Men and women have slightly different needs in terms of vitamins, but they're mostly the same. Gearing a multivitamin toward men means increasing micronutrients that the average man lacks. The best men's vitamin should contain more of those vitamins than the average multivitamin.
Many people consider taking a daily vitamin part of a healthy lifestyle. The thought of being deficient in a crucial micronutrient is scary, but the reality is that most people in developed countries get enough of most of these nutrients in their diets.
Dangers of Too Many Vitamins
Before you rush out to buy a bottle of multivitamins, keep in mind that you might not be deficient in any vitamins. That means you're unnecessarily putting more in your body than you need.
Water soluble vitamins like the B vitamins are easy to flush out of your system. As long as you stay hydrated, your body can deal with the excess amounts. It's more likely that you'd take too much of fat-soluble vitamins, because they stay stored in the fat in your body.
The fat-soluble vitamins you need to watch out for are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
There's an upper limit for each of these vitamins, which is the maximum amount you should have each day. Avoid multivitamins that exceed that number. According to Consumer Labs, the upper limit for adults for each fat soluble vitamin is:
- 3,000 micrograms for vitamin A
- 4,000 international units of vitamin D
- 1,100 to 1,500 international units of vitamin E
- No upper limit for vitamin K has been established.
With that being said, your risk for consuming too many vitamins is low. It's more likely that they simply won't improve your health. A study published in 2017 in the scientific journal Nutrition showed that over 10 years, there weren't any negative health effects for the subjects taking multivitamins.
Are There Benefits to Multivitamins?
Studies are still conflicted on the health benefits of multivitamins. The effects of multivitamins on heart health seem to fall short. In 2018, a meta analysis of multiple studies published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes concluded that there's no benefit for heart health from taking multivitamins.
Read more: Do Multivitamins Really Work?
Brain function may not benefit from multivitamins either. A 2015 study published in Diet and Nutrition in Dementia and Cognitive Decline showed that there was a slight benefit to memory for healthy adults. The researchers also showed that vitamins didn't improve dementia. The benefits for brain function are small, if any.
Do You Need Multivitamins?
A 2016 study published in Nutrition shows that multivitamins can improve health in people who don't get enough nutrients through diet. The same study says that people who have proper diets don't need the high doses of the vitamins that many supplements contain.
To find out if you're low in a specific vitamin, check with your doctor. If you're not deficient in any vitamins, taking a supplement is probably not worth the money.
Vitamin D Requirements for Men
The only vitamin humans can make naturally is vitamin D. Ironically, many people are deficient in this vitamin. A 2015 study published in Nutrition looked at the gender differences in vitamin D requirements.
They found that, generally, women were more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than men. They also found that there was a link between vitamin D deficiency and coronary artery disease in women, but not as much in men.
Gender Differences in Vitamin Requirements
While men and women don't differ very much in their nutritional requirements, there are a few differences, according to the National Academies' Food and Nutrition Board.
Their vitamin requirements show that men need more vitamin A, C, K, B1, B3 and B6 than women. In addition, men need more of a nutrient called choline, which is produced by the liver but not in enough quantity to fulfill your daily requirements.
A separate study, published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism showed that healthy men were typically deficient in vitamin B12. That means men tend to need more of all the B vitamins. If your doctor says you're deficient in B vitamins, you can take a B complex supplement that provides high doses of these vitamins.
Most multivitamins contain all the vitamins and minerals that men need slightly more of. For that reason you probably don't need a specific multivitamin for men, and a normal multivitamin will suffice. However, some men's multivitamins are particularly high in those vitamins, and, as long as they're not more expensive than a regular multivitamin, are worthwhile.
Roundup of Men's Multivitamins
As long as it's high in vitamins A, C, K, B1, B3, B6 and B12, the supplement works for men. In addition, it should have relatively high levels of choline, as mentioned.
This vitamin supplement has everything but choline. While that's not optimal for men, it certainly comes close. If you need choline, you can also get it from your diet. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains, nuts and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli all contain choline.
GNC Men's Vitamins
GNC is a large supplement store and it carries it's own GNC brand men's vitamins. It has all the vitamins that men need and it contains choline.
Be wary, though, that this supplement contains rather large amount of vitamins. For example, it has 3,333 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin B1. That's an incredible amount, but luckily your body can get rid of it through urine.
Vitamin Shoppe One Daily Men's
The Vitamin Shoppe men's multivitamin contains all the essential vitamins, but in lesser amounts than the GNC brand. The only exception is choline, which is over twice the amount of the GNC brand. If you're worried about taking too many vitamins, try this brand.
Do Your Research
Some well-known vitamin brands have products geared toward men. However, the branding doesn't necessarily mean that they're good for men. Some are missing key vitamins that men need, such as vitamins A, B1 and B3. As a consumer, you should read the packaging on labels before buying products like these.
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Vitamins
- National Institutes of Health: Choline
- Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism: Vitamin B12 Deficiency and the Role of Gender: A Cross-Sectional Study of a Large Cohort.
- CVS: One A Day Men's
- Target: NatureMade Men's
- GNC: GNC Mega Men
- Clinical Biochemist Reviews: Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Clinical Indications and Current Challenges for Chromatographic Measurement
- Consumer Labs: Recommended Daily Intakes and Upper Limits for Vitamins and Minerals
- Vitamin Shoppe: Vitamin Shoppe One Daily Men's Multivitamin & Multimineral With Vitamin D3
- ScienceDirect: Impact of Gender Difference on Vitamin D Status and Its Relationship With the Extent of Coronary Artery Disease
- Nature: Dietary Supplements and Disease Prevention — A Global Overview
- Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes
- ScienceDirect: Chapter 75 - Multivitamin Supplementation and Cognitive Performance: An Overview of Current Evidence
- Science Direct: Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements: Rationale and Safety – A Systematic Review