Supplements and Men's Health

Reviewed by Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN
Supplements and Men

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Food should be your first source of nutrients, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, nuts, seeds, beans and healthy fats. Following a balanced eating pattern is the best way to get the nutrients your body needs, including protein, vitamins and minerals.

If you are not following a balanced eating pattern, getting enough sleep or physically active on a regular basis, you may not have good energy levels. When you're not getting all the nutrients you need or in the recommended amounts, your body also may have trouble fending off illness, and dietary supplements may be necessary for an additional nutrient boost. But before taking a supplement, talk with your health care provider. It's important to know about safety and usefulness of supplements before making a decision.

Safety of Dietary Supplements

Be careful when choosing supplements. While dietary supplements are under the purview of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they are regulated differently than conventional foods and drugs. Manufacturers do not have to prove a supplement is safe or even that it works before it is sold. The FDA can take action to remove or restrict the sale of a supplement only after it has been on the market and been proven unsafe.

The Role of Fortified Foods

Supplements don't only come in a bottle. Many foods including cereals, breads, pastas, energy bars and drinks are enriched or fortified with vitamins, minerals, herbs and amino acids — the building blocks of proteins.

There are different reasons supplements may be recommended for men. They might include:

Bone Health: Calcium and vitamin D are key nutrients for bone health. If you fall behind on getting these nutrients, you may need a supplement separate from a regular multivitamin, since multivitamins usually do not contain enough calcium to meet recommendations.

  • Men need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Men older than age 70 need 1,200 milligrams a day, and teens need 1,300 milligrams a day.
  • Men also need 600 IU of vitamin D each day. After age 70, this increases to 800 IU of vitamin D.

Eye Health: Carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, may play a role in eye health. Focus on including fruits and vegetables such as kale, spinach, carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and broccoli into your day.

Foods should be factored in when considering a dietary supplement. Consuming too much of one nutrient may pose serious health threats. Consult a registered dietitian nutritionist to help evaluate your daily eating pattern prior to starting a supplement regimen.

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