5 Muscle-Building, Energy-Packed Vitamins

Five years after telling a bunch of angry apes to keep their filthy paws off him, Charlton Heston starred in Soylent Green. In the film, a megacorporation solves a starving world's need for nutritious food by turning the dead into dinner. This is complete science fiction, of course: Most of us are so short on key nutrients we couldn't possibly be someone's square meal.

In fact, studies show that 77 percent of men don't take in enough magnesium, that many of us are deficient in vitamin D, and that the vitamin B12 in our diets may be undermined by a common heartburn medication. And we haven't even mentioned our problems with potassium and iodine.

It's time to play catch-up. Follow our advice, and a cannibal will never call you junk food.

Vitamin D

This vitamin's biggest claim to fame is its role in strengthening your skeleton. But vitamin D isn't a one-trick nutrient: A study in Circulation found that people deficient in D were up to 80 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. The reason? D may reduce inflammation in your arteries.

The shortfall: Vitamin D is created in your body when the sun's ultraviolet B rays penetrate your skin. Problem is, the vitamin D you stockpile during sunnier months is often depleted by winter, especially if you live in the northern half of the United States, where UVB rays are less intense from November through February. Case in point: When Boston University researchers measured the vitamin D status of young adults at the end of winter, 36 percent of them were found to be deficient.

Hit the mark: First, ask your doctor to test your blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. "You need to be above 30 nanograms per milli-liter," says Michael Holick, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of medicine at Boston University. Come up short? Take 1,400 IU of vitamin D daily from a supplement and a multivitamin. That's about seven times the recommended daily intake for men, but it takes that much to boost blood levels of D, says Dr. Holick.

Magnesium

This lightweight mineral is a tireless multitasker: It's involved in more than 300 bodily processes. Plus, a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that low levels of magnesium may increase your blood levels of C-reactive protein, a key marker of heart disease.

The shortfall: Nutrition surveys reveal that men consume only about 80 percent of the recommended 400 milligrams (mg) of magnesium a day. "We're just barely getting by," says Dana King, M.D., a professor of family medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. "Without enough magnesium, every cell in your body has to struggle to generate energy."

Hit the mark: Fortify your diet with more magnesium-rich foods, such as halibut and navy beans. Then hit the supplement aisle: Few men can reach 400 mg through diet alone, so Dr. King recommends ingesting some insurance in the form of a 250 mg supplement. One caveat: Scrutinize the ingredients list. You want a product that uses magnesium citrate, the form best absorbed by your body. 

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