Spring fatigue? Time to wake up your liver.
How useful are dietary supplements specifically made for women or men? Anyone seeking information about dietary supplements in a drugstore, pharmacy or on the internet will soon notice that many products are aimed at both men and women. But how useful are these supplements in reality? Do women and men really benefit equally from the same dietary supplements? Or is a gender-specific combination of vital substances a better choice for promoting an active lifestyle? We provide answers.
Nutritional supplements contain vital substances that are also present in our diets – but in concentrated form and often in higher doses. They can be roughly divided into monopreparations and combined preparations. A monopreparation contains only one vital substance, for example zinc or vitamin D3.These are suitable – depending on the dosage – for women and men alike.
This may not be the case for combined preparations. This is because women and men do not necessarily benefit equally from all vital substances. This is mainly due to gender-specific differences.
There are many physical differences between men and women. As a result, they have different requirements – including in terms of nutrient supply. Here are some examples:
There are special dietary supplements that take these characteristics into account.
Some vital substances have a particular effect on male fertility and can promote good muscle function. There are also vitamins, minerals and plant extracts that can influence the homocysteine metabolism and improve sleep quality.
L-arginine is a non-essential amino acid. It promotes muscle development by releasing growth hormones1. The body can produce L-arginine itself. However, too much stress, illnesses and physical exertion can prevent the body from producing enough. Dietary supplements containing L-arginine may play a supportive role.
L-arginine in combination with pine bark extract may also promote blood flow, good oxygen supply and healthy blood pressure. This is shown by a study2 from Japan.
Vitamin B6 is involved in the regulation of hormone activity. Selenium is important for normal sperm production. In particular, Vitamin D3 and zinc play a role in maintaining normal testosterone levels. A study3 from the USA shows that a good supply of vitamin D3 has a positive effect on testosterone levels. Zinc deficiency4 can, in turn, have a negative impact on sperm quality and fertility.
The amino acid L-arginine is also an important base material for hormones. Especially in combination with pine bark extract, it has been shown to improve male sexual function, according to a study5 from Bulgaria.
Homocysteine is formed when the body breaks down the amino acid methionine. For this to work smoothly, the body needs vitamins B6, B12 and B9. If the body does not have enough of these vitamins, the level of homocysteine rises.
A high level of homocysteine is considered a risk factor6 for cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis. Men tend to have higher homocysteine levels than women. This is due to oestrogens, which women produce more of than men.
Saffron extract can have a positive effect on the sleep quality of men. This is confirmed by a study7 from Austria. Scientists randomly divided 36 men into two groups. One group received 14 milligrams of saffron extract twice a day for 28 days, while the other received a placebo. The quality of sleep improved significantly for those men who took saffron extract.
Which vital substances can women in particular benefit from? There are a number of vitamins, minerals and plant extracts that can promote an active lifestyle in women. Here are some important vital substances.
Mental functions include thinking, perceiving, learning, awareness and memory. Different vital substances can have a positive effect on these. Vitamins B6 and B12 in particular contribute to normal mental function.
Chronic stress can impair mental functions. Special medicinal plants, known as adaptogens, can improve ability to adapt to stress. Ashwagandha, also known as winter cherry, is one of them.
The efficacy of ashwagandha has already been evaluated in several high-quality studies, one of which was conducted in India8. The people who took ashwagandha for 60 days had lower cortisol levels compared to the placebo group. Cortisol is a stress hormone. In addition, people in the ashwagandha group rated their quality of life more highly.
Hyaluronic acid is an important component of connective tissue. It is present between the cells and makes the skin elastic and firm. However, with age, the amount of hyaluronic acid in the cells decreases.
Scientists from Greece9 and Switzerland have shown that hyaluronic acid can delay the ageing process of the skin. Vitamin C, manganese and zinc also contribute to the maintenance of normal connective tissue.
Sleep disorders have been on the rise for many years now. Studies have shown time and again that women are affected more often than men – for example, in the study by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Leipzig10. One reason for this is hormonal fluctuations.
Some plant extracts are proven to be effective for combating sleep disorders. One of these is ashwagandha11. A good supply of vitamins B6, B12 and B9 (folic acid) and iron also helps to reduce tiredness. Green tea extracts can also help counteract tiredness due to their caffeine content.
Oxidative stress means that too many free radicals have accumulated in the body. Inflammation in the body, as well as cigarette smoke, UV rays and environmental pollutants promote the formation of free radicals. They damage cells. This increases the risk of certain diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Ageing also has a negative effect on free radicals.
There are a number of plant extracts that are proven to neutralise free radicals. These include saffron12, curcumin13 and ginger14. Coenzyme Q1015, a vitamin-like substance, is able to bind free radicals.
Some vital substances are equally important for maintaining an active lifestyle among both women and men. We demonstrate below which vitamins, minerals and plant extracts have a positive effect on the immune system and may contribute to normal energy metabolism.
Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12 in particular contribute to normal energy metabolism. Among the trace elements, manganese is extremely important. Fatigue and exhaustion may be a sign that the energy metabolism is not working optimally.
A good supply of vitamins and minerals is the foundation of a strong immune system. There are also a series of plant extracts that can have a positive effect on the immune system. These include, for example, polyphenols16 from pomegranate seeds. They have an anti-inflammatory and cell-protecting effect.
Scientists from Houston17 were also able to show that polyphenols directly counteract viruses. Pomegranate polyphenols killed influenza A viruses in the mouth and throat.
Ginger can also have a positive effect on the immune system. This has been confirmed by a study18 carried out by scientists at the University of Munich. The tart taste of ginger comes from its 6-gingerol content. It has been shown that this triggers processes in the saliva at the molecular level that activate the immune system.
Can women and men really benefit from gender-specific dietary supplements? The answer to this is quite obvious: yes! When it comes to nutrient supply, there are differences between men and women. This is why men and women do not benefit equally from all vital substances. A combination of vital substances adapted to gender can contribute to an active lifestyle. We have presented a handful of important vitamins, minerals and plant extracts in this article.