Science

10 Nutrients to Look for in a Men's Multivitamin

9 min read
To find the best men's multivitamin, you'll want to look for these 10 nutrients.
To find the best men's multivitamin, you'll want to look for these 10 nutrients.

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Let’s be real. Whether you identify as really fit or even just healthyish, you may have some blind spots around nutrition and wellness. Hey—no one’s perfect. In fact, you might find comfort in knowing that you’re definitely not alone: According to recent data, men are falling short on key nutrients like magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin D, and more. So, what gives? (1,2)

To be clear, when it comes to optimum nutrition habits, Ritual believes in a “food first” philosophy—that is, aiming to meet the bulk of your daily nutrient needs via a balanced diet. By focusing on the foundations of wellbeing—like eating whole, unprocessed foods (and getting regular exercise)—you can use multivitamins for their intended purpose: as a supplement, instead of as a substitute or corrective measure intended to make up for a less-than-ideal approach to nourishment.

But for certain nutrients, even a great diet can fall short, simply because there are other things that come into play. Factors like genetic variations, dietary restrictions, and other lifestyle preferences can all have an impact on our nutrient intake. And that’s why multivitamins can be important: to help fill nutritional gaps in the diet.*

Still, not all multivitamins are created equal. From our POV, a high-quality multivitamin (or any dietary supplement, really) should have key nutrient needs top of mind, with forms that the body can actually use—without shady extras or unnecessary ingredients; no “more is more” approach to nutrients, which can actually get in the way of absorption.

Want an example? While iron plays a really important role in supporting blood health, most men actually get adequate amounts of it through diet alone—and overdoing it on iron can ultimately have a negative impact. (Translation: When it comes to supplementation, they can probably skip iron in a multi.) Women, on the other hand, need a little more help in the iron department, which is why we recommend that they look for a quality form of iron in their multivitamin. (3)

On the flip side, women are more likely to meet their vitamin A and zinc needs through their daily diets, while men need a little extra. You can see where we’re going with this: We recommend that men look for vitamin A and zinc in their daily multivitamin. (2)

All in all, our in-house team and Scientific Advisory Board—which encompasses renowned medical doctors, nutritionists, and scientists with decades of experience between them—examined thousands of studies to identify how nutrient needs shift throughout stages of life: the common gaps, the genetic considerations, the impact of different diets. With all that in mind, our science team has identified 10 key nutrients to look for in a multivitamin for men. Class is in session below.

Vitamin A. In addition to supporting vision, Vitamin A plays an important role in supporting normal immune function. Multitasking in the name of supporting health? That’s something we can definitely get behind.*

But here’s the thing. While a lot of vitamin A needs can be met through diet alone (you can find it in foods like eggs, dairy, fish, and plant-based options like carrots, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens), men† are a bit behind women in meeting their daily levels. That’s why opting for a multivitamin with vitamin A can be a really good idea. (2)

Zinc. While we're on the topic of multitasking (not to mention the immune system), zinc is an important nutrient that helps support normal immune function, along with vision and bone health. Men have a higher recommended zinc intake than women—which is why we recommend looking for zinc in a men’s multi.*

Omega-3 DHA. We get it, omega-3—you’re kind of a big deal. Omega-3 DHA fatty acids play an important role in helping support brain health, vision health, and cardiovascular health, which is why it’s a shame that many of us fall short of meeting recommended daily intakes. And since omega-3 DHA is found mainly in fish, it can be extra tricky if you’re vegan or vegetarian.*

That’s where a quality supplement can step in—and ideally a vegan-friendly one, at that. Pro tip: Look for an omega-3 DHA oil sourced from microalgae.

Vitamin D3. Did you know that up to 93% of men ages 19-50 aren’t getting enough vitamin D from their diets? That’s important, considering vitamin D’s role in supporting bone health, normal immune function, and muscle function. Filling vitamin D shortfalls isn’t just a question of getting some sun, since factors like climate, SPF, and even skin tone can all have an impact. Instead, opt for a supplement that contains vitamin D3, which is the form of vitamin D the body naturally produces.*

Vitamin E. Fact: Many men aren’t meeting their vitamin E needs through diet alone. And since it’s an antioxidant, vitamin E is a defender you may want on your team. A word to the wise: Look for vitamin E sourced from mixed tocopherols in your multivitamin, since that’s the same spectrum of this nutrient found in a healthy diet.*

Vitamin K2. Suffice to say that K2 kind of flies under the radar, so let’s give this key nutrient some of the attention it deserves. In addition to helping support heart health, vitamin K2 is an important calcium-helper nutrient when it comes to bone support. (By the way, there are two main forms of vitamin K: K1 and K2. Learn more here.)*

Vitamin B12. B12 plays an important role in contributing to normal cell division. The caveat? Vitamin B12 is found mainly in meat, fish, and eggs, so vegans and vegetarians can have a really tough time getting enough through diet alone. And since B12 also supports energy-yielding metabolism, shortfalls can manifest as sluggishness and brain fog. That’s where a quality multivitamin can really come in handy.*

Folate. This B-vitamin plays a role in DNA methylation and red blood cell formation. You might recognize the name of its synthetic counterpart, folic acid, which is a popular option in many supplements on the market. But there’s actually an important caveat where folic acid is concerned: Up to one-third of people have a genetic variation called MTHFR, which makes it a bit trickier to efficiently utilize folic acid specifically. That’s why we’d opt for methylated folate (5-MTHF), which is a cell-identical, bioavailable version. In other words, it can be efficiently utilized—even with that pesky gene variation.*

Magnesium. How well do you really know this powerhouse nutrient? Magnesium lends support to the body in lots of ways, from bone health to normal muscle contraction.*

That said, we need a lot of magnesium to meet our nutritional needs—men ages 19-50 should aim for a daily intake of roughly 400-420 mg, and many come up short. You can aim to meet your magnesium needs through your diet (dark chocolate, avocado, and nuts are all good sources), but we also recommend taking a quality magnesium supplement to help fill gaps. (Bonus tip: Look for chelated magnesium, which has shown absorbability.)*

Boron. Allow us to introduce you to this unsung hero. Boron does a lot of work behind the scenes to help support bone health—working alongside other nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium.*

Hold the extras.

Notice anything missing from this list? (We see you, calcium, vitamin C, copper, and selenium.) That’s intentional—from our POV, what’s left out of a multivitamin supplement matters just as much as what’s inside, especially once you take into account that too much of one thing can impact another. (Explore why you won’t find certain nutrients in our formulas.) Speaking of what’s left out: Our “less is more” approach extends beyond nutrients into mystery additives and fillers; not only are our multivitamins formulated without shady and/or unnecessary ingredients, they’re also gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and free of major allergens.

Extras you should look out for when assessing quality? Third-party quality certification (for example, USP verification and Non-GMO verification) and traceability. Supply chain transparency and rigorous safety standards become that much more salient when choosing a product designed to be taken daily. Are the manufacturers National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified? Do they follow current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs)? All good questions to ask—here's some more.

Also, a multivitamin that considers the enjoyability factor is always a bonus—after all, the best multivitamins are the ones you actually like (or even look forward to) taking. To enhance the experience and freshen up the flavor, we added a food-grade minty tab to our bottles, infused with pure peppermint oil from Yakima, Washington. And we housed our nutrients in a delayed-release softgel capsule designed to help bypass the stomach and deliver nutrients to the small intestine (since they dissolve later, they can be taken on an empty stomach—no food necessary).

One last thing.

While focusing on micronutrients is critical to optimum health, it's just as important to mind your macros along the way, too—and that includes making sure you're consuming enough protein. Supplementing with a high-quality protein powder designed for specific life stags can be a smart way to shore up protein intake and support dietary gaps—no matter how old you are. (For the record, Essential Protein is Informed Sport Certified.)*

The bottom line?

In a perfect world, you’d get enough of all the essential nutrients through diet alone. But that’s also really tricky, due to a variety of factors ranging from genetic variations to dietary preferences. The best bet? Opting for a quality multivitamin that keeps nutrient needs in mind. And, of course, if you have any specific questions regarding medical advice, men’s health, or vitamin supplements in general, reaching out to your physician is never a bad idea.

References:

  1. Prattala, R., Paalanen, L., Grinberga, D., Helasoja, V., Kasmel, A., & Petkeviciene, J. (2006). Gender differences in the consumption of meat, fruit and vegetables are similar in Finland and the Baltic countries. The European Journal of Public Health, 17(5), 520–525. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckl265
  2. NHIS - National Health Interview Survey Homepage. (2020, March 16). Retrieved from the CDC
  3. Ofojekwu, M.-J. N., Nnanna, O. U., Okolie, C. E., Odewumi, L. A., Isiguzoro, I. O. U., & Lugos, M. D. (2013). Hemoglobin and Serum Iron Concentrations.... Laboratory Medicine, 44(2), 121–124. doi: 10.1309/lmm7a0f0qbxeyssi

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Meet Our Experts

This article features advice and has been reviewed by members of our Science Team.

Science Thumb — Nima

Dr. Nima Alamdari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Nima Alamdari is Chief Scientific Officer at Ritual. He was previously faculty at Harvard University where he researched muscle metabolism in health and disease. He received a PhD in Muscle Physiology and a First Degree in Biochemistry from The University of Nottingham in the UK. He has authored many original articles in top international peer-reviewed journals and presented at world-leading international conferences.

Science Thumb — Nima

Dr. Nima Alamdari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Nima Alamdari is Chief Scientific Officer at Ritual. He was previously faculty at Harvard University where he researched muscle metabolism in health and disease. He received a PhD in Muscle Physiology and a First Degree in Biochemistry from The University of Nottingham in the UK. He has authored many original articles in top international peer-reviewed journals and presented at world-leading international conferences.

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