Let’s be honest, selecting the ideal supplementations for your needs can be a pretty daunting task.
Just think about the vitamin aisle at your local supermarket… from cod liver oil to multivitamins and everything in between, it can be difficult to work out what you should be taking, when you should be taking it, and sometimes, why you should even be taking it in the first place (the answer is yes, by the way).
Whilst we’re huge advocates for supplementation (shock) and wholeheartedly recommend that you maximise your potential by including these in your diet, or at the very least, do some research into what your body could benefit from. (Psst... you could make a really good start in your research by taking a peak at our wealth of educational resources on Insight).
Aside from this, and once you've decided what your body could benefit from (whether that’s iron, protein, zinc or otherwise), we are more than aware that the rhetoric around supplementations and vitamins can be confusing. And we're here to tackle that problem head on.
So, to start us off, let’s take a look at existing vitamins and supplementations on the market.
The seven essential nutrients
We could talk for hours (and hours) about the range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that your body needs, but to keep things nice and simple, there are seven main classes of nutrients that your body needs for basic survival, regardless of age, gender, or any other biological or non-biological difference (but we’ll get more into that part, later).
The world of supplementations and vitamins
In an ideal world, we would all get the vitamins we need through our diet. Unfortunately, it’s not an ideal world. And for that reason, it’s true that nearly all of us should be supplementing our diets in some way or another, incorporating the above nutrients into our diets when and where we can.
What is included in a general multivitamin tablet?
Whilst multivitamins may vary from brand-to-brand or country-to-country, in general, a good quality multivitamin will include the following:
Whether you opt for the delicious, fruit-flavoured vitamins for you (or your loved ones), or would prefer to get everything out of the way with one chunky multivitamin every morning, one thing’s for sure: everyone needs to ensure that your body is properly fuelled.
The extent of your supplementation routine will likely depend on a few factors, including:
If that wasn’t confusing enough, there’s also another factor that might influence your decision to take (or not to take) vitamins, too.
The world of gendered supplementations
Like we’ve said, whilst it’s common knowledge that there are certain vitamins, nutrients and minerals that your body needs for basic functioning (you know, your carbs, your fats and proteins – amongst many others), one of the things that makes this minefield even more confusing is the differentiation between women’s supplements and men’s supplements.
And when it comes to gendered supplements, let’s face it. A lot of the time, as with other gendered products, they’re really not that hard to spot on the shelves.
The difference between men’s and women’s supplements
Que the images of a slender woman with bright white teeth, long flowing hair and glowing skin advertising hair, skin and nails collagen supplementations, stocked parallel to supplementation packaging covered in shades of grey and blue, with images of muscular males.
This presents a very valid question to the table: if we all need the same basic nutrients to function at a basic level – and a simple multivitamin can take care of this, then why do we need to supplement differently according to our gender? Marketing imagery and out-dated colour associations aside, let’s take a look at the science of these vitamins.
Let’s take a look at the science of gendered supplementations
Let’s get the facts out the way first, shall we? The Recommended Dietary Allowance (or RDA, for short), has been agreed on by The Institute of Medicine, that states the ideal levels for vitamins and minerals. These guidelines aren’t age or gender specific, and apply to us all.
Whilst research suggests that everyone benefits from ensuring that their diet and supplementation habits contain the previously mentioned seven nutrients, it’s often the case that gendered supplements prioritise certain vitamins and minerals for males and differing vitamins and minerals for females. Whilst biologically, it is true that men and women are different, and therefore may require different supplementations in some areas of health and wellness (for example, pregnant women may benefit from supplementations that healthy, adult male would not), on the whole, are our differences big enough to require an entirely different supplement?
Aside from general multivitamins that are (for some reason) marketed specifically towards women despite their ingredient’s lists being similar to that of their male-orientated counterpart, generally, women’s supplementations target one of three areas:
- Folic acid to assist in fertility
- Iron levels to prevent anaemia
- Collagen to support a combination of hair, skin, and nails
Again, aside from multivitamins that are specifically aimed at men, men’s supplementations generally focus on:
- Vitamin D to maintaining testosterone level and erectile dysfunction
- Protein to building strength and improve stamina
- Calcium for bone health
So, what is the difference between gender supplementations?
From the above, it’s clear that whilst there are areas of supplementation that sometimes (and during some times) different genders will benefit from, these supplementations are included in general multivitamins, which means that really – gender-specific supplementations just aren’t worth the hype.
Looks like you can get hold of all the nutrients you need through a balanced diet and a well-informed supplementation regime.
Big corp marketing department – 0
Innermosters – 1
Our understanding is simple. We’re all human, and we’re all different, and it’s important to consider that.
If you take any message from us, whether you’re considering a multivitamin, or gender-specific supplements such as women’s supplements or men’s supplements, make sure you talk with your doctor or even nutritionist about the changes you’re making to your diet, and which changes would be most beneficial for your health.
That’s the best way to go!
Don’t get caught up in gender supplements
It’s also important to consider that whilst you should be aiming to achieve a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle that enables you to achieve the required amount of each vitamin naturally, we know (and it’s been scientifically proven), that due to a number of factors, sometimes that just isn’t possible.
Furthermore, it’s clear that we may require different nutrients at different times in our lives, ie – a woman navigating her nutrition through pregnancy or menopause, or perhaps someone that is following a specific diet such as vegetarianism, so it’s important to tailor your supplementations to you, not your gender.