According to John Gray, the famous relationship author, men are from Mars and women from Venus. But are men and women also worlds apart when it comes to nutritional needs? The answer is that men and women clearly have much more in common than not. But I've also come to believe that the differences between the two sexes are still sufficient enough to warrant some gender-specific attention when it comes to nutrition.
Supplements for Women’s Bones
Osteoporosis affects a larger percentage of women than men, so the minerals that boost bone health, such as calcium, silica, boron and magnesium, are of particular importance to women. But how much calcium does a woman really need? I used to recommend 1,500 mg, yet research has shown that this amount is unnecessary to protect against fractures. Moreover, too much calcium and not enough magnesium can promote calcification and a stressed state in the tissues. So now I suggest no more than 750 mg of calcium daily from all sources, along with 200 to 600 mg of magnesium for a good balance.
Along with magnesium's influence on women's bone health, this mineral may also play a role in maintaining the female figure, since research has linked magnesium deficiency to increased abdominal girth. Any woman struggling with abdominal fat, therefore, should consider her magnesium intake.
Additional Supplements for Women
Research has shown that antioxidant intake is key to addressing women's common desire to maintain healthy, age-resistant skin. One Italian study, for instance, showed how a combination of lutein, vitamins C and E, and alpha lipoic acid helped protect lipids in dry, aging skin from oxidation and promote better skin hydration. Grape seed extract, silica, citrus bioflavonoids and biotin are also important. In particular, biotin, a member of the B complex family, helps improve brittle nails.
Certain antioxidants also support women's urinary tract health. Specifically, the proanthocyanidin compounds in cranberries have been shown to help protect against E. coli, the bacterial culprit in up to 90 percent of urinary tract infections. And finally, for women concerned with proper hormone balance, the plant compounds known as lignans have been proven helpful. Found in flaxseeds and sesame seeds, lignans act as phytoestrogens in the body, being converted in the gut into substances that help balance hormone levels.
The Best Supplements for Men
Prostate health is a primary nutritional driver for most men. There has been a lot of research done in this area and, as a result, many men focus on the established beneficial nutrients such as saw palmetto, zinc, lycopene and selenium. Other supporting compounds to consider are pumpkin seed extract (an excellent source of zinc), flower pollen and nettle root.
Both flower pollen and nettle root have been shown in research studies, either alone or in combination with saw palmetto or other herbals, to help reduce common lower urinary tract symptoms secondary to an enlarged prostate. Those symptoms include urinary frequency, urgency, awakening at night to urinate and decreased force of stream.
When it comes to preventing prostate cancer, it's been shown that supplements for men with vitamin E can lead to a lower risk of the disease. That's why I recommend a slightly higher level of vitamin E—including mixed tocopherols—for men than for women. I recommend supplements for women include 100 to 200 IUs a day compared to 200 to 400 IUs for men, comprised of the primary vitamin E constituent, alpha tocopherol. Anything over 400 IUs just makes expensive urine and may also cause harm. I've been writing about the "pro-oxidant" effect of vitamin E for years and, consequently, have never recommended more than 400 IUs per day. Also keep in mind that including mixed tocopherols with alpha is important because they protect alpha tocopherol from oxidation.
Supplements for Men, Supplements for Women
To better address these key gender-specific nutrient needs, I recently decided to transform my daily multi-vitamin and mineral formula from a "unisex" version into two gender-specific formulas. To be sure, both formulas are potently packed with my favorite supplements for men and women alike, such as high-dose B complexfor brain and nervous system health, and a blend of heart-smart nutrients like vitamin D (a solid 1,000 IUs' worth!), resveratrol, magnesium, citrus bioflavonoids, and green tea, olive leaf and grape seed extracts. Similarities aside, however, my new multi formulas feature specific ingredient and dosage differences to individually serve each sex as a solid foundational supplement for women and a supplement for men that can work synergistically with other targeted nutritional formulas.
WATCH: Dr. Sinatra Explains the Nutritional Supplements Everyone Should Take
Supplements for Men, Supplements for Women Transcript
Dr. Sinatra: What are the supplements everybody should take? Well, I get this question all the time, because there's enormous confusion out there. Well, look, the basic program is this: Everybody needs a gender-specific multivitamin, multi-mineral formula. Why? Well, a lot of us are short on multivitamins and especially minerals; magnesium, calcium, zinc, selenium; we need those minerals. And if you have a nice basic foundation program, that's the first place to start. But there's more. Now, if I was stranded on a desert island, I would want a few cases of CoEnzyme Q10, Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and carnitine to be washed ashore. Why? Because they're so important. Look, carnitine and CoQ10 are my twin pillars of healing. They are like Batman and Robin. They're so synergistic and they really support the health of your cells. They actually support the production of ATP in cells, which is really the energy of life. So, I love those two. And Omega-3's, oh, my gosh, Omega'-3's, everybody needs, because they really support heart health. So, in summary, my recommendations are very simple; a basic core multivitamin multi-mineral program, gender-specific, if possible, Omega-3's, Q10, and carnitine. That's the program you need.