Most men associate supplements with improved health. But nutritional supplements are just that - a means to supplement your diet. They will not have a material impact on your health and fitness unless there are known deficiencies or your diet does not meet your needs. So, before adding a number of supplements to your regime, consider eating a balanced and varied diet first, and then consider where supplements might help. When deciding what to take, what your goals are, or what you want to achieve, keep in mind. Here we outline the best nutritional supplements for men that work to improve their overall health and fitness.
Before we begin, be aware that most businesses are high demanding that are not backed by science or research. And therein lies the real danger to the supplement industry: it is not strictly regulated by the FDA, and there are many dangerous supplements that can be detrimental to your health instead of actually helping you.
I categorize dietary supplements into two main categories: basic and ergogenic dietary supplements. Basic dietary supplements (like those on this list) can be beneficial from a maintenance and preventative health perspective. Ergogenic dietary supplements are substances or dietary supplements that improve energy production, use or recovery and can give athletes or active people a claimed competitive advantage.
When evaluating the best supplements for men who exercise, consider four main criteria: mode of action, available research, side effects, and legality. I also suggest looking for supplements that are independently verified and tested for quality and accuracy of ingredients like NSF certification and Informed Choice.
New scientific knowledge and technologies are making tailored and individualized health care more available and affordable for most. Blind supplementation is a thing of the past at companies like Rootine and Sun Genomics. Rootine optimizes your daily performance with precise nutrition. It's more than a standard multivitamin. It is a comprehensive system to help you achieve your best health. It contains the first precisely engineered micronutrient formula based on your individual lifestyle and health data (DNA and blood levels). The company offers a unique formulation tailored to you and your needs. This allows you to nourish your cells to create a more efficient, focused, and powerful version of yourself. Your microbiome is also unique and has a huge impact on your overall health. Sun Genomics uses DNA sequencing in your gut microbiome to customize a unique probiotic based on your goals and symptoms. The custom formulation can aid with digestion, increase energy, and reduce bloating while ultimately helping you perform at your best.
Below we've highlighted the top supplements for men exercising, why they're good for you, and how much to take. Talk to your doctor before adding anything to your daily diet.
Jordan Mazur, MS, RD, is the director of nutrition and team dietitians for the San Francisco 49ers
10 best supplements for men who exercise
1. Vitamin D.
Why it's good for you: Vitamin D is a key factor in a number of functions in the human body. More studies need to be done, but recent research suggests that vitamin D supplementation could increase testosterone levels in men with low amounts. It has also been suggested to support heart and bone health, which is especially important for older men. Vitamin D can also be synthesized through the skin through exposure to sunlight. So exposure to sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes a day can help synthesize vitamin D. However, this is often limited depending on where you live geographically and seasonally.
How much to take: The recommended daily dose for men 19 to 50 years of age is 600 IU / day in the D3 form. However, recent research suggests that higher amounts (1500 to 2000 IU / day) may be more appropriate, but will largely depend on your current vitamin D status. Ask your doctor to get accurate vitamin D levels from your blood and base your supplementation on them.
Best brand to try out: Klean athlete Klean-D 1000Courtesy Image
Why it's good for you: Magnesium is a mineral that is vital to general well-being and has a number of functions in the human body, including nerve function, blood sugar control, protein synthesis, regulation of the circadian rhythm, and much more. Magnesium helps your body absorb certain nutrients like calcium and is believed to have a calming effect on the body. According to the USDA, approximately half of the US adult population may have insufficient magnesium intake to support diet adequacy.
How much to take: The recommended daily dose for men between 19 and 30 years of age is 400 mg per day and for men between 31 and 50 years of age it is 420 mg per day
Best brand to try out: Thorne MagnesiumCourtesy Image
3. Omega-3 fish oil (EPA / DHA)
Why it's good for you: Omega-3 fatty acids are a classification of polyunsaturated fatty acids. There are three main types within this family that are important: DHA, EPA, and ALA. EPA and DHA are important in your diet because your body can synthesize them. The main source of food is fish. However, if you don't eat fish two to three times a week, a supplement can help here. Fish oils are known to have a number of researched benefits, including improving heart health by improving risk factors for heart disease such as high cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and blood pressure. They can help fight long-term inflammation and promote proper inflammatory responses and recovery. They can also support joint health by improving range of motion and reducing morning stiffness.
How much to take: 1,000 to 3,000 mg of combined omega-3 EPA / DHA daily
Best brand to try out: rdic Naturals Ultimate Omega 2XCourtesy Image
Why it's good for you: In the simplest sense, probiotics are living microorganisms that are said to have positive effects on health when consumed. In total, there are billions of living bacteria in the human body that make up what is known as the microbiome. There are good and bad bacteria in the human body that have a number of functions and effects on our health. The microbiome is constantly changing and is unique to each individual due to environmental interactions, drug use, autoimmune diseases, and many other factors. With such health effects, it is important to consume them regularly to preserve your microbiome.
How much to take: Depends on the product, but consumes probiotics on a daily basis
Best brand to try out: Flore by Sungenomics are fully tailored probiotics based on a complete intestinal flora test, tailored to your needs and shipped directly to you.Courtesy Image
Why it's good for you: Curcumin is the most potent, naturally occurring, anti-inflammatory ingredient in turmeric. Short-term inflammation increases in your body as a healing measure, but chronic inflammation can disrupt healthy cellular processes. This can help combat the latter.
How much to take: 1,500 mg to 2,000 mg curcumin with 15-20 mg piperine per day. Or try Meriva, a patented and highly absorbed form of curcumin. Take 400 to 1,000 mg a day.
Best brand to try out: Thorne Meriva-SFCourtesy Image
Why it's good for you: Electrolytes are simply a group of minerals in the human body that have an electrical charge. They have many functions in maintaining homeostasis. Two of them regulate fluid balance and muscle contractions, which makes them some of the best supplements for men who exercise. Our kidneys do most of the work to maintain fluid balance. If you eat healthy, electrolyte supplements may not be needed. However, everyone's sweat concentration is different (you lose a lot of electrolyte here). When this happens, some men may need an electrolyte boost, especially if you're a heavy, salty sweater, or do a lot of work in hot, humid climates. Sodium is the main electrolyte that is lost, followed by chloride and, in part, potassium and magnesium. Knowing your personal sweat rate is important to know if an electrolyte supplement is right for you.
How much to take: It depends, but make sure your electrolyte supplement contains sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium. However, watch out for electrolyte overdoses, especially calcium and sodium. You can find the RDA and Tolerable Upper Intake (UL) levels for each mineral in the NIH database to ensure your intake is within the recommended ranges.
Best brands to try out: LMNT Elemental Labs Electrolyte Mixture and Fluid IVCourtesy Image
Why it's good for you: Zinc is an essential mineral. In men, when zinc levels are low, testosterone and insulin sensitivity can decrease. Zinc can also play a role in shortening the duration of the common cold. It is lost through sweat, so it is important to get adequate absorption.
How much to take: There are two standard dosages, but the low dose of 5 to 10 mg per day works well preventatively.
Best brand to try out: Pure encapsulation zinc 15Courtesy Image
Why it's good for you: Fiber is essential for a healthy diet and regularity. Fiber is found in the foods we eat - fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. But let's face it, not everyone is okay with getting these foods on a regular basis. There are two main types of fiber, soluble and insoluble fiber. Both are needed to normalize bowel movements, lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, and achieve a healthy weight. If you are missing high fiber foods in your daily diet, consider taking a fiber supplement in capsule or powder form.
How much to take: Adult men under 50 years of age should consume 38 grams per day and men over 50 years of age should consume 30 grams, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Best brand to try out: Thorne FibreMend or Metamucil 3-in-1 fiber additiveCourtesy Image
Why it's good for you: Creatine is a molecule found in the human body that can be made from amino acids. It stores high energy phosphate groups that are used to convert to ATP or energy. Creatine is possibly one of the best-studied supplements on this list with the highest potency for improving strength and power output in weight training. There is some minor evidence that this can help with anaerobic running capacity as well. Many of the concerns raised that creatine is unsafe are unfounded and unsupported by research. Creatine is considered very safe to consume, and creatine monohydrate appears to be the most cost-effective form for men compared to other forms of creatine. If you are exercising, this is one of the best supplements for men who exercise.
How much to take: 5 grams per day during the training phases
Best brand to try out: Klean athlete creatineCourtesy Image
10. Protein powder (whey or vegetable)
Why it's good for you: Protein is one of the most popular nutritional supplements, and there are hundreds of brands out there. Protein powders, whether whey, casein, pea protein, or more, are a great and convenient way to get the amino acids needed throughout the day or as a meal replacement. While not necessary, they are a great meal option to make sure you get your protein needs throughout the day, especially during your workout.
How much to take: 20 to 40 grams after a workout or all day
Best brand to try out: Gainful tailors a blend to suit your individual goals and preferences, and matches you with a blend of whey, plants, or keto protein powder.
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