Daily multivitamin is all you need, doctors say; Nutrients should come from the food you eat
Barry W. Ramo, M.D., FACC
Sorry, guys, we hate to tell you but the experts say there’s no pill that will prevent a body part from going kaput. But it can’t hurt to take a multivitamin, says Dr. Barry Ramo, an Albuquerque cardiologist. Other than that, he and other health experts say, if men want to stay healthy they need to eat healthfully, exercise, keep socially active and not smoke. Taking supplements other than a once-a-day multivitamin doesn’t make sense, for the most part, says Ramo. “If you’re going to get your vitamins, then get them from your food,” he says. “I find that people who take vitamins, they don’t exercise and they’re overweight.” Michael Lichtenberger, owner of R. Downs Nutrition Center, which carries vitamins and a variety of supplements, says research he has read says everyone should take a one-aday multivitamin because of nutrient depletion from the soil in which veggies are grown. “So there are nutrient deficiencies based on our current diets,” Lichtenberger says. “One way of addressing that is with a multi.” Men’s health concerns include prevention of prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease and other cancers. Certain key nutrients for men are B6, B12 and folate, which Lichtenberger says can help prevent heart attacks. Men also should make sure their multivitamin has magnesium, which can help prevent cardiovascular disease. To help with prostate health, he recommends a vitamin with an herbal supplement called saw palmetto, especially for men age 50 and older. “That’s what I’d want to see: B6, B12, folate, magnesium and saw palmetto. Those would be core in a multi (vitamin).” Ismael Khalef, an herbalist at Pharmaca, recommends food-based, natural source multivitamins, which he says the body more easily absorbs. He also recommends that men look for a multivitamin that contains herbal extracts to help prevent prostate cancer. In addition to taking a multivitamin, Khalef says men should consider taking Omega-3 fish oils, which can help lower cholesterol and prevent heart attacks, Khalef says. Pharmaca carries a variety of supplements for heart and brain health, as well as for keeping the libido active. While supplements line the aisles of health food stores, Jeremy Gleeson, an endocrinologist for Lovelace Sandia Health System, says men who maintain a well-balanced diet don’t need to take a multivitamin. Though, he says, as people get older, a multivitamin could be helpful as gaps appear in their diets. And, he warns, men shouldn’t take iron supplements, which can lead to hemachromatosis, a condition that can damage the body’s organs. Ramo, who writes a column for the Journal’s monthly magazine Boomer, adds that people should remember to spend time outside so they don’t become deficient in vitamin D. Men should also remember to drink their milk – or take calcium supplements. “Men think they’re immune to osteoporosis,” Ramo says. “I tell people that they want to have a bone scan. They should get enough calcium and vitamin D.” He also recommends people have their vitamin D levels checked by a doctor.
Dr. Barry Ramo is a cardiologist with the New Mexico Heart Institute and medical editor for KOAT-TV. Send questions for him to Albuquerque Journal Boomer, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103, or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org