Health and fitness magazines, late-night infomercials, and the latest research offered up on the evening news often present conflicting messages about vitamin supplementation. Add locker room talk guys may hear while cleaning up after a workout, and you’ve got some real confusion brewing. And just as many women seem to have a craze for the next real beauty or weight loss product, men go nuts for vitamins and other formulations that promise to give them what they want.
What do they want? A strong, buff bod, complete with six pack and the ability to maintain their – ahem – attention in the bedroom. OK, in all fairness, they also want to live healthier, longer lives. In a perfect world, both men and women would obtain all their nutritional needs through eating a healthy, balanced diet.
No perfect world here. Even the most committed healthy eaters seem to miss the mark in today’s super fast, high tech, artificially flavored world. Check out the most important supplements for men below:
- Creatine – for muscle growth and improved memory. Take about 5 grams (g) per day, mixed in a milk-based protein shake (no soy).
- Folic Acid – an important supplement for women as well, folic acid keeps levels of the amino acid, homocysteine, in check. Too much of it can lead to deadly blood clots and clogged arteries. Research indicates that the lower homocysteine levels may reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Take about 500 micrograms (mcg) daily. Natural food sources include dark leafy green vegetables, citrus fruit, beans, and legumes.
- Omega-3S – a type of fatty acid thought to lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Omega-3 makes the blood slicker, reducing the chance of clotting and arthrosclerosis. Researchers believe these fatty acids achieve these heart benefits by reducing inflammation throughout the body. Take 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day if you don’t have any history of heart disease or other cardiac problems. If you have heart issues or associated conditions, you may need anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 mg daily. Fatty fish, like salmon or herring are natural food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin E – A potent antioxidant, vitamin e is thought to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage as well as reduce your risk of some types of eye disease, cancers, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. You can take up to 400 international units (IU) per day. Eat more nuts and oils to get more vitamin e from natural sources. The body absorbs natural vitamin e formulations better than the synthetic e, so opt for the natural choice.
- Boron – studies have shown this supplement to reduce your risk of prostate cancer by up to 65 percent. Some research indicates that higher boron levels lead to better memory and concentration as well. Despite the abundance and variety of food choices in the US, American men consume nearly the lowest amounts of boron worldwide.
- Calcium – according to Dr. Todd B. Nippoldt, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, “Calcium is important for men of all ages for optimal bone health.” In addition to optimal bone health, men with higher intakes of the mineral were leaner than those consuming low levels of calcium. Many men don’t get enough calcium from dairy products and don’t eat much of the calcium-rich green leafy vegetables either. You need 1,000 mg of calcium per day, but when taking calcium citrate supplements, you’ll need a total of 1,200 mg daily. Don’t take it all at once; split your intake between morning and evening. If you already get enough calcium, three cups of milk or equivalent, you won’t need to supplement your intake. In fact, too much calcium puts men at risk.
- Vitamin D – facilitates the proper absorption of calcium. Without it, your body can’t absorb and utilize your calcium supplements. You’ll need about 800 IUs daily and don’t exceed 4,000 IUs. Natural sources of D include egg yolks, salmon, and tuna.
- Coenzyme Q10 – the body produces this antioxidant-packed substance, but production decreases with age. Q10 helps cells manage the body’s energy stores and may reduce the risk for a number of debilitating diseases, such as Parkinson’s. To regain the energy and disease protection of your younger, wilder days, you’ll need to take a Q10 supplement. It doesn’t occur in adequate amounts in any food – a supplement is the only way. Take 100 mg per day, unless you take statins for cholesterol. Some statins can reduce Q10 levels, so those taking the drugs may try increasing the Q10 dosage to 200 mg daily.
- Chromium – chromium increases your sensitivity to insulin, helping your body to manage blood glucose levels more efficiently. This may help reduce your risk of developing diabetes, especially if it runs in your family. Better management of glucose levels translates into better metabolism overall, which can facilitate your muscle building efforts.
- Glucosamine – this substance helps to alleviate joint pain, resulting from overuse and the natural effects of aging. Some studies suggest it may help slow, or event stop, the progression of osteoarthritis in the knee. Unless you want to eat crab and lobster shells, you won’t find this in a natural food source. Take a supplement of 1,500 mg per day. You should begin to feel results after 12 weeks of taking glucosamine.
Unless you eat a fastidiously healthy, well-balanced diet, you’ll still need a multi-vitamin in addition to these essentials for men. And remember, smart guys last longer – exercise regularly and talk to your doctor before beginning to take any dietary supplement.