Our bodies started evolving about 2.5 billion years ago. However, even today, gender plays an important role in deciding our basic nutritional requirements. Studies have shown that since men engage in more physical activities than women, they have a relatively higher metabolic rate. This means in order to stay healthy, their bodies demand more macro as well as micronutrients. While carbohydrates, fat, and protein make up for the ‘macronutrients’, vitamins and minerals together come under ‘micronutrients’. Since these are required in very small quantities, they may sometimes be overlooked.
So, we decided to put together a list of minerals and vitamins that should be on every man’s list to stay healthy. Read on to know their major sources and the impact it can have on your overall health:
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Men’s Health
#1 Vitamin A
Vitamin A belongs to the group of fat-soluble vitamins. It is primarily responsible for the growth and development of cells, vision, immunity, and even reproduction. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant and potent hormone which can greatly affect the function of the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
Daily requirement: The recommended daily intake of vitamin A for adult men is 900 micrograms (mcg)
Sources: The predominant source of Vitamin A is liver and fish oils. Other sources rich in vitamin A are:
- Milk and eggs.
- Green leafy veggies.
- Orangish yellow-coloured food items like lemons, carrots, etc.
- Some vegetable oils.
- Better eyesight: Vitamin A plays a critical role in relaying visual information from our eyes to our brain. Deficiency of vitamin A may lead to many visual disturbances. This is probably the reason why the first symptom of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness or difficulty to see in the dark.
- Lowers risk of cancer: It is observed that adequate intake of vitamin A from natural sources like fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of lung cancer. Studies in Japan have also reported that vitamin A may even prevent colon cancer.
#2 Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that increases the production of red blood cells in our body. It supports the building of DNA structure and ensures the proper functioning of our nervous system. Also balances the stress hormones and helps to reduce symptoms of depression
Daily requirement: The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 for adult men is 2.4 micrograms(mcg)
Sources: The main source of vitamin B12 are animal products like meat and fish (e.g. salmon and cod). Secondary sources include:
- Dairy foods like milk, curd, cheese, etc
Since Vitamin B12 is not found naturally in plants and grains, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may want to consider taking a B vitamin supplement.
- Nourishes the neurons: Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with memory loss, especially in older men. A study concluded that early-stage dementia can be slowed down by the use of a combination of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
- Improved sperm count: Vitamin B12 is responsible for the production and development of sperm. It is a common observation that low levels of B12 can severely affect sperm count. Studies have also proved that there is a link between plasma concentration of vitamin B12 and infertility in men.
#3 Vitamin C
Vitamin C, or chemically known as ascorbic acid, is critical for the wear and tear of all body tissues. It is involved in multiple functions like absorption of iron, wound healing, and maintaining cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Daily requirement: The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adult men is 90 micrograms(mcg). As it is water-soluble in nature, deficiency of vitamin C may occur, causing scurvy or bleeding gums.
Sources: The main source of Vitamin C are green veggies like broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower. Some other sources are:
- Green and red peppers.
- Fruits like kiwi, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries.
- Food staples like potatoes and tomatoes.
- Manages high blood pressure: The force exerted by the blood on the walls of vessels is known as blood pressure. Vitamin C removes excess fluid from our body, thereby reducing the volume of blood and overall pressure.
- Prevention of gout: A gout is a form of arthritis where uric acid gets deposited in the joints. A study conducted with 1,387 men found that those who consumed vitamin C had significantly lower blood levels of uric acid thereby lower chances of gout.
- Support system for Immunity: Vitamin C plays a significant role in building up immunity. It helps to stimulate both the production and function of white blood cells, thereby, helping the body fight infections.
#4 Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that regulates the levels of calcium and phosphate in the body. It is also important for strong bone, teeth, and muscle health.
Daily requirement: The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adults is 10–20 micrograms (mcg). Although the deficiency is rare in India due to ample sunshine, deficiency of vitamin D can cause soft or fragile bones.
Sources: Vitamin D is produced by our skin from sunlight but can also be found in some foods.
Vitamin D can also be commonly found in
- Oily fish (like Salmon, Sardines, Tuna)
- Red meat.
- Egg yolks.
- Soya products.
- Decreases incidence of stroke: Strokes are one of the leading causes of death in men. Since blood pressure is controlled by the action of vitamin D, the chances of a stroke are also greatly reduced. Moreover, vitamin D also helps in weight loss further decreasing the risk of heart diseases.
- Improved testosterone levels: Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for primary and secondary reproductive traits. It controls everything from the coarseness of voice, facial hair growth, and even sex drive. Vitamin D helps in the regulation of testosterone levels in the blood.
#5 Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that carries out a complete synthesis of proteins required for blood coagulation.
Daily requirement: The recommended daily intake of vitamin K for adult men is 138 micrograms(mcg) and for adult women is 122 mcg.
Sources: The main source of vitamin K are green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, parsley, etc. It is also found in secondary sources like:
- Plant-based oils.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Dairy products.
- Soya beans.
- Wound healing: Vitamin K is involved in the production of prothrombin, a protein that is responsible for the clotting of blood and wound healing.
- Reduces blood pressure: Men are more likely to develop blood pressure and heart-related concerns. Vitamin K regulates the blood pressure and ensures that the heart is pumping blood freely throughout the body.
About 96% of the weight of the human body is composed of these four minerals – oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen. However, there are small traces of other important minerals found in the body. Some of those are:
Whenever you add salt to your food, you are in fact, adding sodium. The majority of Indians meet their sodium needs as part of their daily diet. However, excess intake of sodium may lead to high blood pressure.
Daily requirement: The maximum recommended daily intake of sodium for adults by WHO is 5 g per day. However, it is noted that sodium intake in India is about 11 g per day.
Calcium is an essential mineral to help build stronger bones, healthier teeth, and reduce muscle damage.
Daily requirement: The recommended daily intake of calcium for young adults is 1,000 milligrams (mg). In the case of men over 70 years of age, it is increased to 1,200 mg.
Sources: The main source of calcium is dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. It is also found in:
- Leafy veggies, such as broccoli, cabbage, okra.
Iron supports the transportation of oxygen-rich blood from our lungs to the rest of our body. It helps in the formation of hemoglobin, which serves as an oxygen-carrier throughout the body.
Daily requirement: Since men do not menstruate, it is a common misconception that their body demands for iron are lower than women. In fact, the recommended daily intake of iron for adult males is 19.3–20.5 mg while for females, it is 17.0–18.9 mg.
Sources: Iron is found in huge quantities in animal products, especially red meat like beef. There are also secondary sources like:
- Tuna and salmon
- Baked potato.
- Whole grains like wheat or oats.
Potassium regulates fluid balance, improves muscle contractions, and makes sure the nervous system is working properly. A potassium-rich diet reduces the chances of getting a stroke and also prevents kidney stones.
Daily requirement: The recommended daily intake of potassium for adults is 4,700 milligrams (mg).
Sources: Bananas are a popular and inexpensive source of potassium. Other sources include:
- Daily staples like tomatoes and potatoes.
- Green veggies like spinach and broccoli.
- Sour fruits, like oranges, lemons.
- Beans and lentils.
Irrespective of their age, men have always seemed to function differently both physically and mentally. So, it is not a coincidence that the requirements that are needed for men are quite different from the requirements of women. Hence, it is important that every man out there makes sure to take these vitamins or minerals in the above-mentioned ways to lead a healthy and holistic life.