Physician-Recommended Supplements for Men
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Q: What are the top three supplements you recommend to all your patients?
A: Most diets in the U.S. are deficient in at least some vitamins and nutrients. I like to supplement with Cooper Complete Basic One multivitamin. Also, because so many of us spend a majority of our day indoors with little exposure to sun, I recommend taking a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D occurs in response to sun exposure and very little is obtained from the foods we eat. Additionally, the darker the skin, the less vitamin D conversion. However, the lighter the skin, the higher the risk for skin cancer. The benefits of vitamin D have been touted for several years. Most recently it has been shown to mitigate COVID-19 outcomes. I take at least an additional 2,000 IU daily. Omega-3 fatty acids may also be lacking in the Western diet. Food sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty types of fish such as salmon, trout, sardines or mackerel. While I like salmon, I also take a little extra omega-3 in softgel form.
Q: What supplements do you recommend specifically to your male patients?
A: In addition to the above, many people seem to have problems sleeping. Shutting down after a long day at work is hard for some to do. I’ve made nightly meditation a part of my routine to help with this, but a melatonin supplement is safe and can be an effective adjunct. Additionally, we need more fiber in the Western diet for which I recommend daily supplements such as psyllium.
Q: What is the purpose/benefit of each of these recommended supplements?
A: Micronutrients and vitamins are required for the body to undergo normal enzymatic and other functional processes. One of my few “ah-ha!” moments in medical school was when I realized most of the bad stuff—from heart disease and stroke to cancer—had to do with the oxidative reaction. Research shows antioxidants may help protect your body from this process, so I’ve made sure to eat my fruits and vegetables and supplement as needed ever since. Fiber lowers cholesterol and blood sugar and decreases the incidence of colon polyps and colon and possibly prostate cancer.
Q: What are common health concerns most men face that lead you to recommend these supplements?
A: Atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and cancer.
Q: Are there any myths about which vitamins men should take that are false?
A: Testosterone! Television is telling men that if they’re over 40 and don’t feel like they’re 20, it has to be because they aren’t producing enough testosterone. That simply is not true! A large study performed at The Cooper Institute as well as a large European study, among others, show the decline in testosterone level with age is minimal and generally not clinically significant. Inappropriate testosterone supplementation is associated with several potentially life-threatening conditions such as stroke and heart attack.
Q: Do men need to take iron as they age?
A: Men and post-menopausal women do not require iron supplementation. If their level is found to be low, a source of blood loss must be identified. Iron levels that are too high can damage several organs and joints.
Q: What other tips to stay healthy do you give your male patients?
A: Exercise aerobically for 30 or more minutes most days of the week. This should be done at an intensity such they maintain their heart rate into their aerobic range. This is generally determined by the symptom-limited Balke protocol stress test, a component of our Cooper Clinic comprehensive physical exam. Additionally, I recommend core and strength training three days weekly. Nutritional recommendations are made during our patients’ consultations with a registered dietitian nutritionist at the time of their physical examination and are designed to meet an individual’s specific needs. For good sleep and stress management I recommend nightly meditation. Numerous apps are also available which provide excellent guided meditations.
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