Do men and women fare better on certain diets? Not exactly: “The truth of the matter is, it really depends on the person,” Robin Foroutan, a dietitian and the national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Fox News. A person’s activity levels, family history, and genes can all determine what particular diet they are best suited for.
Instead, the main difference between men and women is in calorie needs, Rabia Rahman, assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University, told Fox News. Men tend to have more lean muscle, which is more metabolically active — meaning men burn more calories even at rest, and thus have higher calorie needs, she explained.
Still, there are some nutrients that deserve a bit of extra attention. While men and women should both strive to get adequate amounts of each nutrient, there are a few in particular that they should take extra care to get:
1. Calcium (Women)
Women usually require more calcium for bone health, Litsa Georgakilas, an R.D. and LDN at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, told Fox News. Georgakilas noted that dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are all good sources of calcium, along with foods such as almonds and fortified cereals.
2. Zinc (Men)
Zinc is important for testosterone production and immune function, Foroutan said, and can be found in sources like beef and lamb, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds. But don’t stress too much about this nutrient: Your zinc levels would likely have to be extremely low to have an impact on your sexual function or reproduction organs, Rahman told Fox News.
3. Iron (Women)
Women often require more iron to replace what is lost during menstruation, Georgakilas explained. Red meat is a good source of iron, along with certain legumes like lentils, or leafy greens. But, Georgakilas said, if you’re getting your iron through plant-based foods, make sure to add in a source of Vitamin C — like lemon juice or a citrus vinaigrette — because iron from plant sources can be harder for the body to utilize on its own.
4. Selenium (Men)
Selenium is important for certain detoxification processes in the body, Foroutan noted, which can help men detoxify compounds, like the hormone estrogen, appropriately. Selenium can be found in foods like Brazil nuts, seafood, grass-fed beef, and organ meat.