by Karen Appold
To supplement or not supplement — that’s a question that many men may find themselves asking.
They might want to consider taking a supplement if they are deficient in any nutritional areas, are above age 30 or want to supplement a workout or diet regimen, according to Jim White, RD, spokesmen for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and president/CEO of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Â Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that men ages 31 to 50 need 350 percent more dark green vegetables and upward of 150 percent more fruits to meet dietary needs.
“Many men may want to consider taking a supplement if they are not getting enough nutrients from diet and lifestyle alone,” White said.
Men may also be concerned about prostate health and consider a supplement to keep this organ healthy. Basic wellness aside, many men may also consider taking supplements to boost the effects of a workout and build lean muscle.
Deficiencies in men
Recommended daily amounts are set for every type of nutrient, including vitamins and minerals, and a deficiency occurs when the body is not getting or absorbing enough of these nutrients.
Many Americans, especially men, are deficient in both vitamin D and calcium, which are essential for bone health.
“Some recent studies suggest that vitamin D and calcium may help ward off chronic issues like heart attack and some cancers,” White said. “Many people assume that osteoporosis is limited to females, but many men also suffer from this condition simply because they aren’t getting enough vitamin D and calcium.”
Recent nutrition surveys also concluded that men aren’t getting enough magnesium, which is essential to generate cells’ energy. Deficiencies have been linked to type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Most men take some kind of multi-vitamin, which contains the essentials ranging from vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, as well as calcium, iron, biotin, riboflavin, iodine, and zinc.
“A multivitamin provides a good baseline to fill any holes that nutrition and lifestyle alone are lacking, but some men need other supplements to get the full benefits,” White said.
Another main supplement for men (from a wellness standpoint) is lycopene. Found naturally in pinkish/red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, watermelons, and apricots, lycopene has great benefits for prostate health. Studies have found that prostate cancer cells treated with lycopene displayed less growth than cells that were not treated with lycopene.
From a fitness and physique standpoint, the most common supplement for men to take is whey protein, which is made of the water that separates from milk and contains a lot of protein.
“Most men use whey protein as a supplement or (in large doses) as a meal replacement often in drinks, smoothies, and even baked goods,” White said. “Whey protein has been proven to increase athletic performance in men by increasing lean body mass and strength.”
Choices for older men
Vitamin D and calcium are common choices for older men because as people age, they become less efficient at absorbing both and therefore need more to keep their bodies healthy. Cholesterol also becomes a big issue for men as they get older. A common supplement for men to take to combat this is red rice yeast.
“This supplement has been known to lower LDL or bad cholesterol, as well as lower triglyceride levels,” White said. “Many men also experience trouble with hormone imbalance and take testosterone or androgen supplements.”
Testosterone is important for healthy bones, muscles, weight management, and sex drive. Low testosterone is defined as lower than 300 nanograms of T per deciliter blood. A popular supplement to take is androgen, which maintains male sex hormones such as testosterone.
Ideally, men will get most of their essential nutrients from diet, White said. Supplements are good for filling any minor gaps and should not be used to replace a healthy diet.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.