When you consider the nutritional content of foods you eat and supplements you take, many will be the same if you are a man or a woman. Because of men’s more frequent and strenuous exercise and the risk of infection, dysfunction and cancer in the prostate and male reproductive organs, men over 40 may want to consider taking supplements (vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients) that deal specifically with their needs.
There are certain vitamins that men need. Vitamin C is often used to treat infections of the prostate. Vitamin D and E may be important in fighting prostate cancer, which can be found in 25 percent or more of men age 50 and older. A 2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, however, concluded that vitamin E did not decrease risk of prostate cancer. Because much of your vitamin D supply is manufactured with the help of sun on the skin, darker-skinned men may have a greater need for taking supplemental vitamin D. Vitamin B6 is especially important for metabolizing proteins, so it is particularly important to more active men. Vitamins A (including beta carotene), C, and E are all antioxidants that reduce free radicals that can cause cancer.
The prostate gland uses more zinc than any other organ of the body, so any zinc deficiency is more likely to be noticeable there first. For a long time, pumpkin seeds were recommended for men with enlarged prostates, and it was proven effective because they are good sources of zinc. Compared to women who are at greater risk of calcium and iron deficiency, men need much less of these minerals. Overdoses of iron can happen easily and lead to heart disease, because the body does not excrete it. So men and postmenopausal women should not supplement iron in their diets. Too much calcium can actually increase risk of developing prostate cancer.
Lycopene is another antioxidant that can reduce cancer risk. Fructose (sugar found in fruits and some sweeteners) helps the body produce a specific type of vitamin D. Supplements with soy contain genistein (a cancer inhibitor) and L-arginine (an amino acid that helps with erectile dysfunction by supporting nitric oxide production). Garlic is included in many supplements, and among the reasons is its sulfur content, which can also help inhibit cancer. Selenium is good to have, but its use in preventing prostate cancer has not yet been proven. Saw palmetto, an extract from a fruit, has been shown to be as effective at shrinking enlarged prostates as synthetic drugs but with fewer side effects. For active men, trainers and doctors may recommend supplements of the amino acid L-glutamine, which can be depleted in the body by up to 40 percent during strenuous exercise.