difference between menís and womenís multivitamins? If a
woman takes a formulation designated for men, will her voice
lower an octave? Will a young manís hair turn gray if he
ingests a supplement for men over 50?
dreary days of winter cause me to wonder about such things.
Truth is, males and females ó at certain stages of life ó
do have some varying nutrient needs. And if we need a
multivitamin supplement (not everyone does), it helps to be
guided in the right direction. But that probably doesnít
mean dire consequences for a man who accidentally pops one of
his wifeís prenatal vitamins.
there: During pregnancy, especially in the early weeks, a
woman needs additional folate ó a B-vitamin vital to the
formation of the fetal brain and spinal column. (We all need
folate but itís especially essential during pregnancy.)
Prenatal vitamins provide extra amounts of this nutrient plus
more iron for the task of baby building. Some prenatal
formulas also contain omega-3 fats from fish that may help
with brain development.
although a pregnant woman needs extra calcium, many prenatal
vitamins do not contain extra amounts of this mineral.
Thatís because, during pregnancy, a womanís body can
absorb twice as much calcium. So the recommendation stays the
same whether a woman is pregnant or not: 1300 milligrams a day
for 14-18 year old ladies; 1000 milligrams a day for women
19-50. Once a woman hits the big 51, she needs 1200 milligrams
of calcium from food and supplements combined. So do men over
the age of 70.
women, the biggy is iron. Because of the monthly loss of this
mineral through the menstrual cycle, young ladies need more
iron than men from the age of 14 to 50, according to the
current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. As she approaches
menopause, a woman needs less iron. Multivitamin/mineral
formulas for older women may supply half the iron of other
preparations. And many vitamin/mineral supplements for older
men have no extra iron at all due to the risk for some men to
accumulate excess amounts of this mineral.
Most of our
nutrient needs stay fairly stable over the years. For example,
from age 14 on, healthy boys and girls, men and women all need
similar daily doses of potassium, vitamin E and selenium. And
men generally need slightly higher amounts of vitamin C, zinc
and certain B-vitamins than women.
Vitamin D is
another nutrient with the same dosage recommendation for all
of us until the age of 70. After that, our skin is less able
to convert sunshine to vitamin D (and we probably arenít
outdoors as much). Thatís why vitamin formulations for older
individuals may contain extra amounts of this nutrient.
thatís why some manufacturers now market sex- and
age-related multivitamins. Dosages can still vary, however.
Stick with reliable well-known brands.