Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that supports a myriad of crucial biological functions.* The thing is, 41% of American adults have insufficient vitamin D levels and 29% are straight-up deficient—which means they can't optimize their health in a number of areas. How sufficient vitamin D levels support women (particularly before, during, and after pregnancy) is significantly researched, but what about men?* How do they specifically benefit from vitamin D?
Benefits of vitamin D for men.
Supports muscle growth and development.
When you think of tailoring your diet to promote muscle growth and function, supplements like creatine, protein powders, and branched-chain amino acids (aka BCAAs) likely come to mind. Be honest—how often have one of your friends asked about your vitamin D levels in between sets? (We're willing to bet never.)
As nutrition musculoskeletal scientist Christian Wright, Ph.D., previously reported to mbg, vitamin D regulates a number of cellular pathways and functions that maintain muscle health.*
For starters, vitamin D is vital to skeletal muscle form and function—and we're talking all movement.* Vitamin D receptors (VDR) have been found in skeletal muscle throughout the body (i.e., the ones that flex and make your bones and body move), indicating muscles need vitamin D to participate in all sorts of daily activities—not just exercise.*
Sufficient vitamin D is also required to maintain a healthy percentage of muscle mass throughout the lifespan.* In fact, research shows higher muscle mass slows down muscle loss with age and can even promote longevity.
If you've plateaued in the gym, vitamin D insufficiency could be a contributing factor. "Having adequate levels of vitamin D is essential for optimizing the benefits of vitamin D on muscle,"* says Wright. Thankfully, research reveals that individuals deficient or insufficient in vitamin D can significantly improve muscle function and strength simply by taking a high-quality and effectively dosed vitamin D3 supplement.*
At mbg, we know mental wellness is an important aspect of overall health. So, when the science says vitamin D provides everyday mood support to promote mental well-being, we listen.*
With 93% of Americans failing to consume just 400 I.U. of vitamin D (and we need a whole lot more per the science), any explanation of how the sunshine vitamin supports our brain and improves mental welfare (and encourages people to get their levels checked out) is a massive win.* Luckily, vitamin D's role in cognitive function, mood, and mental well-being has been a focused area of research over the past few years.*
First off, vitamin D receptors and metabolites are found throughout the brain, indicating vitamin D has an important role in brain function and health.* This fact was further proved in a 2020 review that revealed sufficient vitamin D levels can promote mental well-being, uplift mood, and support cognitive vitality.*
In regards to emotional health, another 2020 review concluded that vitamin D supplementation can help improve mood by reducing negative emotions.* (This massive review and meta-analysis research also indicates that those with a vitamin D deficiency would benefit from supplementation.*)
Even more recently, it was found that vitamin D works closely with the pineal gland to help regulate serotonin and melatonin levels (two hormones vital to mental well-being and good sleep).* As we know, sleep is integral to overall well-being—and not an area of health to be ignored when discussing mental wellness.
Supports male fertility.
The spotlight is on male fertility as of late, and we're excited about the emerging science. If you found vitamin D's role in muscle health and mood impressive, just wait until you hear about all the ways this essential vitamin supports male reproductive health.*
Vitamin D's role in fertility is a very hot area of research, director of scientific affairs at mbg Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, reports on the mindbodygreen podcast. VDR are found in the penis, testes, and sperm, demonstrating vitamin D plays a significant role in male sexual function (and that sufficient levels are crucial in supporting fertility and reproductive health).*
A 2020 review reveals that vitamin D supports male fertility potential by improving sperm motility.* "It turns out the quality of semen and the ability of sperm to swim is dependent on vitamin D status,"* Ferira states. And the science doesn't stop there. In addition to sperm health, a 2021 study in the World Journal of Men's Health discusses how erectile function (which is an important predictor of male health) directly relies on vitamin D.*
So, there you have it: Vitamin D helps men have healthy, active sex lives.* If that doesn't convince you to pay attention to your vitamin D levels, we don't know what will.
What is the best type of vitamin D supplement to take?
If you're sold on all of the incredible vitamin D benefits for men we've outlined, it's time to talk about supplementation. There are a few vitamin D supplement must-haves to keep in mind as you seek out the best option for you and your health needs.*
First, finding a vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplement as opposed to the far inferior vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is crucial.* According to a large body of scientific evidence, D3 is more efficacious, bioavailable, stable, and potent (like 87% more potent) than D2.* Enough said.
Next, let's chat about vitamin D sources. While most vitamin D supplements are made from lanolin, a yellow fat in sheep's wool, and it's a great option, the new school of vitamin D sources are of plant origin. For a plant-based alternative to lanolin, algae is the pinnacle of innovative (sustainable) sources of D3. That's why mbg's vitamin D3 potency+ formula features vitamin D3 from sustainable, organic algae.
When it comes to dosage, men should look for a daily supplement with 5,000 I.U. per serving, and those deficient in vitamin D or those with an overweight or obese body composition may require higher doses.
Remember, because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it should be taken alongside some fat. This is exactly why mbg leveraged absorption technology in its formula, infusing a trio of organic, virgin oils from avocado, oil, and flax. This not only directly supports the bioavailability of vitamin D3, but these oils also deliver healthy fats (omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids).*
So to recap, optimizing form (D3), potency (5,000 I.U. plus), and bioavailability is where it's at for the cutting-edge of vitamin D. No doubt, that's why these health experts swear by vitamin D3 potency+.
If you're still not sure whether or not a specific vitamin D supplement is good quality, you can always ask your health care provider to ensure you're meeting your needs. (And if your vitamin D levels are stubborn, here are some possible reasons why).
The bottom line.
If you're a dude, vitamin D can do wonders for your muscles, mood, reproductive health, and more (hello, whole-body health)—but achieving sufficient levels of this essential fat-soluble micronutrient is vital to reaping these health benefits.* With a high-quality vitamin D supplement, you'll be supporting your best self in no time.*
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.