Once relegated to plain, brown, funky-smelling bottles in health food stores, today vitamins pop up in everything from flavored water, to sunscreen, to shampoo. You know vitamins are important for your health. But what exactly are they? What do they really do? When it comes to vitamins, is more always better? Or is that just something companies want to you believe so they can sell more products?
To start with, vitamins are tiny organic compounds that perform highly-specialized functions in your body. These functions are essential to your body’s health. Your body only requires small amounts of each vitamin to survive and thrive.
While vitamin supplements are big business in the U.S., the truth is that deficiencies are rare, and more people suffer from overdose due to supplements than from deficiency-related illnesses. Most men who follow a balanced diet high in lean proteins; colorful fruits and veggies; nuts and seeds; vegetable and fish oils; whole grains; and low-fat dairy products will not need supplements unless they have malabsorption problems or other serious digestive disorders.
Here’s a rundown of what each vitamin does, what foods contain it, and how much of it men ideally need. If you find that the natural sources of these vitamins are lacking in your diet, then you should consider a natural-based supplement or multi-vitamin-enriched formula specialized for men.
Vitamin A - this antioxidant protects your cells from damaging free radicals. It also supports immune system and helps maintain your skin and the lining of your mucous membranes and intestines.
How much you need daily: 900 micrograms
Where to find it: Liver, egg yolks, butter, cream, fortified milk, leafy green vegetables and orange-yellow fruits and vegetables.
B Vitamins are required for the metabolism of food into energy, as well as for maintaining nerve and heart function. B vitamins also provide energy without the harmful effects of caffeine and sugar.
How much you need daily:
Biotin: 30 micrograms
Folate: 400 micrograms
Niacin: 35 mg
Pantothenic acid: 5 milligrams
Riboflavin: 1.3 milligrams
B6: 1.3 milligrams
B12: 2.4 micrograms
Where to find them: Dried yeast, liver, meats, leafy greens (for folate), whole grain or enriched cereals and breads and legumes
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant. It helps form, grow and maintain bone, skin, and connective tissue, and heal wounds and burns. It also helps support immune function.
How much you need daily: 90 milligrams
Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries and bell peppers
Vitamin D is essential for building, growing and repairing your bones. It also supports your immune system.
How much you need daily: 200 IU
Where to find it: Vitamin D is synthesized by your skin from sunlight. It can also be found in fortified dairy products, egg yolk and fatty fish.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells from the effects of aging, stress and environmental factors. It plays a major role in gene health, smooth muscle growth and blood cholesterol levels.
How much you need daily: 1,000 milligrams
Where to find it: Fatty fish, nuts and nut oils, wheat germ, sunflower and safflower oils, avocados, broccoli, mangos, asparagus and papaya
Vitamin K is necessary for normal blood clotting as well as vital metabolic functions.
How much you need daily: 120 micrograms
Where to find it: Green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, kiwi and grapes.