Too often, the topic of men’s health goes overlooked. It’s a well-known fact that men are more likely to succumb to chronic illnesses, and various statistics indicate that American women outlive their male counterparts. As of 2021, the latest year for which data is available, life expectancy at birth for women in the United States is 79.1 years, while for men it’s 73.2.
These statistics may not come as a surprise, considering that women tend to be more intentional with their dietary choices and exercise habits. However, statistics don’t tell the whole story.
Given the widespread prevalence of nutrient deficiencies across the country, nutrient supplementation emerges as one approach for men to achieve and maintain long-lasting health.
Men often experience deficiencies in four essential nutrients, according to Dr. Sage Wheeler, medical director of SageMED in Bellevue, Washington, and a naturopathic physician with more than 15 years of experience specializing in men’s health.
These deficiencies can have health consequences, including an elevated risk of dementia and increased susceptibility to cancer. By supplementing these nutrients, men may potentially enhance their strength, fortify their immune systems, and improve their overall quality of life.
Vitamin D, often called the “sunshine vitamin,” is frequently lacking in American men, Wheeler told The Epoch Times. The National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly 42% of the U.S. population is deficient in vitamin D, with higher prevalence observed in specific clinical subgroups, such as Black individuals and Hispanics.
Although vitamin D primarily supports bone health, maintaining levels of 60 to 80 nanograms per millilitre can also improve immune function, providing defence against colds, flu, and even COVID-19, Wheeler said. Spending time in the sun and consuming oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and cod, along with egg yolks, can help reach this optimal vitamin D range.
Wheeler also highlighted the vitamin’s potential to alleviate depression and anxiety, particularly benefiting those with seasonal affective disorder.
When supplementing, vitamin D3 should be combined with vitamin K2, especially in higher doses, Wheeler said.
“When combined appropriately as D3/K2, it can be dosed more aggressively for faster optimization,” he said.
Given that our skin synthesizes vitamin D from sunlight, regular blood tests measuring 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 are recommended for those who get little sun, especially during the winter months when sun exposure is limited.
According to Wheeler, omega-3 fatty acids, ranking second only to vitamin D, are frequently lacking in his patients. Initial screenings reveal that approximately 95% of men exhibit a deficiency. Some research indicates that up to 68% of adults in the United Sates don’t consume sufficient omega-3 fats to meet their nutritional requirements.
“Omega-3 fats are essential for optimal heart health, buttery smooth joints, supple muscles, and brain health,” Wheeler said.
Cold-water fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines, along with plant sources such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
The OmegaCheck fasting test is widely used to assess omega-3 status. Wheeler added that maintaining an optimal range of above 8% for omega-3 fatty acids has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by approximately 30% ompared to individuals in the average 4% range.
A study published in April 2023 found that long-term consumption of omega-rich foods and supplements led to a 20 to 64% decrease in dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements come in three types: inexpensive ethyl esters, high-quality triglycerides, and superior monoglycerides. Monoglycerides are two to three times more potent due to better absorption, making 1,000 mg of monoglyceride omegas equivalent to approximately 2,700 mg of triglyceride-based omegas, according to Wheeler.
“I recommend eating fish two to three times per week and taking 2,500–3,000 mg of a monoglyceride formula or 5,000 mg of a triglyceride formula once per day with food,” Wheeler said.
Vitamin B12 and folate, essential B vitamins with multiple health benefits, are often insufficiently consumed by men, according to Wheeler. Inadequate levels can lead to fatigue, depression, anxiety, neuropathy, erectile dysfunction, and dementia.
“The data on dementia are particularly exciting, showing a substantial slowing of cognitive decline in those with a folate-rich diet or supplementation,” Wheeler said.
B vitamin testing, even for experienced physicians, can be perplexing, according to Wheeler. Tests such as serum folate and serum B12, which evaluate the transfer of vitamins from the gut to the bloodstream, only identify severe deficiencies. To assess vitamin delivery into cells, including brain cells, the examination focuses on waste products eliminated by B vitamins, such as homocysteine and methylmalonic acid. These waste products are inflammatory and undesirable, making them “the garbage of cellular energy production,” Wheeler said.
High levels of homocysteine indicate a need for increased B vitamin intake. The optimal level of homocysteine is somewhere between 5 and 7 micromoles per litre (mcmol/L), although some sources suggest as much as 15 mcmol/L, and methylmalonic acid should be 0.07 to 0.27 mcmol/L.
According to Wheeler, the richest sources of B vitamins are found in meat such as beef and chicken, in seafood such as clams, oysters, and salmon, and in dark leafy greens. While a diet abundant in these foods should fulfil the body’s requirements, optimizing these nutrients may require supplementation.
Unlocking Fatherhood’s Potential: Optimize With Nutrients
Prioritizing their health is crucial for fathers because it can have far-reaching benefits. By optimizing essential nutrients, fathers can enhance bone health, preserve memory, and strengthen the immune system.
A 2021 study that investigated the impact of parents’ eating habits on their children found that fathers have a greater influence over mothers in shaping their children’s dietary choices.
While similarities exist between both parents, these findings highlight the unique role fathers play in influencing their children’s eating behaviours. Consequently, interventions aimed at promoting healthy eating habits should take into account the significant contribution fathers make, according to the report.
It’s clear, therefore, that fathers’ commitment to healthy eating not only benefits their own well-being but also positively affects the health of their children. By leading by example and adopting nutritious eating habits, fathers can create a positive ripple effect that extends to their entire family’s overall health and lifestyle.
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How Stress Prevents You From Absorbing The Nutrients You Eat
Is stress affecting how well you absorb nutrients in the food you eat? It could very well be.
A 2020 study by clinical psychologist and researcher Adrian Lopresti, Ph.D., suggests that excess or chronic psychological or environmental stress may have a negative effect on micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) concentrations. For example, magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, and niacin may become depleted due to physical and emotional stress.
Micronutrients are essential for biochemical reactions that occur throughout the body, including in the brain, especially during times of stress.
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