Men vs. Women:
Differences in Nutritional Requirements
Written by Gloria Tsang, RD
Published in Oct 2006; Updated in Oct 2007
(HealthCastle.com) Women love talking about diet and nutrition. That's probably the reason that most of the diet information out there caters to women. But what about men? Do men need to worry about osteoporosis? Do they need to worry about anemia? Let's take a look at a few major nutrients for men and women.
Nutritional Needs: Women vs. Men
Women: Calcium is important for women, particularly in lowering the risk of osteoporosis. A diet high in calcium and Vitamin D has been proven to lower risk of bone fractures. In addition, calcium also plays a role in regulating blood pressure. How much for women? For women under 50 years old, the recommended amount is 1,000 milligrams. For women over 50, the recommendation increases to 1,200 mg.
Men: Calcium is also important in lowering the risk of osteoporosis in men, but too much of it may be harmful. Studies have shown that men who consumed high levels of calcium from foods and supplements have an increased risk of prostate cancer. How much for men? For all ages, the recommended amount is 800 mg. That is equivalent to not more than 3 servings of dairy per day.
For more details, read Dairy and Prostate Cancer
Women: For an obvious reason, women require more iron than men. This is because of women's monthly menstrual cycles. Signs of iron-deficiency anemia include fatigue, inability to concentrate and difficulty in breathing. If you experience these symptoms, do not self-prescribe iron supplements. Instead, always speak to your doctor. There are different types of anemia and it is not always due to low iron stores. How much for women? For women under 50, the recommended amount is 18 milligrams per day. For post-menopausal women, the amount goes down to eight milligrams. This difference is one of the reasons why it's important to choose an age-appropriate formula if you are taking multi-vitamin supplements. If you are in doubt, speak to your pharmacist.
Men: Men need iron too, but again not too much. Studies conducted in the 1980s have shown that men with high iron stores were associated with increased risk of heart attacks. Despite that later studies cannot reproduce the same results, it is difficult to ignore the possible association. How much for men? The recommended amount is 8 mg for men of all ages. It is important to choose an age-appropriate as well as gender-appropriate formula if you are taking multi-vitamin supplements. If you are in doubt, speak to your pharmacist.
For more details, read Iron Rich Foods
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Women: Omega 3 Fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids, have been shown to help lower triglycerides and increase the good HDL cholesterol. They may also act as an anticoagulant to prevent blood from clotting. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in almost all fish, but they are particularly high in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, and herring. They can also be found in nuts and seeds, as well as vegetable cooking oils. How much for Women? There is no official nutritional recommendation on how much omega 3 fatty acids women should eat. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times a week. For individuals with high triglycerides, the AHA recommends two to four grams of EPA + DHA per day provided as capsules such as fish oil or omega 3 supplements under a physician's care.
Men: Omega 3 fatty acids benefit men too, but only the marine kind from fish oil. Vegetable omega 3, also known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) may not be good for men. Although it is still controversial, high intake of ALA has been linked to higher risk of prostate cancer.
How much for Men? Until more is known, men should avoid taking concentrated ALA supplements such as flaxseed oil pills.
For more details, read Flaxseed vs Flaxseed Oil Pills
Women: Protein provides energy. It is also important in growth and repair. As a result of the high-protein diet hype, many people eat more protein than they require. Excess protein accelerates calcium loss in urine. Therefore, women with a high risk of osteoporosis should be careful not to eat too much protein. How much for women? As a rule of thumb, the average requirement is calculated based on 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For instance, a 130 pound (59 kg) woman would need 47 grams of protein daily. If you are an athlete, your protein requirement will increase.
Men: Men require more protein, simply because they weigh more. As mentioned above, excess protein accelerates calcium loss in urine. Therefore, men with a high risk of kidney stones should watch their protein intake. How much for men? The same formula applies to men. The average requirement is calculated based on 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight. Therefore, a 165 pound (75 kg) man would need 60 grams of protein daily. In general, both healthy men and women (regardless of body size) will do fine with 60 grams of protein a day. That is equivalent to eight ounces of meat. Again if you are an athlete, your protein requirement will increase.
For more details, read Protein Needs for Athletes
Women: : We all know the benefits of fiber! Fiber not only prevents constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulosis, it can also help reduce the risk for some chronic diseases such as colon and breast cancer. In addition, fiber may help lower bad LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, fiber can help lower blood sugar to help better manage diabetes. How much for women? Women under 50 require 25 grams of fiber, and those over 50 require 21 grams of fiber. That's equivalent to at least two cups of vegetables and 1 1/2 cups of fruit.
Men: Men require more fiber than women. Fiber requirements are calculated to provide the greatest protection against heart disease and are based on energy intake. Men in general need more calories, so they need more fiber. How much for men? Men under 50 require 38 grams of fiber, and those over 50 require 30 grams of fiber. That's equivalent to at least three cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit.
For more details, read Fiber 101