Men have different nutritional requirements than women, due to their unique physiology. Here are five key nutrients for men’s health to keep in mind when meal planning.
Magnesium plays a key role in many important bodily functions, including the immune system, energy production, digestion and nerve and muscle activity. A man lacking in magnesium may experience painful muscle spasms and cramps, anxiety, lethargy, or an irregular heartbeat. To stave off these symptoms of magnesium deficiency incorporate some of these foods into your daily diet:
- Dark leafy green vegetables
- Dark chocolate
- Pumpkin seeds
- Black beans
Another way your body can absorb magnesium is through a soothing foot bath or a soak in the tub with Epsom salt. The magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt will penetrate through the skin as you relax. A couple tablespoons are all that is required for a foot bath, and about a cup is recommended for the bathtub.
Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the 'sunshine vitamin' because the skin produces it when it is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D assists the body in absorbing calcium, which in turn contributes to strong teeth and bones. This nutrient also provides some protection against cancer. Foods high in Vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon
- Beef liver
- Egg yolk
- Fortified milk
This versatile vitamin is responsible for red blood cell production, DNA production, bone health and maintaining the cardiovascular system. It is necessary for certain neurological functions and contributes to an overall sense of well-being. Foods high in Vitamin B12 include:
- Red meat
There are no plant-based options rich in B12, so those on a vegan diet may want to consider adding fortified soy products or cereals, nutritional yeast or supplements in order to reach their daily requirements of vitamin B12.
This nutrient serves many vital functions to keep the body healthy and strong. It delivers nourishment into the cells and removes toxins and waste products from them. Potassium also maintains the balance between the fluids and electrolytes in the body and is responsible for nerve health and muscle contraction. A lack of potassium can cause a host of symptoms including nausea, muscle cramping and heart palpitations. Foods rich in potassium include:
- Dark, green leafy vegetables
- Potatoes (when baking one, leave the skin on for even more benefits)
- White beans
Iodine is a trace mineral that helps convert food into energy. It also plays a significant role in thyroid health and has the job of producing thyroid hormones. Consuming inadequate amounts of iodine can cause memory problems, weight gain, muscle fatigue, persistent tiredness and feeling cold. Foods with plenty of iodine in them include:
- Kelp (the food with the highest amount)
- Seafood such as cod, sea bass and haddock
- Navy beans
Men may want to consider snacking on a few walnuts everyday as they have been found to prevent cancerous cell growth in the prostate. Walnut oil, when taken as a dietary supplement, does the job as well. Salmon has also been linked to inhibiting prostate cancer.
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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.