Im going to outline the 5 most important micronutrients for men because if you neglect these, you run the risk of not only poor physical health, but poor mental health. Additionally we will look at how you can increase them naturally if you need to.
One of the jobs I had prior to policing was in a chronic care facility for people who suffer from mental illness. The diagnoses ranged from severe bipolar disorder to schizophrenia and the full spectrum that exists under the broad umbrella of mental health.
We would monitor their health very closely on a daily basis paying particular attention to nutrition within the confines of very limited government funding. Which is to say the residents weren’t eating ribeye steaks with grilled asparagus…far from it as I am sure you can imagine.
In fact it was more often stew and big pots of spaghetti than it was something I might consider appetizing…
It is said “a healthy body is made 30% in the gym and 70% in the kitchen”. Or 20% in the squat rack and 80% in the oven…or 90% in the…ok you get my point.
Im using these numbers to simply illustrate a point.
While this usually refers to weight loss and muscle-building, the truth is that it applies to all areas of health. The food you eat can have HUGE ramifications for your overall wellness.
When talking about eating healthy, most guys discuss “balancing macros”. They’re talking about macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fats and doing so in a manner that supports their health goals or program.
However, you can’t neglect the “micros”. Micronutrients like Vitamin A or C, iron, zinc, and other minerals and vitamins.
Micronutrients are vital for your health, as they play a role in literally ALL your biological and internal functions.
They are needed to produce hormones, to keep your immune system functioning, produce neurochemicals, send messages between your brain, transport oxygen and energy, and so much more.
They play a role in everything from weight loss to mental health to a faster metabolism to a healthier hormonal balance.
There are five micronutrients that most men need A LOT of. Below, we’ll talk about these five important nutrients, what they do, and, most importantly, where you can get more of them in your diet…
Potassium is one of the most important nutrients for healthy muscle function. Its primary purpose is to balance out the amount of sodium in your body, encouraging a healthy water balance. Your muscles require potassium in order to contract. Basically, if you don’t get enough potassium in your diet, your muscles won’t work properly.
There are many other uses for potassium in your body, such as reducing your blood pressure, preventing heart and kidney disorders, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, enhancing muscular strength, ensuring proper hydration, keeping your metabolism working properly, managing stress and anxiety, and so much more. It’s definitely one a micronutrient you can’t live without!
There are some pretty serious side effects of a potassium deficiency:
- Muscle weakness
- Inactive reflexes
- Heart palpitations
- Abnormal heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Glandular swelling
Pretty scary stuff, right? As you can see, potassium is one of the most important minerals for your body.
Thankfully, it’s the third most abundant mineral in the body. For a person following a low-sodium diet, there’s a very low risk of a potassium deficiency. Still, it can’t hurt to add more potassium-rich foods to your diet. These include:
- Citrus fruits
- Whole grains
- Whole milk
- Coconut water
All of these natural sources of potassium are AMAZING foods to eat, as they provide a wide range of other useful micronutrients, along with carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. Definitely the foods you want to add to your diet!
We all know how important calcium is. After all, it’s the mineral that keeps our bones growing strong. Our bones are what hold our body up, so it only makes sense that we need to keep them healthy.
But calcium does so much more than just nourish our bones. It’s also needed for your nervous system. Calcium helps to transmit messages between the brain and the rest of the body. It plays a role in keeping your nervous system working properly and delivering those electrical signals that your brain uses to control your movement, organ function, thoughts, and everything else.
Calcium also helps your blood vessels to move blood through your body. The mineral plays a role in healthy circulation, which in turn ensures your body received the oxygen, nutrients, and energy it needs (delivered via your bloodstream).
Finally, calcium is needed for the production and release of enzymes and hormones, which can affect literally EVERY part of the body!
The average adult needs between 1,000 and 1,200 mg of calcium daily. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, you are at risk of a number of side effects:
- Decreased bone density
- Low bone mass
- Bone fractures
- Numbness and tingling in your fingers
- Arrhythmias, which can be fatal
Definitely not a nutrient to take lightly!
Getting more calcium in your diet means eating calcium-rich foods like dairy products (milk, yoghurt, and cheese), dark leafy greens (kale and broccoli), whole grains (breads, pastas, and fortified cereals), soy and rice beverages, soft-boned fish (salmon and sardines), and calcium-enriched food products.
The good news is that getting more calcium in your diet can have very visible benefits. According to the National Institutes of Health:
- Calcium can prevent osteoporosis and bone loss. Combining high calcium intake with regular exercise is often enough to combat the calcium loss common with age.
- Calcium may reduce cardiovascular risk. This mineral can help to reduce the risk of your developing high blood pressure and hypertension.
- Calcium can aid in weight loss. Calcium is a fat-soluble mineral that can use up more dietary and stored fat, leading to fat burning (also known as healthy weight loss).
While calcium’s primary purpose is to keep your bones and teeth healthy, it plays a role in the majority of internal body functions. It’s definitely a good idea to get more calcium in your diet!
Selenium is one of the least common micronutrients in your food, but it’s actually one of the most important! It plays a surprising number of roles:
- Protecting you from oxidative stress. Selenium is a potent antioxidant that will protect your body from damage by free radicals. It works with Vitamin E to coat your internal organs, skin, and bloodstream with a protective layer that can protect from mutative oxidative damage.
- Enhances immunity. Selenium is vital for a healthy immune system. It can help to counteract viruses, including the HIV virus. HIV patients can use selenium to slow the disease’s progression.
- Regulate your thyroid. Selenium can help to prevent thyroid gland problems, and it will keep the important little gland producing enough thyroid hormones. The mineral protects your thyroid gland from disease and regulates the production of the thyroid’s reactive oxygen.
- Defends against cancer. Selenium has anti-cancer abilities, thanks to the fact that it attaches with glutathione and works to repair damage done to DNA. It can prevent cancer cells from forming by maximizing the effectiveness of antioxidants in the body. It may even be able to slow the growth of existing cancer/tumor cells!
- Improves cardiovascular function. Selenium can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, improve circulation, reduce cholesterol, and prevent coronary heart disease. It fights inflammation in your cardiovascular system and increase antioxidant activity in your heart and bloodstream.
- Increase fertility. Selenium plays a role in improving circulation, particularly to the sex organs. It can increase sperm motility, improve the behavior of the sperm, and can prevent high blood pressure from causing erectile dysfunction.
As you can see, selenium is a VERY important micronutrient. The problem is that there aren’t all that many foods that deliver a lot of selenium. To get enough of this antioxidant mineral, you’ll need to eat a lot of Brazil nuts, eggs, tuna, liver, sunflower seeds, chicken breast, turkey, mushrooms, chia seeds, and salmon.
Zinc is one of those “jack of all trades” minerals that play a role in dozens of body functions. Getting enough zinc in your diet can do a lot of good for you:
- Increase immunity. Zinc is one of the best anti-cold remedies, thanks to its ability to fight viral infections, boost immune function, and protect your body from the spread of infection. Zinc stops the growth of mucus and bacteria in your nasal passages, and it can kill off the viruses causing the infection. It’s even able to reduce the symptoms of the cold or flu, helping you to recover more quickly.
- Balance hormones. Zinc is one of the most important minerals for healthy hormone production. It is needed for the production of testosterone as well as estrogen. Insufficient zinc levels can lead to mood swings and fertility problems, but getting enough zinc in your diet is a good way to ensure your body has all the minerals it needs to produce hormones. Zinc can help to increase serum testosterone, which will raise fertility and libido.
- Aids in heart health. Zinc keeps your cardiovascular system healthy by reducing oxidative stress and preventing inflammation. It also plays a role in cellular health, as it’s needed to keep the endothelial lining strong. You’ll find that it aids in circulation and reduces your risk of high blood pressure.
- Antioxidant. The antioxidant properties of zinc make it useful for a wide range of purposes: anti-aging, fighting cancer, reducing your risk of heart disease, and the list goes on. It’s especially useful among older people, as it can promote healthy cellular division and prevent the growth of tumors and cellular mutations caused by cancer. It can also reduce oxidative stress and prevent inflammation from causing problems.
- Fight diabetes. Zinc helps to balance the production of insulin, reducing your risk of insulin resistance. It binds with insulin to ensure that it’s easier for the pancreas to store, and makes it more effective at turning glucose into fuel rather than storing it as fat.
- Vital for muscles. Zinc is needed for cellular division and repair, speeding up post-workout recovery. It also increases the production of not just testosterone, but also IGF-1 and growth hormone. It contributes to an increase in muscle mass, speeds up your metabolism, and enhances your body’s ability to turn androstenione to testosterone.
As you can see, zinc is a VERY important micronutrient. Thankfully, there are a lot of foods that can deliver a healthy dose of this vital mineral, including cashews, lamb, grass-fed beef, yogurt, kefir, cashews, chickpeas, eggs, turkey, salmon, mushrooms, and turkey. Eat more of these foods to give your body the zinc it needs.
Magnesium is another one of those micronutrients your body just won’t function without! It plays a lot of different roles in your overall health:
- Produces energy. Magnesium is needed in order for your body to produce ATP energy, the energy your muscles burn when you work out. It also keeps the production of energy stable, preventing drastic spikes and drops in your energy levels.
- Aids in sleep. Magnesium helps to relax not just your body, but your mind as well. It aids in healthy sleep habits, slows your heart rate, and encourages the production of melatonin and serotonin to help you get to sleep.
- Calms your mind. Magnesium is used to produce GABA, a neurotransmitter that is needed to produce serotonin, dopamine, and other “feel good” neurochemicals. It can calm your brain and aid in relaxation.
- Keeps your muscles working. Magnesium plays a role in muscular contractions and the neuromuscular signals that control your muscles. A lack of magnesium can lead to muscle spasms and cramps, but getting more magnesium ensures your muscles relax and contract properly.
- Aids in heart health. Magnesium is needed to keep the heart working, specifically the left ventricle (which has the highest concentration of magnesium anywhere in the body). It also helps to relax blood vessels, aids in regulating blood pressure, and reduces your risk of hypertension.
- Regulates other minerals. Magnesium helps your body to absorb enough potassium and calcium from the food you eat, and helps to transport these two important minerals around the body. Magnesium works with calcium to keep your bones healthy, and it plays a role in the synthesis of glutathione, DNA, and RNA. It also regulates the activities of osteoblasts and osteoclasts, and can fight off osteoporosis.
Definitely a mineral you need to add to your daily diet! Some great magnesium-rich foods include spinach, chard, black beans, almonds, potatoes, cashews, bananas, avocadoes, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
There you have 5 important micronutrients for men outlined in black and white! Guys I would urge you to get some form of bloodwork done in order to make sure all of your levels are where they need to be to optimize your health.
You will see a wide range of health improvements including more energy, clarity and strength when you are properly topped up.