The vitamin aisle of a pharmacy can be overwhelming for many people. Also, many pharmaceutical companies have developed their own multivitamin formulas for men to help them stay healthy, adding to the confusion.
Men and women need different amounts of vitamins and minerals, depending on their age and overall health. Someone with osteoporosis, for example, may need more vitamin D and calcium to support their bones than someone without the disease.
In this article, we discuss multivitamin supplements for men and the differing nutritional needs people have at various times in their lives. Plus, we provide information about the potential risks of taking too many multivitamins.
A past study in the Journal of Nutrition suggested that 49% of people in the United States were taking multivitamin and mineral supplements. The researchers also found that multivitamin and mineral supplement use rose as people became older.
There are many reasons why people might choose to take multivitamin and mineral supplements, including:
- to replace nutrients they lack in their diet
- to reduce the risk of chronic diseases
- to improve their overall health
It is not usually necessary to take more than the daily recommended allowance of vitamins and minerals. Exceeding this limit for any nutrient can have health risks.
Manufacturers design and market specific multivitamin and mineral supplements to meet the health needs of males.
The following table lists several of these supplements. The vitamins and minerals that each product contains are shown in milligrams (mg), micrograms (mcg), and international units (IU).
|One A Day Men’s||One A Day Men’s Pro Edge||One A Day Men’s 50+ Healthy Advantage||Centrum Men||Centrum Silver Men 50+|
|Calcium||210 mg||200 mg||120 mg||210 mg||210 mg|
|Chromium||120 mcg||120 mcg||180 mcg||35 mcg||60 mcg|
|Magnesium||140 mg||200 mg||110 mg||100 mg||75 mg|
|Manganese||2 mg||2 mg||4.2 mg||2.3 mg||4 mg|
|Niacin||18 mg||25 mg||20 mg||16 mg||20 mg|
|Potassium||None||None||None||80 mg||80 mg|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2)||1.7 mg||3.4 mg||3.4 mg||1.3 mg||1.7 mg|
|Thiamine (Vitamin B-1)||1.35 mg||3 mg||4.5 mg||1.2 mg||1.5 mg|
|Vitamin A||3,500 IU||3,500 IU||2,800 IU||3,500 IU||1,050 mcg|
|Vitamin B-6||3 mg||4 mg||6 mg||2 mg||6 mg|
|Vitamin B-12||18 mcg||12 mcg||25 mcg||6 mcg||100 mcg|
|Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid)||60 mg||80 mg||120 mg||90 mg||120 mg|
|Vitamin D||700 IU||800 IU||700 IU||600 IU||25 mcg 1,000 IU|
|Vitamin K||20 mcg||20 mcg||20 mcg||60 mcg||60 mcg|
|Zinc||15 mg||15 mg||24 mg||11 mg||15 mg|
Below, we highlight the importance of specific vitamins and minerals for different groups of men.
- legumes and beans
- whole grains
- milk or dairy products
- lean meats, poultry, fish, or other healthy sources of protein
For young adults who lack nutrition in their diet, multivitamin and mineral supplements may be useful.
At least 1,000 mg of calcium each day is necessary to keep teeth and bones healthy in young males. Furthermore, the body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Doctors recommend that young men get at least 600 IU of vitamin D every day.
Iron is found in many foods, such as beans and potatoes. Most healthy diets contain enough iron, so it is rare for young men to need multivitamin and mineral supplements.
Osteoporosis is more common in women, but as males mature beyond 50 years of age, their risk may also begin to increase. Getting additional calcium and vitamin D can help to protect bones from osteoporosis.
After the age of 70, men should aim for 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D a day.
Most multivitamin and mineral supplements have low amounts of calcium. Consuming more diary or alternative milk products can help to increase calcium intake. Another option is to take calcium supplements.
Also, vitamin B-12 becomes more difficult to absorb from food as people age. Men of more than 50 years should get 2.4 mcg of vitamin B-12 every day. Most multivitamin and mineral supplements contain more than this amount.
Athletes burn more calories than a typical individual. They need to eat more to maintain their weight. It is unclear whether athletes also need more than the recommended daily allowance of vitamins or minerals.
Vitamin D plays an essential role in bone health, and studies have looked at its importance as a supplement for athletes. This research suggests several other health claims for the use of vitamin D supplements, including:
- aiding recovery from muscle damage after exercise
- improving heart function
- supporting the immune system
More high quality research is necessary before recommending that athletes take vitamin D supplements.
Many studies have investigated whether extra vitamins or minerals can improve brain health. Some have found that vitamin B-6 can improve performance on memory tests in older men.
But a 2018 review by the Cochrane Collaboration was unable to show significant evidence that vitamin B-6 or any other vitamin and mineral supplements improve brain function.
After 6 years, those regularly taking daily multivitamins had a greater risk of advanced prostate cancer and fatal prostate cancer.
But findings from trials of individual vitamin supplements are less clear.
Using the Physicians’ Health Study, researchers gave 14,641 male doctors regular supplements of vitamin E and C. They found vitamin supplements did not affect the risk of prostate or other cancers over 10 years.
The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial included more than 35,000 men from sites across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Researchers gave the participants supplements of selenium and vitamin E for 7–12 years.
The study results suggested that vitamin E supplements could increase the risk of prostate cancer.
With these mixed results, it remains unclear how vitamin and mineral supplements affect the risk of cancer.
People who smoke have lower levels of vitamin C available in their bodies than those who do not.
Males aged between 14–18 years old need at least 75 mg of vitamin C per day. Those who are over 19 years of age need 90 mg per day. However, men who smoke need an extra 35 mg per day on top of this.
Not getting enough vitamin C can lead to complications, such as scurvy.
Men following a vegetarian or vegan diet may lack vitamin B-12, which is mostly found in animal products.
Anyone over 14 years of age following a vegan or vegetarian diet should consider taking at least 2.4 mcg of vitamin B-12 a day. Another option is to consume more foods that contain vitamin B-12, such as fortified cereals or nutritional yeast.
Supplements are a further way to increase vitamin B-12 intake. Multivitamin and mineral supplements typically supply enough vitamin B-12.
Many multivitamin and mineral supplements are available for men. In most cases, a healthy diet is the best way to get enough nutrition to stay well.
It can be more difficult for some people to get enough nutrition from their diet alone, including those following vegetarian or vegan diets. Multivitamin and mineral supplements are a good way to improve nutrition in these cases.