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5 Nutrients That Improve Men’s Health

Posted 06-10-2013 at 01:21 PM by ChristaIB
Updated 10-17-2013 at 10:56 AM by ChristaIB

June is "Men's Health Month," so for this blog we are focusing on men's health and their nutritional requirements. Many men tend to lack adequate amounts of certain vitamins and nutrients. Men can use June to get a jump start on the road to good health by making sure they are getting enough of these five essential nutrients:

1. Magnesium
Magnesium is important for many reasons, but the most important reasons to include it in your diet (or vitamin supplements) are because it helps regulate nerve function and muscle tone. If you don't get enough magnesium, your nerve cells can get over-activated, triggering more muscle tension, spasms cramps and soreness. Magnesium also helps to protect bones and contributes to the production of hormones.

Foods that contain magnesium: blackberries, navy beans and halibut

2. Potassium
Your muscles benefit from potassium, which is needed to help them contract efficiently. Potassium also helps regulate your blood pressure and your heartbeat.

Foods that contain potassium: bananas, russet potatoes and avocados (An added bonus men can get from avocados -- they are thought to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells)

3. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is crucial for good health for many reasons. It can help reduce your homocysteine levels, which, in turn, helps reduce your risk for heart disease. Vitamin B12 is good for your brain -- it can help you stay mentally sharp -- and also helps you maintain mental and emotional stability.

(NOTE: Absorption of B vitamins can be blocked by certain medications, so speak with your physician to find out if any medications you are taking may do this.)

Foods that contain vitamin B12: fortified cereal, lamb and salmon

4. Vitamin D
Did you know that "vitamin D" is actually a hormone produced by your body (your skin, to be exact) when it is exposed to sunlight? This hormone that we refer to it as “vitamin D” helps build bone strength, and also has anti-inflammatory properties that can lower your risk for stroke and heart attack. The “D” hormone can also help normalize sleep patterns and aid in healing.

Where to find vitamin D: the sun is still the best source (just 20 minutes of sun exposure per day is said to be enough), but you can also find vitamin D in fortified milk and cereals, pork, salmon, tuna, flounder and eggs.

5. Iodine
Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones that work throughout your body to help regulate your metabolism and growth. Too little iodine leads to mental slowness and lethargy, and sometimes weight gain and depression.

Foods that contain iodine: Iodized salt and foods from the sea are your best sources of iodine, but eggs and yogurt are also good sources.

More Foods to Try

If you want to be even more diligent about improving your health (or the health of the man in your life), here are some additional foods to include in your daily menu for a greater health boost:

Tomatoes, carrots and red bell peppers – Did you know that tomatoes may help protect the prostate? Lycopene, which is found in red tomatoes and other red vegetables such as carrots and red bell peppers, is a carotenoid pigment and phytochemical that may protect you from certain cancers, particularly prostate cancer. If you consume a meal containing generous amounts of any of these red vegetables, lycopene is absorbed through the stomach and distributed (via the blood) as lipoproteins that accumulate in the adrenal glands and testes. These lipoproteins are thought to protect against cancers in these areas of your body. Though more studies are needed to determine specific benefits to the prostate, it wouldn’t hurt to try incorporating more red vegetables into your cooking

Oats – You’ve been hearing for years that the fiber in oat bran and oat cereals is good for protecting your blood vessels and your heart…but why? Oatmeal contains soluble fiber that can reduce the absorption of cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) in your bloodstream. Just 1 ½ cups of oatmeal or oat bran cereal per day can provide you with the 6-10 grams of soluble fiber you need to lower your LDL cholesterol levels. Add fruit and nuts to your breakfast oats, and you can increase your daily fiber by that much more. If you add walnuts to your oats, you're also getting some heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Seafood – In addition to iodine, some seafood can provide you with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish every week, particularly salmon, halibut, albacore tuna and lake trout. You can also find omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements, but that isn't nearly as fun as firing up the grill and adding some delicious seafood to your summer grilling menu!

Here’s to your health!

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