As we get older, our hormone levels fluctuate, our lifestyle choices undergo transitions, and the types of stressors that impact us shift—it’s all a part of life. Family, financial, employment, and social demands are different from those a decade or more ago. Yet while all of this is occurring, we often forget that our nutritional needs are changing as well.
How are you addressing those changing nutritional needs? Only you can answer that question for yourself, but if statistics are any indication, adults in American are deficient in many important nutrients. Based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and other sources, for example, 95 percent of adults don’t meet the daily requirements for vitamin D, 94 percent don’t get enough vitamin E, 61 percent don’t get enough magnesium, and 49 percent are low in calcium.
Here are 9 supplements all men who are over 40 should consider taking based on their individual lifestyle habits. Keep in mind that even when consuming a healthy diet on a regular basis, various environmental stressors—physical and psychological—can take its toll on your body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients.
Most of us know about how important calcium is for strong bones and teeth, but its role in heart, muscle, and nerve function, hormone regulation, blood clotting, and blood pressure is critical as well. Given the high percentage of adults who do not get enough calcium from food, supplementation seems to be a viable option.
A word of caution concerning calcium supplementation for men. Some research, including a study of nearly 400,000 men and women followed for more than 12 years, found that men who took more than 1,000 mg of calcium supplement daily were 20 percent more likely to die of heart disease than their peers who did not take calcium. This increased risk of death was not seen in women nor in getting calcium from food.
Therefore, men who are not getting sufficient calcium from food should either boost their calcium-rich food intake or be sure they limit their calcium supplementation to no more than 1,000 mg daily.
Although your body produces coenzyme Q10, the production levels decline as you get older. Benefits of this antioxidant include helping in the fight against cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease, as well as slowing the progression of aging. A daily dose of 100 mg is suggested. However, if you are taking statins, you should talk to your doctor about increasing the dose to 200 mg because statins reduce coenzyme Q10.
The role of fiber in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease should not be underestimated. Fiber helps eliminate cholesterol and the accumulation of plaque in the arteries. It also has been found to be a key player in reducing the risk of colon cancer, a disease that is the third cause of cancer deaths among men. Men should strive to get between 25 and 35 grams of fiber daily from food. If you fall short of this goal, all-natural fiber supplements that contain whole husk psyllium, flax seed, chia seed, and oats are suggested.
Unless you eat at least two servings of fatty fish every week, chances are you are not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are critical for men over 40 because of the rising risk of heart disease and stroke in this population. Omega-3s help keep triglyceride and blood pressure levels low and also work to decrease inflammation.
Although there’s no established dose of omega-3 fatty acids, a common recommendation is for 1,000 mg daily for health men and 2,000 to 4,000 mg for those who have heart disease. Check with your healthcare provider before starting a regimen of fish oil supplementation.
This B vitamin is often associated with women’s health because adequate levels are necessary for pregnant women to help prevent certain birth defects. However, folic acid also is a key factor in preventing clogged arteries because it helps regulate homocysteine, an amino acid that increases the risk of blood clots. Other duties of the B vitamin include DNA synthesis and hormone balance.
The recommended daily intake of folic acid is 400 micrograms daily. If you are using medications for acid reflux or heartburn, such as proton pump inhibitors (i.e., Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec), you risk folic acid deficiency.
This mineral is involved in more than 300 biochemical activities in the body, including blood pressure control, muscle relaxation, anxiety and depression relief, lowering insulin resistance, reducing inflammation, lowering insulin resistance, calcium absorption, and supporting bone strength, among others. Men who experience muscle cramps and spasms, especially associated with exercise, may be low in magnesium. The RDA for magnesium for men is 400 to 420 mg daily.
A healthy gut is critical at any age, so there’s nothing magical about age 40. However, it’s important to get into the habit of nourishing and fortifying your immune system and intestinal flora as you get older. If you haven’t started already, now’s the time. Benefits you may notice quickly are better digestion and regularity. Probiotics also may lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure and assist in weight loss.
Look for probiotic supplements that contain about 10 or more species and strains. No standard dosing has been established, but take at least 10 to 20 billion CFUs daily as a maintenance program and higher doses if you are battling digestive issues.
We begin to lose optimal ability to absorb this essential vitamin as we age, so supplementation should be considered. Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy nervous system function, production of red blood cells, and energy production. If you consume partial or complete plant-based diet, then you will likely need to take a supplement because nearly all sources of this vitamin are from animals. You can get vitamin B12 from plant foods that have been fortified with it, such as plant beverages and cereals.
Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy blood and brain function. The recommended daily intake is 2.4 mcg.
While insufficient vitamin D affects most adults, it is especially important for men as they age because this nutrient is an essential part of testosterone production. Vitamin D also enhances energy levels and sex drive and is a significant player in protein synthesis, tissue repair, and fat burning. All of these factors work in synch, and the unifying feature is getting enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D also has a big role in bone health, as it, along with calcium, are critical for structural integrity. Too little vitamin D can be a factor in the development of osteoporosis down the road.
Experts do not agree on the amount of vitamin D supplementation nor the blood levels of the vitamin men should have for optimal health. The Institute of Medicine says 600 International Units (IUs) is a sufficient daily dose for the vast majority of people. However, an independent analysis of data used by the Institute established that most people need 8,895 IU daily to reach vitamin D values of 50 nmol/L, considered to be a healthy blood level by many health professionals.
Before starting a vitamin D3 supplement program, you should have a blood test to determine your vitamin D levels. Your healthcare provider can help identify the best vitamin D dose for your needs.
As you age, your physical and psychological needs change and evolve. You need to make adjustments to your nutritional intake to ensure you are keeping up with those changes. Men older than 40 should consider taking supplements to help meet those changing nutritional needs.
Environmental Working Group. How much is too much? Appendix B: Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies in the US. 2014 Jun 19
Fulgoni VL 3rd at al. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: where do Americans get their nutrients? Journal of Nutrition 2011 Oct; 141(10): 1847-54
Larsson SC. Are calcium supplements harmful to cardiovascular disease? Comment on “Dietary and supplemental calcium intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality: the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. JAMA Internal Medicine 2013; 173(8): 647-48
Khalesi S et al. Effect of probiotics on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Hypertension 2014 Oct; 64(4): 897-903
La Fata G et al. Probiotics and the gut immune system: indirect regulation. Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins 2018 Mar; 10(1): 11-21
NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. National Cancer Institute
Papadimitriou DT. The big vitamin D mistake. Journal of Preventive Medicine & Public Health 2017 Jul; 50(4): 278-81