“Did you know the first French fries weren't actually cooked in France? They were cooked in Greece.” To keep those dad jokes coming in sizzling hot, it’s important to eat well and take care of your body.
Vitamins are essential for your overall health and are required for proper bodily functions and not getting enough can result in chronic disease, low energy, low libido (and trouble performing), and poor mood.
In an ideal world, you would get all of the vitamins and minerals you need from a healthy diet. But considering the current state of food processing and convenience (I’m looking at you Netflix chip snacker and 7-Eleven top customer) this isn’t always possible.
Healthy dads: 10 most important supplements for men
To invest in a disease-free, optimal quality of life, it’s extremely important to prioritize a diet rich in whole foods, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes while limiting those processed, sugary foods whenever possible.
Preventing vitamin and mineral deficiencies by focusing on these nutrients can up your gains at the gym, boost your energy levels, improve your sleep quality, get you ready to get it on, and protect against deathly male specific diseases.
Ever wonder why oysters are considered an aphrodisiac? They’re an excellent source of zinc which is one of the most important nutrients for sexual function. In fact, zinc deficiency is linked to reduced sexual drive . Zinc is involved in almost every aspect of male reproduction, including hormone metabolism, sperm formation, and testosterone levels.
Dietary sources: whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes
Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with better blood flow, a healthy heart, a sharp mind, and more stable mood. Omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause more inflammation, are plentiful in the western diet. These two fatty acids need to be in balance, in order to keep inflammation at bay. The ideal ratio is omega-6 to omega-3 is about 2:1 to 4:1 . One easy way to do this is by taking a good quality supplement.
Dietary sources: fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseeds
Vitamin B12 is crucial for making new cells so a deficiency can lead to reduced sperm count and lowered sperm motility . Vitamin B12 also supports healthy metabolism and energy creation. If you take certain drugs such as blood pressure or diabetes medications, they may interfere with the absorption of B12. If you follow a strict vegan diet, you’re at risk of B12 deficiency because it’s only naturally found in animal foods.
Dietary sources: eggs, dairy, meat, poultry, fortified nutritional yeast
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common in both men and women, particularly if you live in the northern hemisphere or spend a lot of time indoors. Vitamin D is necessary for bone health, brain health, heart health, and mood. Vitamin D is also needed to produce testosterone. During the cold, dark months of the year, if you can’t get outside often, or if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you may want to consider a vitamin D3 supplement.
Dietary sources: eggs, dairy, mushrooms, sunlight exposure
Magnesium is an essential electrolyte involved in over 300 different processes in your body. It helps balance blood pressure by interacting with calcium, potassium, and sodium levels. A vast majority of Americans are deficient in magnesium. With a magnesium deficiency, you may be more prone to muscle cramps and difficulty sleeping. As you get older, your digestive tract won’t absorb it as well, putting you at greater risk. This is why a good quality supplement may be beneficial.
Dietary sources: leafy greens, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate
Vitamin C helps fight free radical damage, which can prevent some age related diseases and helps protect against DNA damage. One study found that reducing dietary vitamin C from 250mg to 5mg per day, caused 91% increased damage to DNA (semen) . Smoking cigarettes greatly reduces vitamin C levels so if you smoke, make sure to boost your vitamin C levels.
Dietary sources: broccoli, citrus fruit (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit), bell peppers, strawberries
Selenium is a powerful cancer preventer. In fact, adequate amounts of selenium is correlated with a decreased risk of prostate, colon, and lung cancer . Selenium also plays an important role in keeping your immune system healthy. It regulates thyroid function and can boost fertility by increasing blood flow and promoting sperm motility.
Dietary sources: brazil nuts, shrimp and seafood, eggs, legumes
This phytonutrient provides powerful antioxidant properties. Lycopene, which gives the red color to produce, is known for its consistent ability to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Five studies showed a 30% to 40% reduction in risk associated with high lycopene consumption from tomatoes . When raw tomatoes are heated, such as with tomato sauce, the lycopene becomes easier to absorb .
Dietary sources: tomatoes, tomato sauce, watermelon, grapefruit
Creatine is an amino acid that has gained popularity in the fitness community, being related to enhanced muscle mass and providing a boost of strength. Although it hasn’t been studied in the long-term, evidence proves that creatine is safe for the short term, such as with high-intensity resistance training . Creatine may also better brain health. It’s naturally produced in the body in the form of phosphocreatine. Supplementation has been associated with improved cognition in elderly .
Dietary sources: fish, salmon, poultry, eggs
Coenzyme Q10 is a molecule that’s naturally produced in your body and used to help make energy from mitochondria . Your body produces CoQ10 naturally, but its production tends to decrease with age. Low levels are associated with neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease, and even male infertility .
Dietary sources: organ meats (heart, liver, kidney), pork, beef, chicken, fatty fish
Other important nutrients
Here are some more of the most important vitamins and minerals for men to make sure to get enough of:
- Vitamin E: a crucial antioxidant that protects against damage to sperm. It also may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
- Olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocado.
- Vitamin K: important for building and maintaining strong bones and preventing heart disease.
- Green leafy vegetables, fish, eggs.
- Potassium: low potassium increases the risk for high blood pressure. Deficiency can occur as a result of some medications, excessive exercise, alcoholism or even extreme diets such as the ketogenic diet.
- Avocado, sweet potato, banana.
- Vitamin A: a fat soluble vitamin that is essential, meaning your body can’t produce it on its own. As an antioxidant, it helps prevent cancer, improve eyesight, and prevent heart disease.
- Milk, eggs, liver, fish oil.
Bonus: fitness for a better sex life
A manly lifestyle includes a balance of nutrition and physical activity. To keep your stamina strong, sweat! Exercise not only boosts cardiovascular fitness, it increases your sex drive - the interest and ability to participate in sex. One study examined the impact of exercise on sexuality in 78 sedentary but healthy men who exercised an average of an hour a day for three to four times a week. Compared to a control group, the had a higher frequency of sexual activity, more physical function during sex, and greater percentage of satisfying orgasms. The higher the degree of fitness, the better the sexuality. 
Give a damn, man
Real men care about their health. Take time to assess your current lifestyle. Are you eating a balanced, wholesome diet full of healthy protein (organic meat, poultry, eggs, legumes), fats (fish, nuts, seeds, plant oils) and carbs (whole grain bread, brown rice, quinoa, millet)? Are you trying your best to stay active? What about going to the doctor and assessing risk factors for nutrient deficiency -- being older, eliminating food groups (vegan, vegetarian, or food allergies), not eating enough, taking medication? You’re the only one truly responsible for your own wellbeing and optimal health.
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” - Ernest Hemingway