This is not your average “Vitamins For Men” article. We’re not going to lecture you about how *professors voice* “vitamin B12 is an integral component in the formation of red blood cells, DNA, and nerves.” That’s boring and useless.
Let’s touch on the hard-hitting vitamins and minerals that men should focus on for optimal wellness and quality of life.
What Health Struggles Do Males Face?
The simple answer: Low T
The reason that testosterone is such a hot topic for men is two fold…
- The hormone is a key factor in nearly all aspects of a male’s health
- Testosterone levels decline with age, starting around 30 and declining by approximately 1% each year (source 1, 2)
To explain the gravity of the situation, an example of low testosterone levels are associated with:
- decreased libido,
- lack of energy,
- erection problems,
- falling asleep after eating,
- memory impairment,
- loss of pubic hair,
- sad or grumpy mood changes,
- decrease in endurance,
- loss of axillary hair,
- and deterioration in work performance (source).
It’s clear that maintaining adequate testosterone levels is a key to optimal men’s health, which is why it is a multi-billion dollar industry. However, the solution is not as simple as finding an exotic herb that is claimed to boost testosterone levels.
The situation is more complex. For example, most testosterone (roughly 98%) is considered “bound” - tightly bound to SHBG and loosely to albumin. SHBG-bound testosterone is not available for use by the body, whereas albumin-bound testosterone is available but not as readily used as free testosterone, which only makes up about 2% of your total T. What we’re trying to explain is that simply increasing your total testosterone does not necessarily correspond to improvements in symptoms. A more comprehensive health approach is needed.
We’re not trying to scare you with the complexity. The overall message is that men’s health is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive and fundamental approach to support cellular, hormonal, and full-body health, from the bottom up.
What Can You Do?
Live a healthy lifestyle. Stop smoking, don’t drink too much alcohol, get enough sleep (yep, every night), keep moving and do muscle-centric exercises a few times each week, and eat a healthy and balanced diet (whatever that means for you and your dietitian).
The Less Obvious:
Ensure optimal nutrient intake for YOUR body to establish health and hormone levels for now and the future.
Not only does magnesium play a central role in neurological health, but supplementation has been shown to improve both subjective and objective markers of sleep, and it has been shown to positively impact testosterone levels (source 1, 2). Learn more about magnesium here.
In some studies done in rate, vitamin E demonstrated an ability to protect the testosterone-producing cells (leydig cells) by neutralizing free radicals. Learn more about vitamin E here.
Supplemental vitamin D was shown in a study to increase testosterone with statistical significance. Importantly, it has been shown that large portions (up to 75%) of the population are not getting sufficient vitamin D, which has additional far-reaching health implications. Learn more here, including about the VDR mutation that means you need 2x the vitamin D.
A deficiency in this mineral and chronic overtraining are both associated with low testosterone. Restoring zinc to a normal level, and supplementing with zinc during excessive training, tends to improve testosterone levels (source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Insufficient iron intake can cause anemia which can lead to impaired muscle strength and physical ability, cognition, and longevity (source). Importantly, iron can be poisonous to some individuals with HFE gene mutations. Learn more here.
Overtraining can reduce testosterone by 20-30%, so it is important to develop a personalized training program, complete with periods of rest, matched to your ability.
Men’s health is not a singlular testosterone-fueled problem; however, it is a good place to start, especially if you are experiencing the symptoms listed above.
Importantly, you are unique and so are your health needs. Do you exercise in the same at 35 as you did at 18? Do you weigh the same? Are your hormones the same? Probably not!
As you change so do your health needs, and this includes your micronutrient requirements. Targeted supplementation specific to your unique vitamin and mineral needs can be an effective approach to short- and long-term wellness.
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