A Men’s Guide to Personalized Vitamins

The whole concept of a men’s multivitamin is flawed.  Do men share the same nutritional supplementation needs?  Do men really require “A to Z” ingredients encompassing nutrients like heavy metals or excessive levels of dangerous vitamins, like Vitamin A, that are rarely deficient?  Do men require dosing in line with RDA levels, or those levels that are standard for a healthy individual keeping a balanced diet?  It is folly to think that all men are the same regardless of their diet, fitness, health profile, or lifestyle.

Building essential nutrition through a daily vitamin is a nuanced task that requires customization and personalization.  There are a new breed of personalized vitamin companies that will do an upfront assessment and suggest a targeted vitamin routine for different individuals.  It is fairly universal for these companies to collect data through an online survey, but certain companies will require biological or genetic material, such as blood, hair, stool, or the results of a genetic test.  Consumers will often get excited about these methods, but there is limited evidence that the benefits of biological or genetic testing outweigh the costs and privacy concerns.  The concern is that these methods are being used as a hook to sell more supplements, when in fact, they provide less insight into individualized needs when compared to a well-structured survey instrument.  Consumers mistakenly assume these methods to be effective, when in fact, they are limited in what they can ascertain about vitamin needs, particularly the risks for future deficiencies.

Upon completion of an assessment, personalized vitamin companies will structure a set of recommendations.  The consumer should be wary about personalized vitamin companies that allow an individual to shop their own supplements or compile a “do-it-yourself” pill pack.  A consumer will likely suboptimize their own needs in this open shopping environment.  A leading approach is to prescribe a daily vitamin routine, ideally with a limited set of pills.  A personalized vitamin brand that will create a custom supplement, or all-in-one personalized multivitamin will cut down on pill load and cost.

It is also important to understand the scientific credibility behind the personalized vitamin company.  Do they have doctors on the team?  Are the recommendations grounded in leading science?  Is there evidence of research, such as a book or published article, that reflects the company’s original work?  The task of sharing personal data is delicate, and you should make sure that you find a brand that you can trust.

Key Vitamin Status Differences in Men that Require Personalization

While men tend not to have the same issues with bone density that women do, they do tend to want to build and maintain their muscle strength.  This requires certain key nutrients and may be affected by existing fitness routines.  Specifically, Vitamin D3 is important because this vitamin is hard to come by through food sources and is only obtained via sunlight, but even so, few of us get enough vitamin D this way and need to take proper and safe amounts in a vitamin.  Figuring out just how much to take is the key, and this is where personalization enters the picture.

Another important vitamin for men can be magnesium.  This important element is essential for muscle strength and function.  What is the point of getting protein to build strong muscles if your muscles don’t possess what they need to work optimally?  Magnesium does just that for muscle functioning.  It helps all your muscles contract smoothly (we will spare you the detailed bio chem on this but you may remember some of those ion channels from back in high school bio… it’s that stuff).  The interesting thing about magnesium is that it not only assists your body’s skeletal muscles work, but it also helps fuel all of your muscles, including your heart and blood vessels (yes, they have teeny tiny muscles in them).  Taking magnesium can be important for heart health and blood pressure.  It can assist in a smoothly functioning GI tract, since your gut is also one big muscle.  Magnesium is not found in significant amounts in many off the shelf one-a-day men’s multivitamins. The best personalized men’s multivitamins contain more than the typical “one a day” dosing.  Most men need approximately 300mg daily of magnesium to help support muscle strength and heart health. But amounts can vary and taking the right multivitamin for men should include an appropriate dose of magnesium.

In addition to supporting muscle strength and hearth health, the best multivitamins for men may also factor in hair loss.  We know that many men suffer from thinning hair or hair loss.  And there are in fact vitamins for thinning hair.  This process in men is partly hormonal, but vitamin deficiencies can play a role in hair loss.  A personalized multivitamin for men can address thinning hair by providing nutrients to support hair growth.  These can include iron (yes men can be iron deficient too, as often their total body iron stores are low), Vitamin D3 as well as biotin.  Biotin is a B vitamin that is an essential building block for hair.  When iron is a part of a custom vitamin regimen it should be paired with vitamin C for proper absorption.  A personalized vitamin will factor in these integrated requirements that promote absorption.

When looking at things that men look for in a multivitamin, prostate health is also an imperative.  It turns out, vitamins for prostate health are complicated subject matter.  The abundance of vitamins that have been suggested to be healthy for the prostate have proven not to do much, while some have even been shown to be harmful.  We suggest that less is more in this realm.  Relevant nutrients, such as vitamin E, have been shown to be harmful in higher doses.  Hence, sticking to a lower dose of E to help with other potential benefits (heart, immunity) is recommended.  There are also potential benefits from lycopene and selenium, but this is still not overwhelming data and some recommend only supplementing if proven to have prostate cancer or other illnesses.  Vitamin D is important for prostate health and should be included in most men’s multivitamins at proper doses.

Personalized Vitamins

Distilling Down the Research to a Custom Vitamin

It can be complex to sort through the evidence and put together a targeted routine for men.  There are personalized vitamin brands that have been effective at culling through the research and distilling it into a simplified routine.  A personalized all-in-one multivitamin is a path to find a vitamin that matches your individual profile.  The all-in-one design will ensure lower pill count and capped cost.  Look for companies with trustworthy medical professionals involved.  Consider the size and shape of the pill, and whether you can stick with swallowing it every day.  Think about the ways in which you want to hear from your vitamin company over months and years of taking the vitamin.  Do you want a vitamin company that provides ongoing education?  How about a vitamin company that seeks feedback?  Do you want a vitamin company that tracks your adherence, and explains the benefit of your personalized routine?  How about a vitamin company that will evolve your formula as your health and lifestyle changes?  Do you want to be able to control shipping cadence and subscription length, and easily put your subscription on pause?  These are all factors to consider when choosing your brand.

It is time to move from generic solutions to data-driven solutions.  The current digital environment allows for the tools to customize your vitamin.  You are not like every other man, so treating your body that way does it no favors in the long-term.  Once you experience the upside of personalized nutrition, you will be reluctant to go back to your prior routine.  This is not the time to be stubborn or married to prior methods – your health demands greater attention and support.

Jessie Jacobs
Jessie Jacobs