This article is written by Fitday expert panel member, Dr. Umashri Rao Francis (M.B.B.S)
In a clinical practice spanning over 26 years, I have come across many patients who come with complaints which are signs and symptoms of nutritional deficiencies. Of these, 90% of the times they are female and only 10% male.
Females are most susceptible to developing these deficiencies due to the various events that they undergo during their reproductive age; pregnancy, lactation, and menopause. In males most of the time these deficiencies may develop due to lifestyle factors or medical conditions. Just like it is for women, men have different nutritional requirements that change with age.
Today because of the increased health awareness, men have gotten more conscious about their nutritional requirements. Their general wellness will improve their quality of life and give them more energy to endure and survive in this competitive environment. In a general everyday routine, men may feel tired and overwhelmed each day, especially with the prevailing busy schedules. A hectic and erratic lifestyle may cause lethargy, low energy levels, sleeping disorders, impotency, infertility, depression, and other conditions.
Consuming a nutrition deficient diet can be a contributing factor to conditions such as lethargy, fatigue and/or low energy. This may be seen in young men who exercise a lot, or in older men due to a decrease in testosterone levels. Medical conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders, heart diseases can also cause symptoms of low energy. Nutritional needs differ with gender and age, and as a man your healthy diet need to meet your physical requirements and fit your lifestyle while also reducing the risk of diseases.
As mentioned, men at different ages may have different complaints as the nutritional requirements also differ. Young men in their 20’s may complain of low energy, especially after a workout or the inability to work out due to weakness. In their pursuit of today’s trends of a 6-pack they may complain of less muscle mass and muscle strength. Hair loss too is a rising concern in this age group.
In their 30’s they may complain of impotency, infertility, easy tiredness, low muscle mass and muscle strength, depression, sleep disorder, and hair loss. While in their 40’s and thereafter, men may have all the complaints as in young men, added to which they develop diabetes, neurological problems, arthritis, and depression. This is when, after ruling out any medical condition like diabetes or thyroid disorder they may be advised to take nutritional supplements.
Testosterone, generally referred to as the male hormone, is a hormone produced in men by the testicles. It affects a man’s appearance, sexual development, sperm production as well as a man’s sex drive. It also plays an active role in building muscle and bone mass.
Physiologically after the age of 60 the levels of testosterone may start reducing, but some men may experience this drop at a younger age. This may occur due to medical conditions like diabetes, liver diseases or lung diseases. In the absence of any medical conditions eating healthy and increasing exercise are the best way to treat low testosterone levels. Symptoms of low testosterone levels are hair loss, low semen volume, impotency, infertility, loss of muscle and bone mass, increased body fat, affected memory, unexplained fatigue, or a low blood count.
Studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency may be tied to impotency, infertility, low testosterone levels, low muscle and bone mass and vitamin B12 deficiency to poor semen quality.
Men’s nutritional needs
Men from 19 to 50 years of age generally need more energy than older men. They need to eat in moderation and a balanced diet among five food groups.
If you feel the need to change your appearance or build a muscular body, don’t ever overdo it, but eat an appropriate protein rich diet, which as a rule of thumb can be measured as 0.84 grams per kg of your body weight. Not more than that, as excess protein intake more than your requirements can lead to kidney overload and related health issues.
From 50 to 70 years of age, the nutritional needs change. You need lean meat, eggs, tofu, nuts, and seeds but keep a check on yourself when you eat junk food. After 70, you need fewer cereals, more dairy food and a calcium rich diet.
Important Vitamins and Minerals for men
For young men, with a balanced diet, Proteins in form of whey, isolates and protein rich bars are good, and they can also supplement their diet with multivitamins, fish oil and probiotics. It is vital to check on your Vitamin D levels and if found to be low, they should consult their physician for supplements under medical advice.
Supplements needed by men in general are:
Vitamin D - This vitamin is a powerhouse required to maintain testosterone levels along with muscle and bone mass. It is present in plenty in ultraviolet B rays of the sun, and are found in natural resources like oily fish, meat, eggs, cheese and other dairy products.
Vitamin B12 - It is required for good and healthy sperm count, nerve health, and blood count. It is present in meat, eggs, fish, cheese, yogurt and milk.
Potassium - This mineral is required to efficiently convert your glucose into energy and helps control high blood pressure. Potatoes, bananas, chia seeds, and coconut water are rich sources.
Iodine - Thyroid glands require iodine to produce thyroid hormones like T3 and T4. Iodine is present in eggs, milk, yogurt and in iodized salts.
Magnesium - This mineral is involved in the running of 300 vital processes in the body. Low levels of magnesium can cause heart disease.
Alpha lipoid acid and omega 3 fatty acids are good for regulating blood sugars, for brain health, the joints and the heart.
Ginkgo biloba is an antioxidant and helps in removing free radicals from the blood.
If the levels of vitamins and minerals are very much below the normal range, you may need to consult your physician to get therapeutic doses of the required vitamin or mineral.
A short note on Male menopause
The onset of male menopause is seen in men in their 60’s, when the levels of testosterone start falling. Male menopause differs from female menopause as the male hormone, testosterone does not go to a zero level as is the case with females during menopause where the female hormone, estrogen levels may complete go down.
The best ways to maintain the testosterone levels are a healthy diet, exercise, good sleep and reduced stress. Testosterone boosting foods like Tuna, egg yolks, vitamin D, fortified cereals, oysters, shellfish, beef, lentils and beans needs to be taken.
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About Dr. Umashri Rao Francis:
Dr. Francis has been practicing Medicine for over 26 years. She is an experienced physician successfully treating a vast majority of the local population, in particular the poorly diagnosed and difficult cases. Dr. Francis is a regular contributor to the #FitBlog and is available to answer your article related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org