Just like any other demographic, adult men also have their own specific needs when it comes to nutrition and health.
In order to sustain health and reduce the effects of aging as well as the risk of chronic illness, lifestyle and nutritional choices are the most influential factors governing the state of our health.
However, nowadays we just can't receive all of the nutrients we need from food any more due to depleted soils, growing conditions, over-processing of food, increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and transport times (1).
In addition, most of us are not eating enough nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables in the first place, falling well under the recommended daily serving amount.
As men age, in particular, shifts in hormones and their lifestyle, as well as the natural aging process, make them more susceptible to nutrient deficiencies and health problems down the road.
This is where supplements can come in handy. Supplementing a healthy diet and lifestyle can help to enhance overall health, promote vitality, and prevent complications.
In 2015, almost half of Canadians over the age of 1 reported using a nutritional supplement (2).
Below are some of our top recommendations for men over the age of 40:
Multivitamin and mineral
As we age typically our nutrient intake declines due to lack of diversity in our diets and compromised digestion. As mentioned above, obtaining all of the vitamins and minerals we need through our diet has become a complex matter therefore a multivitamin and mineral supplement can help to bridge that gap from what we are getting through our diet and what we actually need.
Calcium and magnesium are often deficient in older populations, as absorption in the gut begins to decline after age 50, affecting overall nutrient status.
We recommend choosing a multivitamin and mineral supplement using whole food ingredients as well as the active forms of the vitamins in order to improve absorption and receive the most benefit whilst avoiding any ill effects from synthetic inactive forms.
More than 20% of adults are said to be deficient in vitamin B12, and it's not only vegans and vegetarians that need to be cautious of deficiency!
Low vitamin B12 can be an issue for many people due to malabsorption issues that increase with age, and under conditions such as chronic stress, poor diet, and medications like PPIs (3).
This vitamin is absolutely essential for brain function and mental clarity, nerve function, the formation of red blood cells, and DNA formation.
Vitamin B12 is more commonly low in vegans, vegetarians, and older populations therefore testing and supplementation is recommended.
This is a tricky vitamin to obtain adequate levels from dietary sources. In addition, deficiency is quite common especially if you live farther away from the equator and lack sunlight exposure.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin needed for optimal immune function, bone health, skin health, mental health, and many more functions in the body.
Symptoms of low vitamin D include muscle weakness, bone loss, and increased risk of fractures.
According to Health Canada, out of all of the nutrients, vitamin D had the highest prevalence of inadequate intake among Canadians (4). The need for vitamin D also increases after the age of 50.
We recommend supplementing vitamin D alongside vitamin K2 to prevent arterial calcification by directing nutrients to where they are needed in the body.
Commonly recommended for cardiovascular health, brain function, and inflammation, omega 3 fats are essential fats, meaning the body cannot make them and they must be consumed through the diet or from supplementation.
Omega 3 fats can help to reduce inflammatory markers and oxidative stress, two factors that tend to increase during the aging process and that are implicated in many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes. Research also supports the benefits of omega 3 in reducing cognitive decline in the aging population (5).
Omega 3 fats can be found in plant foods such as walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds however the conversion into their active forms, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is quite poor compared to sources found in wild fatty fish such as wild salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
Why might one need to supplement with omega 3 fats? The Standard American Diet favors omega 6 fat consumption in the form of vegetable oils and not so much the omega 3 fats.
If you are not eating adequate amounts of omega 3 fats daily supplementation may be a worthwhile investment. In addition, omega 3 fats have been shown to provide benefits for those with cardiovascular disease, age-related macular degeneration, and even dementia (6).
Magnesium represents a commonly deficient mineral, as it is flushed out of the system by caffeine, alcohol, diuretics, medications, excessive exercising, diarrhea, and even chronic stress. A compromised gut also influences our ability to absorb magnesium, and these challenges only increase with age.
Magnesium is an important mineral in modulating the stress response, maintaining bone elasticity, and supporting cardiovascular health (7). This mineral is involved in over 300 enzyme systems and is required for a significant amount of reactions in the body.
Men over the age of 50 are also more susceptible to low magnesium levels.
Low levels of magnesium are associated with increased markers of inflammation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
You can find magnesium in foods such as leafy green vegetables, dried apricots, brown rice, almonds, pecans, cashews, and brazil nuts. However, soil depletion and the processing of foods such as grains can deplete magnesium levels found in foods today therefore supplementation is often recommended.
The more easily absorbed forms of magnesium include magnesium citrate and magnesium bisglycinate.
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.