Men’s Nutrition 101

Men's Nutrition 101

Nutrition is important for everyone, but often, men are left out of the discussion.

Men think about supplements, but may not give much thought to the foods they eat. Food should be the first source for all nutrients, and eating a balanced diet is the best way to get the nutrients your body needs, including protein, vitamins and minerals.

To support your overall health, you need to include the following:  eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep and exercise regularly. Failure to maintain this balance will eventually impact your energy levels and your body’s ability to fend off illness. When good nutrition is lacking in your daily lifestyle, dietary supplements may be necessary for an additional nutrient boost. However, do not start taking a supplement without first talking with your health care provider. It’s important to know about safety and usefulness of supplements before making a decision; not all supplements are safe for every person.

Are supplements safe to use?

Be careful when choosing supplements. People will often think that if a supplement has known ingredients, like protein, then it must be healthy for you; this is not always the case.

Dietary supplements are reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The regulations on supplements are different from foods and drugs. While foods must prove they are effective before making a claim, supplements do not have to prove they are safe or even if the claims are valid before selling them to the general public. If a product has been shown to be unsafe, then the FDA can remove or restrict its sale.

Being aware of these facts when choosing a supplement and taking the time to discuss it with your doctor can help protect you on this journey. When taking a supplement, follow the dosing directions according to the package. Do not think that more is better. In the case of supplements, more can be dangerous.

Fortified foods

Many foods are now fortified with vitamins, minerals and other supplements to help the consumer improve their health. Breads and cereals are now fortified with iron and folic acid. Juices are sometimes fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Some cereals are even fortified with extra protein.

The fortification of foods is not bad but needs to be considered when selecting a dietary supplement to avoid consuming too much of any one nutrient which could result in some health risks.

Adequate calories

The human body needs adequate calories to maintain regular body functions.  If you cut back on calories beyond what your body needs, the body will slow down the way it processes the foods often leading to weight gain. While fewer calories are key to losing weight, you must also maintain an adequate amount of calories daily. Consult a registered dietitian to help you determine how many calories you need to support your goals for the best health.

Maintaining good health involves all the above and more. Get regular checkups from your doctor, follow up as recommend and stay active. For more specific nutrition information, consult a registered dietitian to help you make the best choices for a lifetime of benefits.

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Heather Venoy, RD, LD, CDE

Heather Venoy is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator for Marshall Health’s Bruce Chertow Diabetes Center in Huntington, W.Va. Heather is a graduate of Marshall University and has 20 years of experience in dietetics.

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