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Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Men

Experts weigh in on whether men should take vitamin and mineral supplements.

Multiple Choice continued...

"How do you replicate [a strawberry] in a supplement?" Sesso says. " You have to put it all together in order for it to be reflective, but that is difficult. To take something and replicate it perfectly – that is the challenge.”

Multivitamins, he says, might prove to be one way to gain the advantages of some of the complex interactions found in food sources.

"They potentially reflect food-based sources," Sesso says. "They have the potential to offset deficiencies [found in individual supplements]. It's a very enticing concept and it makes sense.”

Sesso estimates that his team will have "some definite results" within the next few years.

Grotto isn't waiting. He already recommends a daily multivitamin to the majority of his clients. But not without caveats.

"People need to recalibrate their expectations of what a multi can do," Grotto says. "They are supplements, not replacements. The dietetic mantra remains ‘get your nutrition from food.'"

That said, Grotto advises his male clients to pick a multivitamin that's specially formulated for men. That means one with little or no iron. Shao agrees.

"Most men get enough iron," Shao says. "The body… doesn't have a good way of getting rid of excess iron.”

In addition to a multivitamin, men should consider supplementing their vitamin D and calcium intake to keep their bones strong.

"It's a misperception that osteoporosis is a women's issue," Shao says. "You want to pay close attention to calcium, especially if you are avoiding calcium.”

Grotto finds that most adults and children in his practice come up short when it comes to vitamin D. "When it comes to recommendations, multivitamins and additional vitamin D are a recurring theme," he says.

But remember: Each man's needs are his own, so you should consult a doctor or dietician to determine what's best for you.

"Maintain an ongoing dialogue with your health care provider, focusing on using supplements and any conditions you might be concerned with," Shao says.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Whatever benefits supplements may prove to impart, you still need to be careful about just how much you take. More does not mean better. In fact, taking too much of some vitamins can cause serious problems. An excess of vitamin A, for example, can damage your liver. Although this is rarely a problem from food, supplements make excess amounts easier to consume.

"For vitamin A, toxicity is very well established at high levels," Shao says. "For most nutrients, there is a very wide range between what can be found in high-potency supplements and toxicity… Nutrients are native and essential to the body, and most have subtle or no side effects even up to extremely high levels. With Vitamin A, there's not as much of a safety range.”

To be on the safe side, Grotto says, "I steer people away from high-potency vitamins.”

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