Sensible Vitamin Supplementation Strategy
The council for responsible nutrition offers the following sensible vitamin supplementation strategy. Notice that only a few vitamin supplements are recommended and they are recommended in relatively small quantities. Larger quantities of vitamin supplements are not necessary and can sometimes even be detrimental to overall health and longevity.
A multivitamin forms the base of any vitamin supplementation strategy. A multivitamin will fill most nutrient gaps in a typical diet. Many multivitamins come in formulations specifically designed for men under 50 years of age and for men over 50 years of age.
Most men do not get enough calcium in their diets and most multivitamins do not provide enough calcium to meet recommended daily calcium intake (1,000 to 1,200 mg). Calcium, when combined with Vitamin D, may slow the rate of bone loss and protect against fractures. Calcium is found in dairy products, dark green vegetables, and beans, among other foods, and regular consumption of these foods may preclude the need for supplementation.
Vitamin C and Vitamin E
According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report, many individuals need to increase their intake of vitamins C and E. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants. They both serve an important protective function against oxidative damage in the body. Beyond the minimum recommended daily intake (90 mg for Vitamin C and 15 mg for Vitamin E), no specific intake recommendations exist. The upper limit intake levels (2000 mg of Vitamin C and 1000 mg Vitamin E) are safe for the general population.1
Other supplements are available, and their use is tied to specific needs. For example, omega-3 supplements may be prescribed by physicians for the purpose of lowering triglycerides. Lastly, elderly men, under the advisement of their physician, may consider supplementing with vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin D, as elderly individuals are at particular risk for these deficiencies.2
Of note, the supplement industry is under a different set of FDA regulations that pharmaceuticals and food products. Supplement manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the safety and efficacy of their products; however, the FDA does not evaluate the products before or after coming to market unless an adverse event occurs. Consequently, it is frequently the case that supplements do not achieve their marketed health goals and may present a health risk.
It is important to speak with your physician before beginning vitamin or nutritional supplementation of any kind.