Supplements Vitamin Gender

Along with age and your current state of health, your gender plays a role in determining which nutrients you need to stay healthy. Because men’s and women’s bodies are built uniquely to perform specific, different functions, they require distinct amounts of different nutrients. For example, while men typically need more protein to maintain their muscle mass, women generally need more fats to promote healthy menstruation and sustain a growing fetus, if they become pregnant.

Many multivitamins and other dietary supplements on the market claim to be geared towards a particular gender. However, because some aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), don’t have enough of the nutrients you need or simply contain extra “junk” that you don’t need, knowing the precise amounts of different nutrients recommended for your gender is key to picking the right supplements for you.

Before starting any multivitamin or other supplement, keep in mind that you should always consult your doctor first. While your doctor can recommend supplements that are better or warn against those that are harmful, he can also ensure that you choose a multivitamin that doesn’t negatively interact with any medications you may be taking.

Gender-Specific Factors that Affect Nutritional Needs

Even though we all know the primary physical differences between men and women, there are a number of less obvious differences between the genders that affect the nutritional needs of each. Some of the ways in which men’s and women’s bodies operate differently are reflected in the following gender-specific conditions or organic processes:

  • menopause
  • menstruation
  • pregnancy
  • the production of gender-specific hormones (i.e. testosterone for men and estrogen for women).

Interestingly, many of these and other physiological differences between the genders are related to the basic reproductive hormone differences between men and women, which usually become prevalent when children reach the age of 9 years old. As a result, although boys and girls under about age 9 have roughly the same nutritional needs, those approaching and going through puberty will start to take on the unique nutritional needs of their particular gender.

While gender is one of the key components that determines what types of nutrients you need, keep in mind that your personal and family history are just as important. For example, those with a family history of breast or testicular cancer will have to take different nutritional precautions than others with a family history of diabetes.

Nutrition for Women

Women have a higher percentage of body fat than men to help them menstruate and support a growing fetus. As a result, women need:

  • fewer calories than men, as higher muscle concentration demands more calories: Women typically need to ingest anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day, depending on their age, how active they are and whether or not they are nursing or pregnant. (Those who are pregnant or nursing will need to take in more calories.)
  • more calcium and folate to promote bone and heart health: For pregnant women, these nutrients are especially important, as they also help ward off potential fetal development problems. While women under 50 need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, this same group should ingest about 400 milligrams of folate daily.
  • more iron to promote healthy blood especially during the years of menstruation (usually between 16 and 50 years old): The FDA recommends 18 milligrams per day for this group of females.

Nutrition For Men

Unlike women, men tend to have less fat and more muscle on their bodies due to the higher levels of testosterone circulating throughout their bodies. This results in men needing:

  • more calories to sustain and build muscles: The FDA recommends that men take in 1,800 to 2,500 calories per day, depending on their age and physical activity.
  • more protein to also maintain and repair muscles: Men can calculate their protein needs by dividing the number of pounds they weigh by 2.2. For men below age 50 that are of healthy weight, the recommended amount of protein ranges between 80 to 115 grams per day.