The essential vitamins and minerals that we need to take in through our food and supplements are the same for everyone, male and female. That said, there are differences for each sex in terms of the recommended intake and the roles the nutrients play in our bodies. Because they usually have a higher body weight and more muscle mass, men often have higher RDAs of vitamins and minerals compared to women. And certain nutrients have roles in the body particular to men.
Pay attention to these four vitamins and minerals–they’re particularly important for men.
Vitamin D is best known for its benefits for bone health–it was initially added to milk in order to prevent rickets in children. But there’s a lot of new and ongoing research on the role vitamin D may play in everything from depression to colon cancer. And while a connection hasn’t yet been proven, research has also shown that the vitamin-D deficient have increased risk of heart attack or stroke, indicated that the vitamin could play a role in preventing inflammation. Many of us in the northern hemisphere are deficient in vitamin D, especially during the months of the year when sunshine is lacking.
Past surveys found that on average, men aren’t hitting their RDA of 400mg of magnesium. That’s a problem because this mineral is involved in hundreds of body processes–it’s needed for enzyme activation, which allows the chemical reactions in our body to happen. Those reactions are key to the function of all our organ systems. This mineral is also important for the regulation of others, including copper and zinc. If you think you could stand to up your magnesium, include more of food sources like beans and greens in your diet and consider a supplement.
Have heartburn? Then you might be low on vitamin B12, even if you make a 12-ounce steak a regular part of your diet. Acid-blocking medications, taken for heartburn and acid reflux, can affect your ability to absorb this essential vitamin–and deficiency has serious consequences like anemia and nerve damage. Look for fortified cereals, and include animal sources like meat and eggs in your diet. Supplements are also helpful, particularly if you take an acid-blocker or metformin, a medication for diabetes, or if you eat a limited amount of animal proteins.
We all lose zinc through sweat–but men tend to lose more of it than women do, which means that many could be deficient. That’s a problem considering zinc is key to immune function and enzyme processes. Oysters are the best food source of zinc, but it’s also found in beans and beef. And there’s some evidence that supplementing with zinc can help to prevent colds or make them less severe.