Why You Should Stop Stressing About Men's vs. Women's Multivitamins
At this point, there's no real doubt that taking a multivitamin is a good idea. Scientific research1 clearly shows that Americans don't consume nearly enough of quite a few crucial nutrients—and that taking a multivitamin can help to close those nutrient gaps and help minimize insufficiencies for essential vitamins and minerals.*
"There are many reasons why we don't get enough nutrients through food intake—one being the convenience of fast food paired with our busy lives," says dietitian and health counselor Ella Davar, R.D., CDN. "Additionally, there is a growing concern about our soil quality and its nutrient deficiency due to mono-crop farming, which leads to poor diversity of micronutrients and a lack of microelements that are beneficial for our health."
And then there are just some nutrients for which it's genuinely hard to get enough from food daily (vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, etc.).
In addition to these micronutrients, a truly thoughtfully formulated multivitamin may also provide various botanical bioactives that offer incremental benefits for various areas of health (from cognition and longevity to immunity and beauty), making this seemingly simple supplement routine a powerful daily tool for supporting our long-term health and well-being.*
With a million and one different multivitamin options out there—particularly a wide variety of formulas for men and women of different ages and with different health goals—you might worry about whether the bottle or jar in your cabinet is truly the ideal option for you.
At mbg, we believe that multivitamins don't have to be so darn complicated (and should be more inclusive via a comprehensive formula).
Don't stress about taking the right men's or women's multi.
Given our biological differences, it's certainly not an earthshaking concept that men and women have different nutritional needs—but it's not just sex that determines our nutritional requirements, according to Davar. A number of individual factors, including body size, lifestyle, and specific health concerns, all shape our unique needs.
And while we should keep our sex- and age-related needs and other individual factors in mind when thinking about our dietary pattern and supplement routines, we probably don't need to get as hung up on finding the perfect men's or women's multivitamin in the crowd of options.
"Adult multivitamins have been overcomplicated and overly fractionated in the market," says mbg vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN. "Brands who wanted to diversify their portfolios to make more money started offering multis for women versus men, young versus old, active versus not active, the list goes on."
Thing is, men and women do have some differing nutritional needs (though they're slight when it comes to micronutrients like vitamins and minerals); many of the heavily marketed multi products out there don't really reflect them. "In reality, many 'for her' versus 'for him' multivitamin formulas have negligible differences," Ferira says.
She goes on to say, "Just because a particular multi sprinkles a negligible level of lycopene or saw palmetto in a multivitamin doesn't make it a 'male' formula by association. It's hard to fit relevant, clinically researched amounts of herbs in a multivitamin."*
Not to mention, the differences in multi formulas can sometimes be the opposite of helpful. "First and foremost, the vitamins and minerals in the formula should make sense," Ferira says. "Some multivitamin brands do silly things like cut the iron out completely for men and older adults (who still have daily iron needs, mind you) or include less or no calcium in a men's formula (who have bone density needs and the same exact daily calcium needs as women, mind you)."
In fact, as a dietitian, Ferira used to routinely recommend that her male clients take multivitamins marketed toward females because the latter formulas were more complete and featured helpful amounts of essential minerals like calcium. True story. Now that mbg's ultimate multivitamin+ exists, she points everyone—women and men—to this one comprehensive and premium formula. So much easier.
So, what's your move, then? "For most people who struggle to meet their nutrient needs through food, it is more important to take a multivitamin regularly than to stress over getting the 'right' men's or women's multivitamin because of the minor differences of the dosages," says Davar.
Ferira ultimately prefers a "genderless, ageless multivitamin/mineral supplement that's truly comprehensive, high-potency, premium, clean, and supports all adults and their daily nutrient and whole-body health."
Who should take a specialized multivitamin?
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule—and certain groups of adults should opt for a multivitamin specifically formulated to meet their needs.
"A specialized multivitamin, for example for prenatal support in women trying to get pregnant or who are pregnant, should feature higher levels of key nutrients, particularly iron, calcium, vitamin D3, iodine, and certain B vitamins (e.g., folic acid), on top of the baseline full array of vitamins and minerals in a regular multi,"* Ferira says.
The same goes for people with specific dietary restrictions and cultural practices related to food. "Vegan multi formulas, for example, are not only possible but sometimes some of the best and cleanest multivitamins on the market," highlights Ferira. "I think it's important for these offerings to exist."
Of course, we're talking about adults here—and since children and teens have different nutritional needs depending on their age, they should take a multivitamin formulated with those needs in mind.
Despite the myriad men's and women's multivitamins out there vying for your attention, many of these products aren't all that unique from one another—and don't necessarily deliver the full array of nutrients your body needs.
mbg created our ultimate multivitamin+ to address this—and to revolutionize the daily staple with a high-potency vegan formula that delivers 33 premium ingredients at doses beneficial for men and women alike. It's a complete, next-generation multi that makes supporting daily nutrition and whole-body health simple for all adults.*
Of course, certain circumstances (such as trying to conceive, pregnancy, and the postpartum period) significantly affect nutrient needs, in which case taking a specialized pre/postnatal multivitamin is a totally warranted and important move.*
Lauren Del Turco, CPT is a freelance health and wellness writer, editor, and content strategist who covers everything from nutrition to mental health to spirituality. Del Turco is also an ACE-certified personal trainer. She graduated from The College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing. When she’s not on deadline, you’ll find Del Turco hiking with her dogs, experimenting with new plant-based recipes, or curled up with a book and tea.