Here’s a question the medical field doesn’t always agree on – should you take a multivitamin or not? Ask any healthcare professional this same question – dietitian, pharmacist, doctor – and you’ll likely get varying answers. So, whether on the team “take a multivitamin” or “you don’t need one,” the answer of whether men should take one requires some digging.
First, most of us know that healthy eating, exercise and adequate sleep are cornerstones to good health. Most people practicing this health-affirming formula generally live long, healthy lives. And truth be known, most men do not need a multivitamin, especially when eating a variety of nutritious foods. For example, men are unlikely to develop iron-deficiency anemia. However, a woman of child-bearing age with heavy monthly menstrual cycles, has an increased risk for this condition, and therefore, may need supplemental iron to prevent it.
Men, if they eat fairly decently, can often manage to get the nutrients their body needs for good health. That’s because healthy men with no dietary restrictions can forego taking a multivitamin. A pill form of nutrients cannot replicate the complexity of compounds found in whole foods. Many people often take a multivitamin as an insurance policy covering any nutritional gaps in their diet.
When do men need a supplement, and why?
So, most men likely won’t gain much health by relying on a multivitamin to do it all. Instead, their best bet for good health is to eat as healthy as often as they can. But, just like women may be prone to iron-deficiency anemia, are there certain nutrients men are vulnerable to developing a deficiency of? The answer this time is yes.
There are certain situations when men could benefit from a multivitamin or single nutrient supplement. Here’s a look at three nutrients men might be deficient in and may need a supplement, with their doctor’s approval:
- Vitamin D
If you’re a man who rarely drinks milk, eats salmon or tuna, and spends most your day indoors, you could be deficient in vitamin D. There are few natural food sources of vitamin D (except for the ones mentioned), and our best source is exposure to sunlight. Add to this list that men with darker skin – African American, Hispanic, Native American – will require longer sun exposure in order for their body to make sufficient vitamin D.
Men who are vitamin D deficient are more likely to have weak bones and muscles, develop colon cancer, feel fatigued, and have lowered immunity to viruses.
The best nutrition sources of vitamin D are milk, salmon, sardines, cod liver oil, cheese, egg yolk, yogurt, and fortified orange juice or breakfast cereal.
Men should consult with their doctor about whether they should take vitamin D and, if so, how much.
This B vitamin is critical to help protect men from heart disease. Folate prevents the buildup of a substance called cysteine, which the body requires for building protein but, if produced in excess, can lead to heart disease.
Men require 400 micrograms (mcg) of folate a day. Best food sources include leafy green vegetables like spinach or kale, beans, asparagus, oranges, strawberries, and avocados.
- Vitamin B12
The need for vitamin B12 increases as men age. Vitamin B12 helps boost brain health by supporting a healthy nervous system’s functioning and boosts memory. Symptoms of it include depression and dementia. Each day, men require 2.4 mcg, easily acquired from their diet. Vitamin B12 is only found in foods of animal origin so, beef, poultry, eggs, milk, salmon, shrimp, and cheese are good sources. Plant-based foods are fortified with B12, including breakfast cereals
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.