Nutrients that Men need
Although a healthy diet and proper eating habits are known to be essential for both longevity and a fulfilling lifestyle, many people give little attention to the quality and quantity of food they eat. This is unfortunate, because unhealthy nutritional practices can needlessly place limits on a person’s ability to enjoy life. Many common ailments and disabilities can be avoided by simple adjustments to one’s nutritional intake, and a little self education about what kind of vitamins, minerals, and fibers are needed can make a significant difference to a person’s overall health.
It is important to know that men and women have some distinctly different nutritional requirements. The reason for this is largely because of different metabolic composition, but gender roles and expectations can also have a bearing on their different needs. In general, women seem to be more aware of their needs and requirements, especially as they relate to child bearing and child rearing, while many men are unaware of their nutritional needs, and indeed, they are more likely to indulge in unhealthy eating habits. Nutrition professionals generally agree that the following nutrients are essential components of a healthy diet for men.
1. Omega-3 Fats. Because of their greater body mass, men normally require a larger food intake. This is understandable, but the most common problem for men is that the foods they favor often contain a high fat content, leading to high blood pressure, obesity, and multiple heart problems. Saturated and trans fats must be avoided as much as possible, while healthy fatty acids, the Omega-3 fats, should be used to promote health by reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. Fish, especially species like tuna and salmon, is an excellent source of fatty acids, and it should replace red meats from time to time on the dinner menu. Leafy green vegetables and nuts are easy to come by, and these too can be integral to the main meal of the day or used as snacks.
2. Zinc. This mineral is always mentioned as one of the most important requirements for male health in any serious report about nutrient intake. This is because of its role in the development and function of the prostate gland and the formation of testosterone and sperm cells. Men suffering from zinc deficiency are statistically more prone to prostate cancer. This is not the only function of zinc in a man’s general health, however. The immune system requires this mineral too, and the body’s capacity to heal wounds and repair internal damage is significantly reduced by a zinc deficiency. Mushrooms are an obvious source of zinc. They are easy to obtain and pleasant to eat, and they can be eaten either in light meals and snacks, or as part of a main meal.
3. Magnesium. It has long been known that magnesium is associated with proper muscle development and function. A man’s upper body muscles in particular need to be strong and healthy for his normal activities, and nutrition professionals recommend between 400 mg and 500 mg per day for men over thirty. But it is not only muscle health that requires this mineral. The bones and nervous system requires adequate amounts of magnesium for proper functioning, and it is important to examine food sources to ensure sufficient intake. Whole grains are the best source of magnesium for nutritional purposes, but nuts, fish, beans, and apples are all easily obtained sources as well.
4. Calcium. This macro mineral is needed mostly to ensure healthy bones and teeth, but it is also important for general body health. Excess calcium is stored in the bones but when there is insufficient calcium intake, the body takes calcium from the bones for its normal functions. This can lead to weak and fragile bones due to reduced bone mass. Normal sources of calcium are milk and milk products, but the mineral can also be obtained from other foods such as soy and rice.
5. Potassium. This mineral is a crucial part of the human diet, and it is especially important for those who are involved in heavy activities either at work or in highly energetic games. Its main function is to maintain electrolyte balance in the body and keeping cells running smoothly together. White meats, root vegetables, and fresh fruits are the best sources of potassium. All are easily obtained and they should be considered an essential part of a balanced diet.
6. Carotenoids. Carotenoids are cancer fighting anti-oxidant vitamins that men require to ensure their continued good health. Although many forms of cancer can now be successfully treated, prevention is by far the best approach to this dreaded disease. These vitamins can be found in the peels of bright fruits and vegetables, and dieticians usually recommend peaches and all kinds of citrus fruits as being particularly good.
7. Vitamins E and C. These vitamins are also anti-oxidants. Men are particularly prone to heart disease, but an adequate level of vitamin E intake can be beneficial to the general health of the cardiovascular system. A high intake of vitamins E and C has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke in men. Like all Carotenoids, these vitamins are obtained from the peels of fruits and vegetables.
8. Vitamins B6 and B12. These vitamins work together with folic acids to control inflammations associated with cancer or heart disease. The also help to metabolize protein in the body, and health experts consider them essential for men with a high risk of stroke. Eggs, fish, spinach, and beans are all rich in this trio of vitamins.
9. Carbohydrates. The body needs carbohydrates to produce energy, and it follows that a balanced intake of carbohydrates is particularly important to anyone involved in high-energy activities. Two kinds of carbohydrates, simple sugars and starch, are present in most of the foods that we eat, but some foods are much better sources than others. Simple sugars are best obtained from fresh fruits, and the starches required in a balanced diet are easily consumed in root vegetables and cereal grains.
10. Chloride. Chloride is sometimes called the “forgotten” essential mineral for human health. It is easy to get the impression that salts are detrimental to health and wellbeing, and of course, in excess they usually are. Dieticians usually recommend an intake of about 115 grams of chloride per day to maintain good health and even more when salts are being lost through excess sweating and in urination. Like potassium, chlorides assist in the conduction of electrical impulses when dissolved in bodily water. Some healthy sources of chloride are tomatoes, lettuce, and celery, though these foods may not supply sufficient chloride to active men and it may be necessary to supplement intake from less healthy sources such as cheese or even table salt.
Finicky diets may be a little onerous for many people, but knowledge about basic nutritional requirements can enable some relatively easy adjustments to one’s eating habits. Any man who is genuinely concerned about maintaining an active life style into old age, should take dietary advice seriously. It may well be the deciding factor in determining his longevity.
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