Eating a fairly well-balanced diet is a great step towards getting more essential nutrients in your body. But even for those who eat fairly well-balanced, and especially for those with less-than-balanced diets, it can be difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals recommended for long term health. Read on to learn about important vitamins and supplements men of any age should consider.
Each person has unique nutritional needs and goals, so personalizing the supplementation process becomes essential for achieving desired results. Your unique nutritional needs might depend on your current dietary intake, activity level, stress level, genetics and family history, where you live, and food availability. 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.
Whether it's supporting muscle growth and recovery, maintaining cardiovascular health, boosting energy levels, or enhancing cognitive function, personalized supplementation can play a significant role.
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Keep reading to explore the supplements most worthwhile for men.
When it comes to optimizing men's health through nutrition, there are several key vitamins and supplements that can play a beneficial role. In this section, we will explore the essential nutrients that men should consider incorporating into their supplementation routine to address common deficiencies and to look, feel, and perform your best.
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 don't get recommended levels. Why is that a big deal?
For one thing, vitamin D may boost healthy testosterone levels in men. Further research is still needed, but this suggests that a lack of vitamin D could be a contributing factor for low testosterone. Because low testosterone makes men prone to a variety of health issues, such as sleep, energy, metabolism, and sexual challenges, maintaining proper vitamin D levels is a critical part of men’s health.
Vitamin D also plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health by enhancing calcium absorption. Additionally, vitamin D is associated with good immune function. However, many men are deficient in vitamin D due to difficulty in getting enough time in the sun each day or eating enough vitamin D-rich foods, so supplementation can be helpful.
As with vitamin D, you might be surprised to learn that people don't get enough of this essential mineral. According to the US survey NHANES 2010-2017, over 50% 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 pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, cashews, black beans, bananas, and spinach.
On top of increasing your consumption of magnesium-rich foods, supplementation may also be important. Research indicates that magnesium supplementation can support blood levels of testosterone, especially when coupled with exercise in healthy men. Another study found that those who took magnesium supplements supported muscular health.
Make sure to get the recommended dose of magnesium to promote strength, sexual health, and your overall well-being. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium in men is 400 - 420 mg daily, from both diet and supplementation.
Fun fact: Although we call Astaxanthin the “Coral King”, our Care/of Astaxanthin supplement is actually sourced from Himalayan water fed algae, not coral.
Astaxanthin is a powerful carotenoid with antioxidant properties and has a vibrant pinkish-red (coral) hue responsible for the color in foods like crabs, lobster, salmon, and shrimp. Astaxanthin has supportive benefits for the brain, heart, skin, and eyes.
This antioxidant can also support athletic performance and recovery. Studies done on athletes have shown that astaxanthin can manage oxidative stress. Oxidative stress happens when there are more free radicals than antioxidants in the body. In one study, participants consumed high fat milkshakes (to induce oxidative stress) followed by supplementation of 6 mg of astaxanthin for four weeks. Levels of oxidative stress were lower throughout the period in the supplementation group compared to the placebo group. Another study done over a 4 week period of training also noted higher levels of the antioxidant glutathione in blood samples of those who supplemented with 6mg of astaxanthin in comparison to those who took a placebo.
Omega-3’s are polyunsaturated fatty acids renowned for numerous potential health benefits. They have been shown to help support cardiovascular health, joint health, and more. If that’s not enough, they have also been shown to help support brain health.
Omega-3’s are important because consuming them helps people maintain the proper ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, which ideally is 1:1. However, many people in modern times consume far more omega-6 fatty acids, moving closer to a 16:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. High intake of omega-6 fats often comes from eating a lot of foods containing refined vegetable oils, which can be unhealthy in high amounts. Men should aim to eat a balanced diet to achieve a healthier ratio, meaning a greater intake of omega 3’s and cutting down on so many omega-6’s.
Omega-3’s are famously found in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, but they are also present in high amounts in foods such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. The American Heart Association recommends consuming fatty fish at least twice a week. 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 for men to get at least 1.6 g/day of omega-3 daily.
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.
Caution when taking fish oil with other medication such as blood thinners. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting supplements.
Even a person who generally makes healthy choices may not always get enough vitamins and minerals each day. A multivitamin can ensure adequate micronutrient intake and serve as a foundation to work on optimal health. It can also be an easy way to target common micronutrient nutritional deficiencies in an easy, all-in-one convenient supplement.
Probiotics are microbes that are naturally found in the gut and support digestive health and immune function. They can be taken as supplements or found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha. There are thousands of probiotic species out there with different potential benefits associated with each one. Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, and Saccharomyces are some of the most common and well-researched.
If you want to support your digestive health and immune function, you may want to consider taking a probiotic.
Creatine is an amino acid mainly stored in muscles where it provides and can enhance strength and power output during a workout. It is commonly found in pre-workout supplements or as a supplement on its own as creatine monohydrate. While creatine is naturally produced in certain amounts in the body, supplementation can significantly boost creatine levels in the body. In one study, creatine supplementation significantly increased muscle strength in men when combined with resistance training. Creatine can even help reduce age-related muscle loss when paired with regular strength training.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition’s position in 2007, creatine is the most effective physical performance enhancing supplement currently for athletes and is safe even for long-term use.
Protein is an important part of every balanced diet. While it is perhaps best known for its role as a building block of muscles, protein can also support blood sugar balance, weight management, and long term energy.
A big role of protein in metabolic health is providing satiety. According to the protein leverage hypothesis, hunger signals may continue until a target protein intake is reached, regardless of how many calories, carbs, or fats are consumed in the process.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein is at least 0.8-1g/kilogram of body weight per day. However, the RDA represents the minimum amount required to meet basic nutritional needs. Some experts contend that a higher intake, ranging from 1.2-1.5 g/kg of body weight, may be more optimal for preserving lean body mass and supporting a healthy metabolism, particularly for individuals who engage in regular physical activity or are older adults.
Getting enough protein is essential but not always easy for some. Protein powder can be a great addition to help bridge the gap to meet daily protein needs, as well as just act as a quick substitute for protein without the need to spend time cooking. There are types of protein powder for all preferences. A plant-based protein powder ideally should contain a mix of plant proteins, like pea, pumpkin seed, and hemp proteins, to get a more complete set of amino acids. Animal-based protein powders widely available include whey, collagen, casein, and egg white proteins.
Fiber is a non-digestible component of plant-based foods that is important to support digestive health, immune function, heart health, and a healthy metabolism.
Since fiber passes through the gut undigested by human enzymes, it is left to feed gut bacteria, which can help to boost levels of healthy bacteria and balanced gut microbiome. Fiber also supports regular bowel movements, which is important to aid proper excretion of unwanted metabolites and substances from the body.
Getting enough fiber in your meals is a great way to boost satiety, since fiber can help slow down the rise in blood sugar when digesting food. Fiber can also boost cardiovascular health, likely from the beneficial impact on cholesterol as well as the gut microbiome, which in turn can impact the cardiovascular system.
The USDA Dietary Guidelines suggest a daily fiber intake of 14g per 1,000 calories, which comes out to be on average 31-34 g for men ages 19 to 50, and 28g for men 51 years or older. You can increase your dietary fiber intake by incorporating more fiber-rich plant-based foods that are whole or minimally processed in your meals. Supplementing with fiber can also help you meet your daily fiber goals.
Care/of’s Chia-Flax powder contains 4 grams of fiber per scoop from real foods including chia seeds, flaxseeds, and pea fiber. This powder can be easily added to smoothies, oatmeal, or sprinkled on yogurt.
Zinc offers several important benefits for men's health. It plays a pivotal role in supporting the proper functioning of the male reproductive system, including sperm production, prostate health, and testosterone synthesis. Adequate zinc levels are crucial for maintaining healthy testosterone levels, which play a role in libido and muscle growth. One study found blood levels of testosterone were correlated with cellular levels of zinc. The study had young men trial dietary zinc restriction which led to decreased testosterone levels after 20 weeks of restriction. Then they studied older adult men with marginal zinc deficiency and found that six months of 30mg of zinc supplementation increased testosterone levels. Overall, zinc may play a role in maintaining healthy testosterone levels in healthy men.
Zinc is also known to support immune function, helping to activate enzymes involved in the immune response and promote overall well-being. Part of its immune support occurs in zinc’s role in maintaining a healthy intestinal barrier, so it’s important for digestive health.
The RDA for zinc is 11 mg per day for men. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, shellfish, beef, nuts, seeds, dairy, and eggs. If supplementing with zinc, be careful not to exceed the tolerable upper intake level of 40 mg daily for men. Excessive zinc intake can cause copper deficiency. You can consult with a registered dietitian or other healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure safe zinc supplementation.
Curcumin is the active compound found in turmeric with antioxidant-like properties that has been widely researched and found to be supportive of various aspects of health, including stress response, metabolic health, and cardiovascular health.
Studies have shown curcumin to be a powerful ingredient for joint health. One study found that curcumin supplementation promoted comfort and physical function in patients with knee issues.
Additional research shows the efficacy of curcumin for mood support. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, curcumin supplementation for 8 weeks resulted in improvement in several mood-related symptoms.
Typical doses of curcumin used in studies range from 500-2,000 mg daily. One teaspoon of turmeric contains about 200 mg curcumin. Curcumin supplements, on the other hand, usually contain a highly concentrated extract of curcumin to give a more therapeutic dose.
A clinical trial conducted in 2012 demonstrated ashwagandha's ability to lower cortisol levels, commonly referred to as the "stress hormone." After a 60-day period, participants reported a significant decrease in perceived stress compared to those who received a placebo.
Furthermore, recent studies have indicated that ashwagandha may enhance endurance and facilitate muscle strength gains during exercise, reduce food cravings, and assist in managing body weight. If stress is leaving you feeling depleted, ashwagandha could be worth considering.
B vitamins play essential roles in the processes that convert foods into usable energy. The B vitamins consist of thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), B6 (pyridoxine), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and B12. These vitamins also contribute to a healthy nervous system by supporting the production of neurotransmitters, which are essential for brain function and mood regulation. Additionally, vitamins B6 and B12 are particularly important for cardiovascular health, as they help regulate homocysteine levels and support the production of red blood cells.
Some lifestyle factors can impact the levels of B vitamins in the body. Alcohol intake can inhibit absorption of several of the B vitamins. Increased stress levels can deplete certain B vitamins, especially vitamin B6. On the opposite hand, diets low in B vitamins can lead to increased levels of perceived stress and poor mood. Vegans and vegetarians may be at greater risk of B vitamin deficiencies since animal-based foods are generally the best natural sources of most B vitamins, especially vitamin B12.
To get enough B vitamins, eating a balanced diet rich in B vitamin sources is a key step. You may also consider taking a B complex supplement that contains all the B vitamins in one for a convenient, easy step in your health routine.
Saw palmetto is a natural supplement known for its various benefits for men's health. It is commonly used to support prostate health.
Saw palmetto may contribute to hormonal balance in men. Active compounds in the saw palmetto have been found to inhibit the conversion of testosterone to DHT, thereby preserving testosterone levels and may support prostate health and maintain healthy hair growth.
Ginseng is an herb known for the beneficial properties of its root portion. It is a type of adaptogen, which can make it useful to help the body adapt to occasional stress. As an adaptogen, ginseng has the potential to support overall immunity and the central nervous system. Antioxidant phytochemicals in ginseng can manage oxidative stress and have been shown to support cognitive health by providing neuroprotection as well as boosting memory and learning.
Research also shows that ginseng can also boost male reproductive function. Studies have shown that ginseng can boost libido and improve sperm quality and count. A clinical study also found that Asian ginseng (also known as Panax ginseng) supplementation resulted in increased testosterone levels.
Men who want to maintain good health should eat a varied diet rich in nutrient-dense foods, exercise regularly, maintain proper hydration, and get adequate sleep. Sometimes that is easier said than done. Stress, quick and convenient food choices, and lack of physical activity can all cause men to become deficient in certain nutrients.
Supplementing with some of the most important nutrients that are often lacking in your diet can greatly help you maintain your health or reach certain health goals, whether that’s better energy, sexual health, exercise performance, cardiovascular health, weight management, or other.
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.