Vitamin and mineral supplements for men
Most men should get all the vitamins and nutrients they need from a varied and balanced diet.
Others may be recommended to take certain extra vitamins and supplements.
However, taking too much of some supplements can cause more harm than good.
Around 17% of men aged 19 to 64 years report taking at least one dietary supplement.
The government's National Diet and Nutrition Survey suggests some adults are lacking some vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin D and B2.
Seek medical advice before starting any new supplement or multivitamin.
Also known as retinol, vitamin A is found in oily fish, cheese, eggs, milk, fortified margarine and yoghurt. This vitamin has several important functions. For example, it helps maintain the health of the skin, and mucous linings (eg in the nose), the immune system and eyesight. The amount of vitamin A men need is 0.7mg a day.
Too much vitamin A over a long period could affect your bones and make them more likely to fracture when you get older.
Magnesium is obtained from a variety of foods. The best sources are green leafy vegetables (eg spinach) and nuts. Fish, meat, bread, and dairy foods are also good sources. Magnesium helps convert the food we eat into energy and is also important for maintaining bone health.
Men need 300mg of magnesium a day.
Taking high doses of magnesium over a short period can cause diarrhoea.
Selenium has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants appear to protect cells from damage. Some research suggested selenium supplements may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. However, one large study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the effect of selenium and Vitamin E on prostate and other cancers. Researchers concluded "selenium or vitamin E, alone or in combination at the doses and formulations used, did not prevent prostate cancer in this population of relatively healthy men." Further research is needed before conclusions can be drawn.
Men need 0.075mg of selenium a day.
Zinc is important in helping our bodies process the carbohydrate, protein and fat we get from our food, and in wound healing. Good food sources of zinc include shellfish, meat, milk, dairy foods and cereal.
Men need 5.5-9.5mg of zinc a day.
Taking high doses of zinc reduces the amount of copper the body can absorb, which can lead to anaemia and weakening of the bones.
Men need 1.2mg a day of the trace element copper.
One of the important functions of copper is to produce red and white blood cells. Adults need 1.2 mg per day of copper, which is found in shellfish, nuts and offal and a varied and balanced diet should ensure you get all the copper you need. If you do decide to take copper supplements, you should not take too much as high doses of copper could cause sickness, stomach pains and diarrhoea. High doses taken for a long time could damage your kidneys and liver.
Most vitamin D comes from safe exposure to summer sun.
Good food sources of vitamin D include oily fish and fortified foods, such as spreads and some breakfast cereals.
It is hard to get the daily amount of vitamin D needed from food, so most adults and children aged 4 and over are asked to consider taking a supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day during autumn and winter.