Men and women more alike than different, but they have distinct nutritional needs. The following is a list of nutrients men may be missing from their diet. While this list won’t apply to all men, it does address common dietary concerns. If you think you, or the men in your life, may be deficient in one or more of these nutrients, get in touch with a healthcare practitioner to learn how to add these vital components to the diet.
Healthy protein. This is an area where intakes by men and women differ. According to the American Society for Microbiology, men are more likely to eat meat and poultry, while women consume more fruits and vegetables.1 However, while protein is an important macronutrient that helps to build and repair muscle tissue, men may not need as much in their diet as they tend to consume. The average 175-pound man needs only about 60 grams per day.2 The key is ensuring consumption of healthy proteins. Diets high in meat and cheese can contain unhealthy levels of saturated fats, which can raise cholesterol and introduce health risks.3
Fiber. A diet high in protein frequently means a diet low in fiber. In other words, if you’re filling up on meat, you may be skipping the veggies. Dietary fiber is essential for digestive health, but it’s also a key factor in maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding many health issues.3 Add fiber to your diet by filling up on fresh fruits and vegetables (including leafy greens) as well as whole grains.
Omega-3s. Known for their cardiosupportive and other general health benefits, omega-3 fatty acids are an essential element to a healthy diet. You can easily add these healthy fats to your diet by increasing fish, particularly oily fish, intake. Other foods high in omega-3s include flax seeds, walnuts, olive oil, and leafy green vegetables.3 However, one omega-3 oil, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is abundant in canola oil and flaxseed oil, has come under question for its potential impact on prostate health if consumed in excess.4 The moral? It may be better to lean more heavily toward fish and olive oil when you’re looking to get more omega-3 in your diet.
Magnesium. Magnesium plays a key role in more than 300 functions of the human body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, healthy bones, and blood glucose control,5 yet we don’t get nearly enough from our diet. Foods high in magnesium include nuts like almonds and cashews, spinach, peanuts, whole-grain cereal, and soybeans.3,5
Potassium. Potassium is required for normal cell function. Maintaining healthy potassium levels may help reduce hypertension and overall heart health as well as promote healthy digestion.4 Evidence has shown that men with insufficient potassium have increased risk for elevated blood pressure, kidney stones, and other health issues.6
Much like magnesium, potassium can be taken in supplementary form, but many foods also contain high levels of potassium, including dried apricots, lentils, prunes, squash, raisins, potatoes, and kidney beans, among many others. Though bananas may be the best-known potassium source with 422 mg per serving, they have still less than half that of dried apricots (1,101 mg/serving)!6
Selenium. Selenium is a constituent of more than two dozen selenoproteins that play critical roles in reproductive health, thyroid hormone metabolism, and DNA synthesis and help provide protection from oxidative damage and infection.7 While most people consume adequate amounts of selenium, selenium deficiency is associated with male infertility, among other potential risks.8
Many foods are rich in selenium, especially seafood and organ meats, as well as Brazil nuts.8
Lycopene. Foods like tomatoes are naturally high in lycopene, which supports men’s prostate and sexual health, in addition to cardiovascular health.9,10 Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps blood vessels to relax, enhancing circulation and blood flow to support an erection. In addition, certain studies have indicated a link between selenium and male fertility.11
American Society for Microbiology. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080319120318.htm. Accessed December 18, 2018.INTEGRIS On Your Health. https://integrisok.com/resources/on-your-health/2017/november/how-to-eat-complete-proteins-in-vegetarian-and-vegan-diets. Accessed December 18, 2018.INTEGRIS On Your Health. November 28, 2017. https://integrisok.com/resources/on-your-health/2017/november/the-five-nutrients-men-miss-the-most. Accessed December 12, 2018.Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/good-nutrition-should-guidelines-differ-for-men-and-women. Accessed December 13, 2018.NIH. Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional. Accessed December 17, 2018.NIH. Office of Dietary Supplements.https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-HealthProfessional/#h5. Accessed December 17, 2018.Sunde RA. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:225-237.NIH. Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/#en1. Accessed December 17, 2018.Mordente A et al. Curr Med Chem. 2011;18(8):1146-1163.Gann PH et al. Cancer Res. 1999;59(6):1225-1230.Durairajanayagam D et al. Asian J Androl. 2014;16(3):420-425.
By the Metagenics Marketing Team