for zinc and both almonds and Brazil nuts the best choices for magnesium.
Egg yolks are one of the only dietary sources of vitamin D. Eggs also contain vitamin K which is important on its own, but has the added feature of helping your body absorb vitamin D.
Added to this, eggs are a valuable source of saturated fats and cholesterol, which are especially important for the reason we keep coming back to - testosterone levels.
Leafy greens, particularly the darker types like spinach and kale, contain good amounts of magnesium, vitamin B12, iron and even some zinc.
Having said that, these plants also contain a lot of “anti-nutrients” which can interfere with the absorption of the nutrients you need.
So it’s best to consume them lightly cooked, by throwing them into a fry pan for a few minutes, or quickly steaming or blanching them.
I like tossing a few big handfuls of baby spinach into the pan as I’m finishing up my grass fed beef. This way it wilts to a smaller size while also absorbing some of the delicious flavour from the meat. It’s an easy and tasty way to dramatically increase your leafy green intake.
I know, this isn’t a food. But unless you’re eating mega doses of egg yolk, you’re going to need another source of vitamin D.
The best part is, your body is ready to make vitamin D on demand. All you have to do is get some UVB exposure. That’s right, sunshine!
Getting 20 minutes per day of sunshine is ideal. What you might not realise is that the darker your skin, the more sunshine you need. This is because skin pigment acts as a natural sunscreen and makes it harder for UV rays to penetrate your skin.
I get that it’s not always practical to be in the sun every single day. You might be stuck in an office cubicle, or experiencing a run of cold, cloudy weather.
In this case, and especially during winter, I highly recommend you take a vitamin D3 supplement.
Many people find taking vitamin D3 a few months each year makes a massive difference to their overall health.
The Best Vitamins For Men On Specific Diets
These days you can find a new diet trend every week. I believe it’s important to experiment and find what works for you, so while there are endless possibilities, we’ll cover just a few.
Let’s start with vegetarian and vegan diets, then jump into others like keto and paleo.
VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN
For vegetarians and vegans, the risk of deficiencies in iron, zinc, and vitamins B12, D and K is higher.
As a side note to this, saturated fats can help with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins - important ingredients required to maintain those all important testosterone levels.
If you’re a Vegetarian you still have a shot at getting enough of these nutrients by eating eggs and other products containing animal fats, such as cheese.
Vegans, however, don’t have many options when it comes to saturated fats in the diet. Coconut oil and palm oil are your best bet.
Given saturated fats are critically important for men’s health, I strongly recommended incorporating one or both of these into your routine.
KETO AND PALEO
The highest risk phase for a strict ketogenic diet is the first few transition weeks.
As you make the switch, you may be at risk of developing a deficiency in certain minerals due to the loss of stored glucose (glycogen) and the water attached to it.
These include sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
The same risk applies to the paleo diet. Particularly if you’re not consuming enough carbohydrates via paleo approved carb sources such as root vegetables like potato and sweet potato.
As the paleo diet focuses on real, fresh foods, there is an increased risk of developing low sodium levels.
You can counteract this simply by adding more salt and natural sauces to your foods.
A pinch of sea salt or himalayan salt with your first glass of water for the day is a good option, as is coconut water or slightly salted water after a big sweaty workout.
Choosing The Right Supplement
By now you may be considering taking a nutritional supplement to help you cover all your bases and prevent the issues that come with the deficiencies described above.
This begs an important question: Which supplement should you take?
With so many options on the market and thousands of new supplements released each year, the choice can be confusing and overwhelming.
For a long time, multivitamin tablets have been the dominant choice for most people who want to cover their bases and prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Before grabbing the nearest multivitamin, think about this...
Most multivitamin supplements contain synthetic, hard to absorb versions of the vitamins and minerals you need.
Add to this the fact that they are in the form of a hard to digest, compressed tablet, and it is very unlikely you will be able to absorb many of the nutrients contained within.
This is where the ‘expensive urine’ anecdote comes in, implying that all you’re really doing by taking a multivitamin, is creating urine that contains a whole lot of unabsorbed ingredients.
As well as being difficult to absorb, some synthetic vitamin supplements can actually be dangerous.
Companies often compensate for low quality ingredients by increasing the dosage. An increased dosage means increased risk of toxicity, particularly from fat soluble vitamins such as A and D, and minerals such as zinc and selenium.
There is a healthier alternative to synthetic multivitamins...
All-in-one greens powders are gaining popularity as a more powerful alternative to traditional multivitamins.
Greens powders that use fruits, vegetables, superfoods and natural sources of key vitamins and minerals provide your body with the nutrients it needs in a highly absorbable, easy to digest form.
Now of course, eating a diet high in nutritious, whole foods is always the best way to achieve optimal health in the long term, and this is unlikely to ever change.
But considering changes in your routine, changes in the environment, changes in the food supply and your natural tendency to stick to foods you know and enjoy, it’s a wise move to add some additional “nutritional insurance” to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need each day.
Where safety is concerned, greens powders are favoured over synthetic multivitamins.
Not only do powders contain highly absorbable, natural sources of vitamins and minerals, they also contain the right amounts of each.
In a powder there’s no need to jack up the doses. Each component is added in the right amount, ready for your body to absorb.
As you can see, it’s not just about finding the best vitamins for men, it’s about using the best source of these vitamins. Even those of us with excellent diets stand to benefit from some additional nutritional insurance.
And now, more than ever, there are great options on the market to cover all your nutritional bases with a very low risk and a very high reward.