Can I take prenatal vitamins if I’m not pregnant?

If you are pregnant, you already know the importance of taking a prenatal vitamin. it’s pretty much the first thing the nurse will tell you when you call to schedule your first pregnancy appointment. If you’re not pregnant, there are reasons you might be wondering if you can take prenatal vitamins when you’re not pregnant. Maybe you’re hoping for the shiny hair and strong nails common in pregnant women (sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s more due to hormones than vitamins) or maybe you think if it’s It’s safe for pregnancy, it’s safe for you too.

Here we talked to two OB/GYNs about what happens if you take prenatal vitamins when you’re not pregnant.

Can I take prenatal vitamins if I’m not pregnant?

First of all, there is a very good reason why you would choose to take prenatal consultations when you are not pregnant, and that is if you hope to get pregnant within the next three months or so. “Prenatal vitamins are safe to take when you’re not pregnant, and it’s actually a good idea to start prenatals before pregnancy,” Monique Brotman, a board-certified OB/GYN, told Romper.

However, if you’re not pregnant and breastfeeding or trying to conceive, there’s no real reason why it would make sense to take these supplements, although they’re probably basically free. danger (except some rare events).

Side effects of taking prenatal formula during pregnancy

“Prenatal vitamins are specifically formulated for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, or women trying to conceive,” says Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, dual board certified in OB/GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine. She says the three main nutrients a prenatal usually has are folic acid, calcium, and iron (some skip iron because it can be tough on the stomach).

“Women who do not fall into the above categories [TTC, pregnant, nursing] should consult with their physician to determine if supplementation of these specific nutrients is necessary, based on underlying comorbidities,” says Gaither. “As a rule of thumb, unless you are one of the aforementioned cohort, you should acquire all necessary nutrients from a healthy diet. High levels of certain nutrients over an extended period of time may be more harmful than helpful. For example, and it’s rare, but if you’re not pregnant, too much folic acid could mask the signs of vitamin B12 deficiency.

If you don’t eat much and you think prenatal will provide you with the nutrients you need, you will quickly find yourself lacking in essential nutrients, because even prenatals only contain a fraction of the nutritional requirements you need per day. On the other hand (and this is why pregnant women are not recommended to take two prenatals the next day if they accidentally forget to take it the day before) taking too much could lead to stomach problems, especially for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) found in prenatals.

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Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins

“Prenatal vitamins help with overall health and well-being by ensuring that all essential vitamins and minerals are ingested,” Brotman told Romper. Although you don’t need a prenatal vitamin if you’re not pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive, there are great benefits to taking prenatal vitamins daily if you are.

“To reduce the risk of having a child with neural tube defects, women who are trying to become pregnant are advised to take 400 to 800 micrograms of [folic acid] every day,” Gaither told Romper. Iron supports the development of the placenta, and Gaither says the recommended iron intake is 27 mg per day. “It’s important in the production of red blood cells, and too little can lead to iron deficiency anemia.” As for calcium, she says it’s important for bone development in the fetus and pregnant woman requires about 1000 mg/day. You may notice that your prenatal only contains 200 or 300 mg, as the rest of the daily requirement must be met through food.

If you accidentally buy prenatals and you’re not pregnant or have leftover pregnancy remnants, you’re probably wondering if you can take prenatals when you’re not pregnant. It’s not the end of the world taking them, but you won’t get any real benefit other than what you would get from any other vitamin. Also, prenatals are often more expensive than their counterparts, so it doesn’t really make sense.


Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, dual certified in OB/GYN and maternal-fetal medicine

Monique Brotman, certified OB/GYN

Patricia J. Callender