The Only Three Supplements You Need
Credit: Photograph by The Voorhes

Dietary supplements have taken a beating lately. A barrage of damning new reports suggest that millions of Americans are being bamboozled by products that are understudied, unproven, and unnecessary.

However, many researchers and physicians agree that there are three supplements men should take for optimal health. "No matter how healthy your diet, there are certain nutrients — magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids — that most men lack," says Frank Lipman, an integrative physician in New York City. Deficiencies in these three particular areas can yield a whole host of health problems, studies show.

Here, why we're missing the mark on these essential nutrients, how to get enough, and what brands to trust. (We consulted with ConsumerLab, which conducts independent tests on supplements to ensure they contain exactly what the labels claim and are free of toxins.)

Magnesium: The Body's Engine
"Magnesium is the most important mineral for your body," says Dennis Goodman, a cardiologist and director of integrative medicine at New York University. "More than 350 enzymatic functions require it." Those functions regulate everything from metabolism and sleep cycles to blood pressure. With sufficient magnesium, research shows, you may help prevent problems — cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches — and alleviate existing ones, such as muscle aches, insomnia, and anxiety.

Goodman says 70 to 80 percent of us are deficient in the mineral, even those who eat lots of leafy greens, nuts, beans, and other magnesium-rich foods. "Soils are usually depleted of magnesium, so vegetables aren't getting enough from the soil," he says.

Another all-too-common problem feeds the deficiency. "Magnesium needs go up drastically with stress," says nutritionist Andrea Rosanoff, co-author of The Magnesium Factor. When you're stressed, adrenaline spikes and blood pressure rises, and your cells consume magnesium more rapidly. "It's the difference between the gas you'd need to drive your car very slowly versus in a high-speed chase," she says. "Even with the same amount in the tank, you run out more quickly when speeding."

How Much You Need: Goodman recommends three milligrams per pound of body weight as a maintenance dose, so if you're 165 pounds, take 500 milligrams daily. (If you regularly eat lots of magnesium-rich foods, cut that dose in half.) You can take the pills any time of day, but popping them before bed may help you sleep more soundly, he adds.

Trusted Brands: Vitamin Shoppe Magnesium Citrate, Solaray Magnesium AsporotateLife Extension Magnesium (Citrate)

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