When it comes to DNA, men and women are about 99% identical. The daily balance of protein, carbs and good-for-you fats our bodies need is pretty gender-neutral. And the amount of calories we require each day largely depends on our body size and activity level.
But there are times when men and women have different nutritional needs. Understanding these differences will go a long way toward helping people get the vitamins and minerals their bodies need, both from food and nutritional supplements.
Supplements are not one-size-fits-all
To help us explore this, we turned to our expert, Holiday Zanetti, a senior research scientist and clinical investigator for Nutrilite.
When it comes to selecting the right supplements for our gender and stage of life, don’t assume a blanket approach will work for you, Holiday says. Here is what she recommends.
Women need more calcium
Women have to make sure they are getting enough calcium to support bone health. But trying to get the recommended 1,000+ milligrams has left some resorting to huge, chalky-tasting supplements.
Instead, women should focus on fitting more calcium into their daily meals and snacks. “Eating calcium-rich foods, coupled with vitamin D to help absorption, is important,” Holiday said.
If you choose to add a supplement, look for one that offers some side benefits. Nutrilite™ Cal Mag D combines calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. A daily dose has more vitamin D than 5 cups of fortified milk, which helps make sure your body is absorbing the calcium.† It also provides 100% of the recommended daily zinc intake, which is important for bone growth.†
Men need more protein
Protein recommendations are based on weight. Because men generally weigh more than women, they generally have different protein needs than women. It’s not surprising since they are genetically designed to have a higher percentage of muscle and less fat than women. The essential amino acids in protein are key nutrients to developing muscle.
Studies also have found that a diet where a quarter of the daily calories come from protein boosts energy and keeps hunger pangs at bay. One way to make sure you are getting enough healthy proteins is to use a supplement, like Nutrilite™ All Plant Protein Powder, which is sourced from soy, wheat and yellow peas.
Nutritional gender differences
While too many carbohydrates—especially ones from processed foods—can lead to weight gain, good carbs are crucial to health as a source of fiber. Dietary fiber plays an important role in managing both weight and blood sugars.
On the whole, because they generally weigh more, men need more fiber than women—about 38 grams per day compared to 25 grams for women ages 19-50.
Before, during and after pregnancy
Another major difference, of course, is the fact that women can have children. Their nutritional needs change with every stage—before, during and after pregnancy.
“Women’s nutrient needs are very different during pre-conception, pregnancy and the postpartum period than for a woman not in these life stages,” Holiday said. “Requirements for folate, iron, omega-3, vitamin B6, iodine and choline are particularly important during this time.”
That’s why prenatal supplements are specially-tailored for women, and why a woman’s nutritional needs are different during that time of her life compared to later years.
If you’re expecting, or even planning on getting pregnant soon, talk to your doctor about what nutritional changes and supplements you will need, Holiday recommended.
Paying attention to your changing nutritional needs as you go through each stage of life will help you get the nutrients you need through your food or supplements.
Need some help? Look for prepackaged supplements that are designed for your age and gender, like the Nutrilite™ Men’s Pack and the Nutrilite Women’s Pack.
†This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.