Updated: Jan 27
As middle age approaches for men, they may start to become increasingly concerned about the choices they have made in the past and how it impacts their health. Perhaps they have a friend or loved one who has had a recent struggle in this area, some serious, some not so serious, which has prompted them to think about the future.
According to statistics, men are more likely to smoke and drink, eat less healthfully, and put off medical checkups and care. Of course, each man is different and because of the amount of education via the web, family, friends and health professionals, men are becoming more aware of the importance of wise choices in their diet and health. Early detection for prostate cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, along with education on how to prevent them is critical to better outcomes in middle age and beyond.
With that said, there are some specific nutrients that men need and usually don't get enough of. Most of these particular nutrients are in foods you may already have on hand and aren't hard to find. Although that may be the case, it's essential to pay attention to them and to the amount and frequency in which you're eating each food that includes these essential nutrients.
With both men and women marrying and having children later in life, sperm health is an essential consideration for men, especially if they're 40 or over. Zinc is a smaller molecule that doesn't always attract a lot of attention. However, it can have a big impact on your health and fertility in men.
Besides, low zinc intake may lead to excessive inflammation, damage to bodily tissues and the development of autoimmune and chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Why do men over 40 need more zinc? The ability to absorb and utilize zinc tends to decrease as we age, though we don’t know why it isn’t well absorbed.
Fish, crab, lobster, oysters, pork, and meat are among the top sources of zinc. The bioavailability of zinc in some plant-based foods is lower than zinc from animal foods due to phytates that bind zinc and remove it from the body.
Magnesium is a mineral our bodies need for optimal health with it being the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. It is vital for regulating countless biochemical functions as well as numerous physiological systems that contribute to metabolic and cardiovascular health in men (and women). We are continuing to learn of the importance of Magnesium and in fact, it is much more important than researchers had previously thought.
Current statistics indicate that most men don’t get enough magnesium-rich foods in their diet. Additionally, chronic diseases such as kidney and cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes and some malabsorption disorders can contribute to low magnesium levels. Excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption and diuretics increase urine output which may lead to low magnesium as well.
Foods that have the highest amounts of magnesium include: whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and nuts. One concern that I have with the popularity of low carbohydrate and the ketogenic diet is that it appears that many who try these diets eat little to no whole grains. Aside from the elimination of the fiber from whole grains which is essential for a healthy gut, they are rich in this mineral which may have severe implications for cardiovascular health and chronic disease prevention.
The recommended amount of magnesium for men 40 and older is 420 mg/day. There isn’t an established amount a man would need for disease prevention. Some research does suggest that for every 100 mg increase in magnesium in the diet, there may be a decrease in Type 2 diabetes by 15%. However, more research needs to be done.
Men need vitamin B12 to produce myelin, which promotes proper nerve functioning as well as the production of red blood cells. Not to mention several biochemical processes in your body which include lipid and protein synthesis. B12 supplementation is usually necessary if a vegan diet is followed since this vitamin is in animal products. Although one may not be vegan, if a man follows a plant-based style of eating with only small amounts of meat and dairy, this vitamin may not be significantly present in the diet.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) is about 2.4 mcg. The best sources of B12 are beef, organ meats, clams, sardines, fortified cereal, tuna, nutritional yeast, salmon, dairy products, and eggs.
Although food is the best way to get nutrients, a supplement may be necessary for men over 40.
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the recommended amount of potassium for males 19 and older is 3,400 milligrams (mg) per day. The average intake of potassium for adults is estimated to be about 1755 mg/day. Fewer than 2% of adults meet the recommendation.
This deficiency in intake for potassium is a problem for men over 40 because it is responsible for controlling acid-base balance, the electrical activity of the cardiovascular system, building muscle and proteins. Eating adequate amounts in the diet may help protect against cardiovascular disease, sarcopenia, and help prevent kidney stones.
To meet your daily potassium goal, consider adding some of these foods to your menu on a regular basis:
1 medium baked potato with skin: 930 milligrams
1 cup cooked spinach: 840 milligrams
½ cup raisins: 618 milligrams
1 cup cooked broccoli: 460 milligrams
1 cup cubed cantaloupe: 430 milligrams
1 cup chopped tomatoes: 430 milligrams
1 medium banana: 420 milligrams
1 cup raw carrot slices: 390 milligrams
1 cup low-fat milk: 350 to 380 milligrams
½ cup cooked lentils: 365 milligrams
1 cup cooked quinoa: 320 milligrams
If you're interested in an individualized approach to meeting your nutritional needs and improving your health, contact Kim!