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What's the difference between multivitamins for men and for women?

Answer by:
David Kiefer, MD

Family Medicine, WebMD Medical Expert
University of Arizona, Tucson

The biggest difference is iron levels. Premenopausal women need much more iron than men. The reason: They lose significant amounts of iron from menstrual bleeding. After menopause, men's and women's iron requirements are the same. After menopause, women also need more calcium than men to preserve bone strength.

Some combination formulas designed specifically for men or women also add herbs that may have gender-specific benefits. But even among proponents of botanicals, there is controversy about whether it's wise to add them to multivitamins. Critics say the amount that can be added to a one-a-day type pill may not be enough to have any effect. So beware of paying extra for multivitamins that advertise added herbs.

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