In today’s quick post, I wanted to address a question I hear quite often, which is “What supplements, if any, should I take?”
There are many answers to this question, depending on the individual posing it, their health history, goals, and current diet (among other factors).
For example, if you came to me with longevity as your main goal, I would advise against using protein supplements. However, if your main goal was increasing muscle mass, I would say protein supplementation was the way to go.
But the question remains, are there any supplements men should be taking regardless of their goals? Are there universal supplements that can benefit everybody?
There are three supplements that men can take every day that can help ensure optimal health. Our modern diets and lifestyles have created deficiencies in certain nutrients that are vital to our health. I swear by these supplements and have been using them as a part of my everyday regimen for years.
1. Vitamin D
Considered a pro-hormone rather than an actual vitamin, vitamin D is primarily produced by the body through sun exposure, but can also be safely consumed in supplement form.
Vitamin D is an extremely important nutrient, yet a large portion of the global population is deficient in it. Many important functions of the human body rely on adequate levels of Vitamin D. It plays a role in maintaining the health of bones, the brain, the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, and the immune system.
Studies also suggest Vitamin D can increase testosterone concentrations in men. Other benefits for men include prostate health, fertility support, and an increase in muscle strength and bone density.
I highly recommend getting your Vitamin D levels tested by your doctor. This can help determine if you are getting enough and what can be enhanced through supplementation. Unfortunately, many people do not get enough sunlight or eat enough Vitamin D containing foods to develop an adequate intake.
Your goal for optimal health should be an intake of 4,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily.
The total dose should come from sunlight, food, and the rest from supplementation. Optimal blood levels of Vitamin D are 25OHD level of 40 ng/ml. Again, getting your levels tested will give you a better idea of your levels and how much supplementation you need.
2. Fish Oil
If you are eating a Standard American Diet, you are almost certainly consuming too many Omega-6 fatty acids.
Unhealthy processed foods are made with high levels of industrial seed oils such as sunflower oil, safflower oil, and canola oil. These oils are sky-high in Omega-6 fats. This is extremely problematic when they become a prevalent source of calories in the diet.
The ratio for optimal health of Omega-6 fats to Omega-3 fats in the diet is 1:1. However, some people on the Standard American Diet can have ratios as high as 20:1 to 50:1!
Why is this bad?
Again it all comes back to human evolution. Throughout the four million years of human history, our diets were rich in seafood and other abundant sources of Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and low in Omega-6 fatty acids. Modern inflammatory diseases like heart disease and diabetes were virtually non-existent in hunter-gatherer societies.
After the industrial revolution, the intake of Omega-6 in the diet skyrocketed. Our average intake of Omega-6 is now 10-20 times what it was during our evolution.
The increase in Omega-6 consumption is associated with an increase in all inflammatory diseases – pretty much everything we would consider “diseases of civilization”, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, etc.
Basically, we are killing ourselves with the consumption of industrial seed oils.
What can we do to combat this?
The first step is to limit the consumption of these oils by eliminating processed foods from your diet. When cooking, use olive oil, avocado oil, butter, or ghee. Consume oily marine fish such a salmon and sardines to up your intake of Omega-3s.
This brings us to fish oil supplementation: In the real world, it is difficult to always avoid the high Omega-6 oils that are plaguing us. And even if you are eating a diet rich in foods containing Omega-3s, it is certainly possible that you are still not getting sufficient amounts of these crucial fatty acids that your body needs for optimal health (including creating an optimal ratio with Omega 6), so it will be important to supplement your diet.
I recommend supplementing daily with a fish oil capsule that contains 300mg of EPA, and 200mg of DHA. This will help promote a more optimal Omega-6: Omega 3 ratio.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body, and is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions. As the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, it’s essential for building strong bones, DNA and other genetic materials.
However, 80% of Americans may be deficient in magnesium, putting them at risk for cardiovascular disease, kidney and liver disease, osteoporosis, and muscle cramps and weakness.
Again, we can blame the Standard American Diet here. In moving away from ancestral diets, we have created a host of health problems.
Consuming more processed foods instead of magnesium-rich foods like spinach, broccoli, kale, and nuts has led to the epidemic levels of deficiency in the US.
Are you consuming the magnesium-rich foods mentioned above? Even if you are, I would still recommend supplementing with magnesium for optimal bioavailability.
I recommend taking 200mg of magnesium chelate on a daily basis.
In conclusion, I believe it is very appropriate to supplement the diet. As you can see, our modern diets have created deficiencies in many vital nutrients. We can begin to take back our health by improving our diets and ensuring bioavailability of these nutrients through supplementation.
Although supplementation needs will vary based on the individual, these three nutrients can help guide towards optimal health.
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Be Awesome. Be vital.