Vitamin D, also called the “sunshine vitamin,” is a nutrient found in foods, such as seafood, egg yolks and fortified dairy products. It’s also synthesized by the body in response to ultraviolet rays and prevalent in dietary supplements. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, reduces inflammation and plays an important role in brain function. You and the men in your life, ages 19 to 70, require 600 international units daily for optimum health, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
Improved Bone Health
A man's bone mass peaks around age 20, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Like women, without enough calcium and vitamin D, men can develop weak, brittle bones later in life. Severe cases are known as osteoporosis, which poses significant risks for falling and fractures later in life. Men tend to contain more body weight than women, which may increase the risk of spills and fractures because their bones hold up more heft.
Reduced Risk for Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and men have a higher risk than women. In a study featured by the Office of Dietary Supplements, 3,121 adults -- primarily men -- ages 50 and younger underwent colonoscopies. Researchers found that high vitamin D intake, or more than 645 international units per day, decreased participants' risk of cancerous lesions in the colon by about 10 percent.
Improved Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major contributor to heart disease and heart disease-related death. Blood pressure levels are often elevated during winter months, according to MensFitness.com, a time when the body produces less vitamin D in response to sun exposure. Although more research is needed, there could be a significant correlation between vitamin D and blood pressure health. If so, a vitamin D deficiency could increase the risk of blood pressure in men who eat diets rich in fatty meats and dairy products -- a trend particularly popular among fitness-minded men.
Reduced Depression Symptoms
Depressive moods and a lack of vitamin D can go hand in hand. Short-term hefty prescription doses of vitamin D may help minimize depression symptoms, according to Dr. Sonal Pathak, an endocrinologist in Dover, Delaware. “The vitamin is prevalent in areas of the brain associated with behavior and emotion, such as the amygdala and hippocampus, so when levels are low, they can’t function like they’re supposed to,” she told “Men’s Health News” in July 2012. Vitamin D also helps the release of brain chemicals associated with positive moods, including dopamine, serotonin and epinephrine.
Women tend to outlive men. Maintaining sufficient vitamin D intake may help reduce this gap. A study published in “Osteoporosis International” in 2012 examined the blood levels of vitamin D and mortality rate in 2,878 elderly men in Sweden for an average of six years. Men with the lowest vitamin D levels were significantly more likely to die during the study than men with healthier levels. An overall healthy diet, sufficient in vitamin D and other essential nutrients, also boosts immune system function, lowering the risk for illness and increasing the ability to heal.
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com