5 Key Nutrients for Men

Good news for American guys: the life-expectancy gap has narrowed to 76.7 years for men and 81.3 years for women. Still, men tend to use and abuse their bodies—working and playing hard (often under stress), grabbing a burger or pizza rather than planning nutritious meals, and ducking doctor’s appointments.

But with age, the stakes rise for common men’s health conditions: cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, high blood pressure and stroke, skin cancer, and diabetes. Along with diet and lifestyle upgrades, these key supplements can fill in nutritional shortfalls and support wellness and vitality in men, especially those 40 and older.


This group of water-soluble vitamins helps turn food into energy in the body, among other important functions. Under stress, the body uses more of these vitamins, so taking a high-quality B-complex supplement supports energy production.

Studies show B-vitamins can also lower homocysteine levels. High homocysteine levels are pro-inflammatory to the brain, blood vessels, and peripheral nerves. It’s involved in neuropathy, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even depression. There’s a relationship between depression and heart disease (coronary artery disease), and it turns out homocysteine causes depression too. It could be the common denominator.

Because B12 is found in meat, shellfish, milk, and eggs, vegans may benefit from taking a supplement, as may some people over age 50, who develop trouble absorbing B12  from food.

Dose: Choose a supplement with up to 50 mg each of vitamins B1, B2, and B3. Amounts of other B vitamins tend to be relatively consistent in supplements.

Omega-3 Fats

Working more omega-3 fatty acids into a balanced diet—by eating fatty fish such as wild salmon and supplementing with fish oil—is one of the healthiest things a man can do. Plenty of research exists as to why essential fatty acids are important. Omega-3's support brain health, heart health, and optimal wellness (feeling good day to day).

Another crucial health tip is consuming omega-3 and omega-6 in a balanced ratio to maintain health. When out of balance, excess intake of omega-6 promotes inflammation, increases blood clotting, and depresses the immune system.  

Dose: Experts recommend 500-1000 mg EPA+DHA per day to maintain health and avoid deficiency.

Therapeutic doses of EPA+DHA range from 1 to 4 grams per day. I like this Omega-3 supplement. 

To support a healthy inflammatory response in the body, clinical studies suggest a minimum of 3 grams of EPA and DHA. Read the supplement facts on the product to know how much individual EPA and DHA you are getting. 


Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives some fruits and vegetables their red color, particularly tomatoes, papaya, watermelon, red cabbage, grapefruit, mango, guava and carrots. It appears to increase antioxidant activity in the body, which is huge because antioxidants aid in the eliminiation of damaging free radicals. Ultimately, this protects against DNA damage.

Lycopene also proves to be a tool in supporting overall heart health, such as healthy blood pressure and normal levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker. Some research links high lycopene blood levels with protection against prostate and other cancers; eating lycopene-rich tomato paste also appears to protect against UV skin damage.

Lycopene is a fat-soluble nutrient, meaning it's absorbed better when consumed alongside fats, such as avocados, olive oil, nuts or seeds.

Dose: 10–30 mg lycopene daily. (And eat more tomato paste.)


Magnesium is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, and as much as 80% of the population is deficient! It's involved in the immune system, regulating normal muscle and nerve function, blood pressure, blood glucose control, and formation of bones and teeth (just to name a handful of functions). Find out of you're deficient in magnesium here

A 2010 study found supplementing with magnesium reduced men’s colon cancer risk by 52 percent. Bonus: it can promote relaxation and restful sleep.

Dose: Start with 250 mg of chelated magnesium form; consider choosing a liquid or powder for better absorption.

Vitamin D3

Despite a flood of recent research news, many people still have inadequate levels of this critical vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with poor immune function, poor cardiovascular health, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, and hormone imbalance.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means your body stores it in tissues long term; however, it takes a very high amount of vitamin D before it comes harmful. Here is the difference between a water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamin. If you purchase a vitamin D supplement in liquid form, it should be suspended in a healthy fat, such as olive oil or MCT oil, in order to boost its absorption (not sunflower oil or other fats high in omega-6's). I like this liquid vitamin D, and if you want to pair your vitamin D3 with vitamin K2, I like this chewable vitamin D3/K2. It's important to take your vitamin D supplement with food that contains fat, such as nuts, avocado, olives, and full-fat dairy. 

Dose: Recommendations vary depending on who you ask.

The Vitamin D Council recommends 5,000 IU/day

The Food and Nutrition Board recommends 600-800 IU/day

The Endocrine Society recommends 1,500-2,000 IU/day

Bottom Line: Men's bodies are different from women's and their health and nutrition needs are too. It makes a ton of sense for men to take their own supplements, specifically formulated to reflect those differences. 

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods

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