Transmasculine Individuals Show Increased Dietary Supplement Use

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More than 1 million people in the United States identify as transgender; however, there is limited research on nutrition-related health outcomes for transgender people. To narrow the research gap, Mason MS, Nutrition student Eli Kalman-Rome investigated common motivations of dietary supplement use in transmasculine people. The study defined transmasculine as people on the transgender and gender-nonbinary spectrum who were assigned female at birth.

Transmasculine people reported a higher use of dietary supplements (65%) compared to the total U.S. population (22.5%), according to the study. 90% of transmasculine participants reported using supplements at some point in their life.

"The lack of research on the nutritional needs of transgender people, including transgender/nonbinary transmasculine people navigating social or medical transitioning and the findings of this study highlight the need for population-level research that ensures that nutritional advice is appropriate for the affected communities," said Kalman-Rome, first author on the paper. Associate Professor Kerri LaCharite Interim Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies Lilian de Jonge, and adjunct professor Taylor Wallace were co-authors on the paper.

Transmasculine volunteers completed an online survey detailing dietary supplement use, motivations, and demographic information. General population data was taken from the 20217-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Transmasculine people reported using nutritional supplements in unique ways as compared to the general population; differences observed included the numbers of supplements used on average, participants' reasons for taking supplements, and the variety of supplements taken.

Top reported dietary supplements used by transmasculine people included multivitamins (52%), melatonin (52%), vitamin D (46%), vitamin C (35%), fish oil (33%), B-vitamins or B-complex (31%), iron (29%), and green tea (29%). Participants reported the top reasons for dietary supplements included "improving overall health" (60.4%) and "maintaining health" (54.2%).

"It is important to understand the motivations and types of products being used by transmasculine people, as an increased risk of adverse events, due to use of exogenous testosterone, medications, and other factors, may be present," said de Jonge.

"Dietary Supplement Use in Transmasculine People: Results of an Online Survey of Volunteer Adults" was published online in the Journal of Dietary Supplements in February 2024. The study was not funded.

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