Multivitamin supplements distinctly made for and marketed to men as opposed to women are tailored for the nutritional deficiencies more common to each sex arising out of lifestyle – like the tendency of American men to eat more meat than women do vegetables – as much as arising out of physiology – like the need for more nutrients to support their larger body size.
Micronutrient Importance and Requirements
Vitamins don’t have calories and don’t supply any energy by themselves. These organic compounds generally act as catalysts, combining with proteins to create metabolically active enzymes that in turn produce hundreds of important chemical reactions throughout the body. Vitamins help to release energy contained in proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. They’re also needed to build tissue, control the body’s use of food, and assist in the formation of hormones, blood cells, nervous-system chemicals, and genetic material. Without vitamins, many of these reactions would slow down or cease. The human body can manufacture only vitamin D; all others must come from your diet.
There are 13 vitamins critical to good health:
- Vitamin A (Retinol)
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin, Nicotinamide, Nicotinic Acid)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B9 (Folate, Folacin, Folic Acid)
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
- Biotin (B vitamin)
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- Vitamin D (Calciferol, Ergosterol)
- Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol)
- Vitamin K (Menadione)
Vitamins are further classified according to their ability to be absorbed in fat or water. The fat-soluble vitamins are
- Vitamin A,
- Vitamin D,
- Vitamin E, and
- Vitamin K.
Fat-soluble vitamins are generally consumed along with fat-containing foods, and because they can be stored in the body’s fat, they do not have to be consumed every day. It’s possible to overload on the fat-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins can actually block the effect of other vitamins and even cause severe poisoning when taken in excess. So, it’s important to look for multivitamin supplements do not exceed established dietary recommendations – usually seen as Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) or percentages of daily value based on 2,000 calorie per day diets.
The water-soluble vitamins are
- Vitamin B1,
- Vitamin B2,
- Vitamin B3,
- Vitamin B5,
- Vitamin B6,
- Vitamin B9,
- Vitamin B12,
- Biotin, and
- Vitamin C.
Water-soluble vitamins can’t be stored and should be consumed every day. Excess water-soluble vitamins are normally excreted in urine. It’s common to see multivitamin supplements for men and women with levels of vitamin C, for example, far exceeding established dietary recommendations because of this fact.
There are other valuable, albeit non-critical vitamins, mostly among the so-called bioflavonoid family of compounds in vegetables, for which no recommended daily amount or average daily intake has yet been established, such as Vitamin B17 (Laetrile Nitrilosides).
Minerals are inorganic substances that are necessary for some of the chemical activity that occurs in the body and are required for regulation of various bodily functions, such as muscular contraction, protein synthesis, nerve reaction, and blood clotting.
There are 24 minerals critical to sustain life:
As with fat-soluble vitamins, you can overload on minerals. While some minerals are needed in large amounts (major minerals) and others in very small amounts (trace minerals).
The major minerals needed by the body are
- Sodium, and
The trace minerals needed by the body are
- Vanadium, and
Of the critical minerals, the following have no firm daily recommendations from the scientific and medical establishment:
Important Micronutrients for Men
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) has been found in studies to significantly lower a man’s risk of colon cancer. Vitamin B9 also checks levels of the amino acid homocysteine; too much homocysteine can lead to blood clots and clogged arteries. Men should get at least 400 micrograms of this water-soluble vitamin per day.
Vitamin D isn’t just for kids; it maintains bone health and helps prevent bone disease, in part by helping your body to absorb calcium. If you’re not regularly drinking milk and don’t get much sun to instigate your body’s own production, you might be running low on vitamin D. Men should get between 200 and 600 international units (IU) of this fat-soluble vitamin per day and not more than 2,000 IU.
Vitamin E does it part to keep men healthy and strong by fighting infection and (as an antioxidant) helping to repair and renew cells. It also reduces risk of cancer, eye disease, and heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Men should get between 200 and 400 IU of this fat-soluble vitamin per day and not more than 1,500 IU (1,000 micrograms).
Boron has been found in studies to significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer and other studies show higher levels of boron improving memory and concentration.
Calcium is often thought of as more important for women to combat osteoporosis; however, sufficient calcium is not really any less important for the bone (and tooth) health of men. Men should get between 200 and 1,200 milligrams per day and not more than 2,500 milligrams.
Chromium will improve a man’s metabolism. It increases sensitivity to insulin and helps the body manage blood glucose levels; thus, it may help prevent diabetes. A better metabolism will also play well with most men’s effort to build muscle and lose fat. Men should get between 30 and 35 micrograms per day. Upper limits are not established for chromium and there are no adverse effects knowingly linked to high intake of chromium. Regardless, you should probably use caution experimenting on yourself with large doses.
Magnesium shouldn’t be neglected by men since it is vital to muscle function (both anaerobic and aerobic energy generation and for glycolysis) and helps conduct nerve impulses. Men should get between 330 and 420 milligrams per day. Upper limits are not established for magnesium.
Selenium is an important antioxidant that helps regulate thyroid hormone function and muscle (including the heart) and immune function. Some small-scale trials of selenium supplementation indicate lower rates of prostate and colon cancer. A deficiency of selenium alone doesn’t often result in obvious illness but it does lead to biochemical changes that set up individuals for illnesses associated with other stresses, including deficiencies of other micronutrients. Men should get between 45 and 55 micrograms per day and not more than 400 micrograms.
Zinc has catalytic, regulatory, and structural functions; it boosts the immune system to fight infection, helps in cellular function and repair, facilitates proteins’ biological activity, and helps metabolism. Men should get 9.5 to 11 milligrams per day and not more than 40 milligrams.
The “Best” Multivitamin for Men
Men should look for vitamin and mineral supplement formulations with the following:
- All critical vitamins
- Fat soluble, critical vitamins in non-excessive amounts
- All critical minerals
- Minerals in non-excessive amounts
- Appropriate levels of the “important” vitamins and minerals for men, considering their age
- Natural (non-synthetic) formulations and ingredients for better absorption by the body
Many “multis” also offer other substances and extracts – like lutein, coenzyme Q10, and grape seed. Consider such additions a bonus in the multivitamin.
Considering all the variables, men should look for the best multivitamin for them, considering current diet and actual or likely deficiencies, bodyweight, age, health conditions, and activity levels. Fortunately, manufacturers have done a reasonably good job developing multivitamins for the needs of everyone.