Should a Man Take a Multivitamin? A Dietitian Answers

Should men take multivitamins? I answer this question and dive deep into the subject, highlighting the important vitamins for men and signs you may need a multivitamin.

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A diet that consists of many whole foods, lean protein and whole grains is the most optimal way to consume as many vitamins and nutrients as possible each day. However, there is a large portion of American men that find it difficult to get everything that they need from their meals alone.

There have been many studies performed over the years, the majority of which determine that men have nutritional deficiencies in most of the major food groups. Dietary choices are often to blame, but there may be other food restrictions and health issues that are causing the problem.

I would like to talk to you as a registered dietitian, about the different reasons why a man should consider taking a multivitamin supplement. Women tend to be much more on board with supplementation and focusing on their health, while men are often preoccupied with other things. I hope to get you inspired to take wellness into your own hands, ensuring that you’re getting all of the essential nutrients that you need each day, so you live a long and healthy life.

Is It Good for Men to Take Multivitamins? Let’s Explore!

There are a number of factors that affect a man’s diet and lifestyle choices, such as age, current health conditions, job, etc. Regardless of their age, there are specific nutrients that are needed by the male body in order for essential bodily processes to take place. From regulating blood pressure to supporting proper immune responses, things like B complex vitamins, vitamins A, C, E and D are necessary. When deficiencies are present for longer periods of time, this can lead to a whole host of problems such as fatigue, headaches, inflammation and an increase in illness.

Multivitamins for men come in many different shapes, sizes and formulations. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a high-quality product (like organic multivitamins for men) that is based on gender, but it’s optimal to find a product that is designed for your specific age group as well.

If you're searching for a multivitamin for men over 60, older males benefit from specific nutrients for things like prostate health and low cholesterol numbers.

Younger men may want nutrients included in their multivitamin that provides them with energy, faster recovery times after working out and even a boost in fertility.

If you suspect that you may have a nutritional deficiency of some sort, let’s take a look at some of the signs and symptoms that you can look out for. If any one of these issues are familiar to you, consider purchasing a multivitamin. You may also want to talk to your doctor about what you’re experiencing.

Signs and Symptoms a Man May Need a Multivitamin

While nutritional deficiencies can present themselves in a number of ways, here are some of the most common signs and symptoms to watch out for as a man who may need a multivitamin.

man taking a multivitamin

You’re Getting Sick Often

When there is one nutritional deficiency in your diet, there are likely more. However, all it takes is one specific nutrient to be low in order to affect your immune response. Consuming low amounts of things like vitamins A, B6, C, D and E can affect how well the body can fight back against pathogens and germs. Zinc, selenium, copper, iron and folic acid are also important for ample cell protection. The immune system needs assistance with supporting the growth of immune cells, producing antibodies and being able to stay vigilant throughout a lengthy illness.

Your immune system is ready to protect you when you’re regularly consuming a diet that is high in plant-based foods. That’s because whole foods typically have very high nutrient profiles, and they can attack pathogens that are commonly floating around during cold and flu season. The use of a multivitamin to fill in potential nutritional gaps can help you fight off illness before it makes you feel sick, but you may also notice that they length or severity of your illness is much less when you’re eating right and using a multivitamin.

Feeling Tired More Often

There are a few different nutritional deficiencies that can cause fatigue. You may find that you feel tired more often, you tire easily, or you just don’t feel like you can get enough rest even after a full night of sleep. Vitamin D is something that we get from sunshine in the summer, but many people are deficient in the winter months. Not only does vitamin D affect energy levels, but it aids in a normal immune response and balances your gut health. Magnesium is necessary for converting the food that we eat into energy. If you’re not getting enough of this essential electrolyte, you may feel tired, anxious, jittery or unable to sleep well.

A vitamin B12 deficiency goes hand in hand with iron. B12 helps your body create red blood cells. If you’re low in B12 and there are fewer red blood cells to utilize, this can lead to anemia (low iron levels). Anemia can impact your circulatory system in a way that makes it harder for oxygen and nutrients to travel through the body to get to where they are needed. This makes you feel tired and sluggish.

Omega 3 fatty acids are needed by the body for ample energy production. Not getting enough from diet or supplements will make you feel fatigued.

Eating an Unhealthy Diet

It’s really important that you’re honest with yourself about the kind of diet that you’re eating each day. We’re not talking about an occasional cheat day where you allow yourself to nosh on your favorite foods. What types of foods are you eating regularly? If you’re consuming high fat foods, processed items and often skip produce as part of your everyday meals, chances are you have at least one (or more) nutritional deficiencies. You may not notice any symptoms yet, but they’re probably right around the corner. Also, it’s likely more nutritional deficiencies will pop up later on. Taking your diet into your own hands can give you the best chance possible at getting all of your nutrients from diet alone, though I always encourage supplementation as a registered dietitian. There’s nothing wrong with assuming you have nutritional gaps that need to be addressed.

Chronic illnesses

According to the CDC, six out of ten adults deal with some sort of chronic illness, whether it be diabetes, cancer, an autoimmune disorder or heart condition. Four out of ten of those people have more than one chronic illness. Diet plays a very large role in the prevalence of chronic disease. Eating foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats is much more likely to cause negative health issues than it would be to eat clean and use a multivitamin to ensure you’re getting all of the nutrients that you need. In many cases, chronic illness can be avoided with the use of a healthy diet and lifestyle. There are also many conditions that can be reversed by taking on a healthier diet.

Which Vitamins Should a Man Take Daily?

Multivitamins for men come in all different formulations. You can find products that are for the younger crowd, and there are versions that include nutrients that older men need.

Multivitamins for people following a vegan lifestyle have become popular in recent years. However, there are some essential nutrients that should always be included in a multivitamin product for men regardless of your diet or your lifestyle.

vitamins for men

Vitamin A

VITAMIN A can help protect cells in the body by neutralizing harmful free radicals that you come into contact with. Free radicals can have quite an impact on your health, as they have the ability to damage cell membranes. Vitamin A is also beneficial for eye health.

Vitamin D

Males need vitamin D in order to protect their bone health, muscle function, teeth and so much more. If you’re deficient in vitamin D, you can experience all kinds of symptoms from mood disturbances to pain. Getting sick more often, feeling tired frequently and back pain can also be caused by vitamin D deficiency. An adult male should be getting approximately 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day, but it’s acceptable to consume closer to 4,000 IU daily.

Vitamin C

There are a lot of health benefits that come from the regular consumption of vitamin C from foods or supplements. Thanks to the immune support that vitamin C provides, it can shorten the duration of colds and other illnesses. It also plays a very important role in collagen production, which can affect everything from bone and joint health to skin health (including anti-aging properties). Vitamin C also helps with the absorption of iron.

B Vitamins

All of the B vitamins play a very important role in maintaining your health. They have a profound impact on your energy, cognitive function, cell metabolism and mood. B vitamins can even impact your eyesight, appetite and cardiovascular health.

Calcium

It’s beneficial to get calcium from your diet, but there is the potential to supplement if a man is not getting close to the quota of between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams per day. Calcium isn’t produced by the body on its own, but it’s prevalent in dairy products like yogurt, cheese and milk. You can also source calcium from leafy green vegetables and fortified products. Essential for bone health and protecting against things like diabetes and cancer.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an important component of our cells that boosts immune function, helps the body deal with stress, increases energy levels and helps us retain fluids. Men should be taking 400 milligrams of magnesium each day.

Zinc

Only trace amounts of zinc are needed by the body, but it is still very important for functions like supporting a healthy immune response, preventing eye issues like macular degeneration and aiding in protein synthesis. Men should be taking 11 milligrams of zinc per day. Food sources include shellfish, beans, eggs, pumpkin seeds and yogurt.

Potassium

Potassium is a very important mineral in the body that assists with regulating fluid balance, the contraction of muscles and maintaining appropriate nerve signals. Appropriate amounts of potassium can help reduce blood pressure levels naturally. Potassium can be found in bananas, beans, beets and avocado. Men should be supplementing with 3,400 milligrams per day.

Folate

The tolerable upper limit for men taking folate on a daily basis is 1,000 micrograms. Folic acid plays a very large role in disease prevention. Men can take it to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, in addition to preventing Alzheimer’s disease, reducing the risk of stroke, preventing diabetes and fighting back against depression and other mood disorders. Folate is something many men are deficient in because it’s prevalent in things like leafy greens, spinach, shellfish and sunflower seeds. These aren’t foods that a lot of men eat on a regular basis.

Omega-3

Omega-3 supplements are being sold on their own for the variety of health benefits that they provide, but they also are included in a number of multivitamin products marketed towards men. Omega-3 fatty acids, or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), improve cell barrier function which protects your body from toxins. They can also improve the communication between cells and regulate your immune system.

It's easier now more than ever (thanks to science and technology) to get all of the essential nutrients and vitamins you need as a man with pre-made or personalized vitamin packs.

Reasons for a Man to Use a Multivitamin

All of the nutrients that are included in a multivitamin supplement are beneficial in one way or another. A reputable brand will choose their formulation based on the scientific evidence that is available, pointing to certain benefits from certain components. It’s likely that your body is deficient in one or more nutrients because of gaps in your diet. As you age, this problem will typically become more prevalent. This is all the more reason to use a multivitamin to ensure that your body has what it needs to thrive day in and day out.

Reasons a Man Should Not Take a Multivitamin

It’s important that you realize that a multivitamin isn’t a miracle supplement. You will still need to take care of your body by way of a healthy diet and lifestyle. A multivitamin isn’t going to reverse abuse that you’re putting your body through from alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, etc. However, being realistic about what you can achieve with a multivitamin can really help you get a boost in your health. If you have been diagnosed with a health condition of some sort, you may just want to touch base with your doctor to see if it’s ok for you to supplement with certain nutrients or ingredients. You want to avoid any kind of potential interaction.

Do Men Need to Take Vitamins?

Both men and women will benefit from taking vitamins on a regular basis. These supplements will typically work best if you’re taking them daily rather than just consuming one here and there when you suspect that your diet was lacking that day. It’s really quite hard to determine what exact nutrients you’ve taken in from your diet, so I always recommend to my clients (both male and female) that they find a multivitamin that they trust. After a few months of use, you should see a dramatic shift in how you feel.

When Should Men Take Multivitamins?

While you can take a men’s multivitamin any time of day, most people like to take their vitamins and supplements first thing each morning. This is a part of your routine that you can get out of the way, so you don’t forget about it later on. Also, you can minimize potential stomach upset by taking your multivitamin with your breakfast. Try not to consume it on an empty stomach. If you do experience issues with your multivitamin, some people prefer to take it later in the day when they’ve had a large meal like dinner.

The Bottom Line: Should Men Take a Multivitamin?

My experience as a registered dietitian has really solidified my belief that multivitamins are beneficial for pretty much everyone. The way our food is processed and made these days really affects its nutritional composition. It’s hard for anyone to get all of the vitamins and minerals that they need from diet alone. I even have a hard time of it some weeks.

If you’re looking for a multivitamin that fills in nutritional gaps without including too high of doses, there are plenty of options available. There are also products that strive to provide you with all of the essential nutrients you’ll need daily, allowing the body to process what’s not needed. Take some time to do research on the different items that are available. You can also consult your doctor or a professional such as myself to figure out what kind of men’s multivitamin you would benefit most from.

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Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD

Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD, earned her masters degree in Nutrition and Foods from the University of Georgia. She's a Registered Dietitian at Morrison Healthcare and has a strong passion in helping people improve their wellness!

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