We’re all human, and we all need good nutrition to live a healthy and happy life. There’s no doubt a healthy salad is better for anyone than a cheeseburger. But biologically there are variations in what we all need to thrive.
Men and women are 98.5% identical in their DNA, and not too different in their macro-nutrient needs. But there are some subtleties that need to be accounted for, especially when we’re talking vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
As fun as it is to debate the behavioural & cultural differences between the sexes, that might best be left to the school playground. From a scientific perspective though, there are demonstrable biological differences between the nutritional needs of men and women.
As we’re all about personalising our nutrient intake, let’s have a look at how each gender should best balance their intake.
Calories and macronutrients
A person’s calorie requirement will differ depending on their body type and exercise level. As a general guideline, men need around 2500 calories per day to maintain body weight, compared to 2000 for women.
These calories should, of course, be balanced in a healthy diet. A large white chocolate mocha with whipped cream might contain 900 calories, and you really shouldn’t be drinking one of those each day, male or female.
In general, protein should provide around 15% of a healthy person’s dietary intake. This is mostly the same between the sexes, and can be increased when doing exercise specifically for muscle building. Overdoing it without good reason can be problematic; according to Harvard Medical School, “Excess dietary protein increases calcium loss in the urine, perhaps raising the risk for osteoporosis ("thin bones," more a worry for women) and kidney stones (a particular worry for men)”.
For a general balanced diet, 45-65% of calories should come from carbohydrates, of which most should be complex, high-fibre and unprocessed (whole-grains, brown rice, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables). Men need more fibre than women: at least 25g per day for women and 30 for men.
Total fat consumption should be kept below 30-35% of daily calorie intake.
Some high-fat, low carb diets (like Paleo or Ketogenic) recommend increased fat proportion significantly, at the expense of carbs and sugars. They can be a really effective way to lose weight in a healthy way, as the body adapts to burning more fat as fuel, but with an important caveat: this can’t be done casually. If you’re going to try one of these diets, seek advice from a qualified dietician and commit to it for a number of weeks before judging results. Otherwise your metabolism will be disrupted and it won’t feel good.
There are differences between men and women’s ideal intake of omega-3s, specifically that of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is potentially problematic for those with high risk of prostate cancer. This topic would be good to consult a doctor on.
The best nutritional supplements for men
Co-enzyme Q10 (also known as CoQ10 or Ubiquinol) is a powerful antioxidant that helps deliver energy to the cells. There’s evidence to show that supplementing CoQ10 can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attacks (which men tend to get more of), and increase male fertility. Levels of this co-enzyme in the body actually decrease as we age, so supplementing it is a sensible idea.
Selenium is an antioxidant mineral that plays an important part in the metabolism. It’s important for keeping a healthy thyroid gland as well as the heart and digestive functions. For men it’s a key part of reproductive health; in particular, spermatogenesis, the creation of sperm cells.
Zinc makes a really important contribution to male health and wellbeing.
This metallic element helps maintain the body’s ability to make over 300 different enzymes, repair cells, produce DNA, support the immune and reproductive systems, and more.
It’s a vital part of men’s reproductive abilities, their libido, and their ability to produce sufficient testosterone. Having sufficient zinc is crucial for those planning on having children.
Each of these supplements are available to add to your personalised stack of nourishments.
The best nutritional supplements for women
Without a doubt, women need more iron than men.
Iron is an important component in the production of haemoglobin, and plays a big part in transporting oxygen from the lungs around the body and creating energy from nutrients. Women lose a significant amount of iron during menstruation, and upkeep is important.
Low iron is a common nutritional deficiency, and leads to fatigue, weakness and difficulty concentrating. Supplementation is recommended for everyone, but particularly pregnant and menstruating women.
Women can consider adding our Iron supplement to their Nourish3D stack (provided with a lychee and lemon tasting chewable), as well as beetroot powder (chewable with a guava taste), which is high in iron as well as loads of other minerals.
Famously necessary for keeping teeth and bones strong, this mineral is also useful in various processes around the body. It helps send signals around the nervous system, and operate muscles. All women can benefit from calcium supplementation (it’s especially useful in preventing osteoporosis in women), and particularly those who are pregnant, for their health and that of their little one.
Finally, an all-rounder: many scientific sources say Vitamin D supplementation is vital for both men and women, due to the prevalence of insufficiency in many populations. It’s not always possible to get the optimum amount in our diets, and we’re at the mercy of climate when it comes to sunlight exposure. So adding it to a supplement stack is a good idea for pretty much anyone.