The need for several nutrients, such as zinc, chromium, riboflavin, niacin, choline, thiamine, and vitamins A, C, and K, is slightly higher in men than in women. Most of our nutrient needs remain fairly stable over the years. For example, starting at age 14, healthy boys and girls, men and women, 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.
Women need more specific vitamins and minerals compared to men, Hahn said. The truth is that men, women, children and older people have different needs when it comes to multivitamins. While we all need the same types of nutrients, our age- and gender-specific demographics influence the amounts in which those nutrients are needed. Because some vitamins and minerals are toxic to children at certain levels, they are minimized (or omitted entirely) to help prevent accidental overdose, since the child may think that the vitamin is candy.
Interestingly, although a pregnant woman needs additional calcium, many prenatal vitamins do not contain additional amounts of this mineral. Because of the monthly loss of this mineral throughout the menstrual cycle, young women need more iron than men between the ages of 14 and 50, according to current dietary guidelines for Americans. The role of vitamins in promoting good health and preventing diseases is now recognized. However, in addition to these obvious differences, the main difference between the vitamins that are made for children is also the amount of certain nutrients that are included.
The main difference between a multivitamin supplement for postmenopausal women is that it contains less iron than those of younger women, but it is likely that they contain additional calcium to help protect bones and prevent osteoporosis. On average, women need between 1600 and 2200 calories a day, while men need between 2000 and 3200 calories a day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Because of the hormonal changes associated with menstruation and motherhood, women are more susceptible than men to bone weakening and osteoporosis. Some vitamins for men and women may also contain higher concentrations of compounds that are believed to help prevent certain gender-specific types of cancer.
The exceptions are the need to supplement most vitamins and folate in pregnant women and for vitamin D and calcium in older people. Both men and women need approximately 400 micrograms of folic acid, vitamin B, but the DRIs specifically recommend that all women of child-bearing age take a multivitamin complex with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid to prevent brain and spinal cord defects in the growing fetus. Women should ensure that they choose foods that meet their caloric needs and that provide them with the vitamins and minerals they need for optimal health.