Men’s Health need specific nutrients like calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, folic acid, and zinc. These nutrients boost libido and help stave off diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
A balanced diet of lean meats, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds will provide most of the nutrients that men need.
1. Vitamin C
You’ve likely heard that vitamin C is essential for immune function, but it has many more benefits. It’s a water-soluble nutrient found in a variety of foods like strawberries, kiwi fruit, broccoli, bell peppers, and kale. The recommended daily intake for adults is 90 mg per day. If you smoke or have a chronic illness, your needs may be higher.
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You may not hear about people suffering from scurvy as often as in the days of the pirates, but deficiency still occurs. Those at increased risk for vitamin C deficiency include the elderly, low-income individuals, smokers, and those with chronic illnesses. It’s also been linked to high blood pressure, stroke, certain cancers, and eye diseases such as macular degeneration.
Including more foods with this nutrient in your diet can help improve health and increase energy. Plus, it’s been shown to aid in the production of new red blood cells and better blood flow—key processes that contribute to a healthy libido. There’s currently no evidence of a direct link between vitamin C and erectile dysfunction, but more research is needed.
Potassium is an essential mineral needed for many vital body functions including muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood pressure regulation, and preservation of bone density. Studies consistently show that a diet high in sodium and low in potassium can lead to hypertension. In fact, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identifies potassium as a “nutrient of public health concern.”
Observational studies also show that people who consume more potassium from foods are at a lower risk for kidney stones than those who do not. A recent study of over 45,000 adults found that a potassium-rich diet (at least 3,400 mg per day for men, 2,600 for women) was associated with a 51% reduced risk for kidney stones over 4 years.
High dietary potassium intake is also associated with lower rates of heart disease, especially coronary artery disease. The reason is that potassium counteracts the negative effects of sodium on blood pressure. A diet high in potassium and low in sodium can significantly lower blood pressure, which is why it’s important to choose whole foods that are rich in potassium, such as leafy green vegetables; fruits, especially bananas; tomatoes; potatoes; pumpkins; carrots; and beans.
Some dietary supplements contain potassium, and many multivitamin/mineral products provide it. In addition, potassium chloride, a form of the mineral used in salt substitutes and some dietary supplements, is available for those on sodium-restricted diets. Check out the Nutrition Facts label on packaged food items to see how much potassium is in each serving.
3. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for many of the body’s functions, including vision, skin health, immune system, and bone development. It can also help prevent oxidative damage to cells and tissues, including the eyes. A combination of vitamins E and A can also improve a man’s eye health and reduce the effects of aging on the retina.
It is recommended that men get 900 mcg of Vitamin A, women 700 mcg, and children 300-600 mcg per day. Vitamin A is found in both animal and plant foods. It is also made by the body in two forms, preformed vitamin A and provitamin A carotenoids. It is recommended that most people get their Vitamin A from a variety of whole foods rather than supplements.
Oily fish, like salmon and mackerel, are a great source of Vitamin A. A 3-ounce serving of cooked sockeye salmon provides 7% of the daily recommended intake. Liver and liver products like liver pate are also very rich sources of Vitamin A. But it is important to only eat these once or twice a week to avoid overdoing it on Vitamin A.
Vitamin A can be toxic in large doses. Overdose symptoms may include fatigue, headache, nausea and vomiting, and a mild rash. Avoid taking more than the recommended daily dose of vitamin A without consulting with a doctor. Vitamin A toxicity is very rare and usually occurs in people who have very poor diets or are suffering from certain medical conditions that inhibit the body’s ability to absorb and activate this nutrient.
Ideally, people should get their nutrients from whole foods that provide the building blocks of a healthy diet. But that’s not always possible, and dietary supplements may help fill the gaps.
For instance, many Americans do not consume enough magnesium – a mineral important for many bodily functions. A diet high in processed and refined foods can deplete magnesium, as can chronic alcohol abuse, certain health conditions, and aging (which can lead to decreased absorption or increased magnesium excretion in urine).
Magnesium is used in the production of energy, cellular communication, and normal muscle contraction. It’s also key for bone formation, aiding in the absorption of calcium and vitamin D. It also supports a normal heart rhythm and helps regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. And it can reduce symptoms of asthma, acting as both an anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator.
In addition, magnesium is known to help ease migraine headaches by helping the muscles surrounding the brain relax. It also can relieve menstrual cramps, especially those originating in the uterus, by working to counteract the effects of calcium on the muscle. In a recent study, researchers found that adequate intakes of magnesium could potentially lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults by enhancing insulin sensitivity. (Source: Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, 2020.) A person can increase their magnesium intake by eating more food sources, including greens, beans, nuts, and seeds; consuming fortified foods like breakfast cereals; or taking a supplemental tablet that’s been doctor-recommended.
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is necessary for many body functions. It helps form red blood cells and aids in DNA and RNA production and protein metabolism. It also reduces homocysteine, which can lead to artery damage and blood clots. Folate is water-soluble and is found naturally in foods, especially leafy green vegetables. Foods containing the highest levels of folate include liver, spinach, and asparagus, as well as fortified bread, flour, and pasta.
Since 1998, the FDA has approved the addition of folic acid to many foods. This is because folic acid has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of neural tube defects in unborn babies. In addition, low folate levels can cause anemia, which is characterized by weakness, fatigue, mouth ulcers, and shortness of breath.
Although most men get enough folic acid through their diet, some may need to take a supplement. It is important to note that folic acid supplements should only be taken under the supervision of a physician, and in doses no higher than 1,000 mcg daily. Taking more than this amount can inhibit the absorption of other nutrients, including vitamins C and E. Instead, men should consume dietary sources of folate and consider taking 5-methyl folate (also known as levomefolate calcium or levomefolate magnesium), which is the active, usable form of folate. This form of folate is better absorbed than folic acid and is available over the counter under the brand name Metafolin or Deplin.
Men’s Health have unique nutritional needs, including calcium, vitamin D, and zinc. These nutrients help promote bone health and boost libido in men. In addition, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D may help reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Many foods, especially dairy, are good sources of calcium. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are great choices. In addition, a variety of other foods contain calcium, such as tofu, beans, and leafy vegetables. Check the nutrition facts label on food packages to see how much calcium a serving of that particular food contains.
Getting enough calcium is important to help protect your bones from osteoporosis. Both women and men lose bone mass as they age, and a high-calcium diet can slow this process down.
In men, a diet high in calcium and vitamin D may also decrease the likelihood of developing prostate cancer. However, not all studies have found this to be the case, and some have found no relationship or even a slight increase in risk in men who consume more dairy and calcium.
Talk to your doctor about the best ways to get enough calcium in your diet. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a calcium supplement. Avoid taking supplements containing aluminum and lead, and always check with your doctor before starting any new supplements. If you’re lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, choose dairy alternatives and fortified products like nut-based milk, orange juice, and cereals.