Top Ten Nutrients for Men
Men like to think of themselves as hairy, dirty, and masculine beasts. Indeed, this is quite an accurate description. Although this rugged persona at times can limit man’s desire to learn about proper nutrition. Processed foods have exponentially multiplied in availability, and likewise hunter and gatherer lifestyles have dwindled. Unproven research studies and inconsistent health news reports simply cloud the truth concerning adequate nutrition. The best solution is to get back to basics. Listed below are the top ten nutrients that men need.
1. Calcium (1000 mg per day) and Vitamin D (400 IU per day)
It is only natural that vitamin D be grouped with calcium since it aids in calcium absorption. That explains why many calcium-rich foods are enriched with vitamin D. Calcium is critical to the body because it promotes bone strength and protects against osteoporosis. Healthy sources of calcium are low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, almonds, and some greens like broccoli and kale. Many food products such as milk are fortified with vitamin D, but the majority of our vitamin D absorption comes from our bodies’ production of it through the energy of the sun’s rays. The primary point being that it is therefore medically necessary for a man to skip work in order to be outside on a sunny day.
2. Folic Acid (400 mcg)
Also known as vitamin B9, or its natural form of folate, this bad boy helps create and grow red blood cells and DNA. If that were not enough, it is also rumored to be beneficial in the prevention of cancer and heart disease, but folate has been known to brag. If you have never had the opportunity, then now is your chance to eat some collard greens because leafy green vegetables such as that and spinach are excellent sources. Otherwise folic acid can also be found in citrus fruits and juices, beans and peas, whole grains, poultry, pork, shellfish, and liver.
3. Iron (18 mg)
Iron is essential for the transportation of oxygen in the body and anemia can result in the case of iron deficiency. Too much iron however, could possibly lead to liver damage. Iron is critical when beginning an exercise plan, because one can often experience excess fatigue and reduced gains if possessing insufficient iron stores. Heme iron is absorbed easily and can be found in meat, fish, and poultry, whereas non-heme iron sources such as fruits, vegetables, dried beans, nuts and grains require vitamin C intake for adequate absorption. This is an excellent segue for the next category on the list.
4. Vitamin C (60 mg)
Some nutritionists recommend mega doses of vitamin C, but proceed with caution since over 2000 mg may lead to excessive diarrhea, which is never fun. This antioxidant is beneficial in terms of wound healing and it contributes to the collagen framework found in blood vessels and other tissues. Great sources of vitamin C are fruits such as oranges, strawberries, and papaya; and vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale.
5. Vitamin A, E, and K (5000 IU, 30 IU, and 80 mcg)
These nutrients are being grouped together simply because otherwise this would be a bland top ten list made up primarily of vitamins. With that introduction aside, the early childhood instruction to eat your vitamins is still very relevant today. Vitamin A is critical in many body systems including skin, eyes, teeth, and the immune system. It can be found in several meat sources, or one can consume fruits and vegetables for intake of its carotenoid form, which is more highly concentrated in intensely colored fruits and vegetables like oranges, grapefruit, carrots, and greens. Vitamin E helps form red blood cells, muscle, and maintains DNA function. Higher levels can be found in avocado, nuts, vegetable oils, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains. Vitamin K is important in regards to several functions including normal blood clotting and bone metabolism, and it can also be found in several forms including cauliflower, leafy greens, olive oil, and lean meat.
6. Dietary Fiber (25 g)
Dietary fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber slows down digestion due to its viscosity when dissolved in water. This can result in increased absorption of different nutrients and stabilization of blood glucose levels. Insoluble fiber conversely decreases overall time of passage through the colon by increasing stool volume and stimulating normal bowel contractions. Bowel movements seem to be a common theme when discussing nutrition, and rightfully so because adequate amounts of fiber can decrease constipation, help with certain intestinal abnormalities, and possibly assist in the prevention of colon cancer. It is recommended that approximately a quarter of the daily fiber intake should be from soluble fiber, which can be found in fruits such as apples, mangoes, and oranges; as well as oats, nuts, barley, flax seed, dried apricots, beans, and peas. Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole wheat, corn, rice, beans, nuts, seeds, fruit skins, and leafy green vegetables.
7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (1-2 g)
Omega-3’s are touted to be helpful with a number of conditions including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, intestinal disease, cancer, vision problems, and for the maintenance of healthy skin. The basic premise is that omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation in the body, and inflammation is known to contribute to several different medical problems. This is an excellent reason to dine on some tasty salmon, tuna, and halibut. Walnuts, olive oil, and flax seeds are also excellent sources of omega 3’s, and many supplements are now available.
8. Magnesium, Potassium, and Selenium (400 mg, 3500 mg, 70 mcg)
These nutrients are not being grouped together due to nutritional similarities, but rather because they all end in “ium” and one cannot be much more scientific than that. Since magnesium is prevalent in several body functions, a deficiency can lead to an array of physical and mental symptoms. It can be found in vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains. Potassium ensures that your body operates properly by maintaining normal chemical equilibrium and internal functioning. Bananas are often said to be good sources, but many fruits and vegetable contain potassium, and higher doses can be found in Swiss chard, spinach, avocado, and papaya. Selenium, like many other nutrients on this list, can counter the effects of free radicals on the body, which contribute to disease and the aging process. Several cereals, nuts, meats, and seafood contain this antioxidant.
9. Zinc (15 mg)
This nutrient helps produce enzymes, regulate DNA, and maintain the immune system. Zinc is very abundant in meats such as chicken, pork, beef, and seafood. Pumpkin seeds are a vegetarian option for high zinc amounts, and it can also be found in dairy products, nuts, and whole grains. Once again though, the old adage that too much of a good thing can be the case with zinc intake. Excessive amounts, such as over 50 mg per day, may very well be toxic to the body.
10. Fluids (64 oz)
Proper hydration is extremely important for health and wellness, but fluids can often be ignored when discussing nutrition. In fact dehydration leads to fatigue more readily than any other nutritional deficiency. A total daily dosage of 64 ounces is used when following the recommendation of drinking eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. Some believe that to be excessive and simply recommend intaking more fluids if your urine is dark. Of course, one would obviously want to rule out other causes of dark urine such as poor kidney function or an evil villain superpower.