Pros and Cons for Taking Prenatal Vitamins When You Aren’t Pregnant
During pregnancy, babies who don’t receive enough vitamins can be born with neural, muscular and bone defects, among many other life-threatening problems. Whether you’re pregnant or not, a lack of proper nutrition is sure to cause various health problems in your life, if unchecked for long enough. You may have heard of the benefits associated with taking prenatal vitamins while not pregnant, such as thicker hair and stronger nails.
While this is true to an extent, taking in high-levels of certain nutrients may actually be more detrimental to your health than helpful. According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy, well-balanced diet can provide all the necessary nutrition for a single human being without the need for multi-vitamins.
If you’re on the fence about taking prenatal vitamins, even though you aren’t pregnant, here are some pros and cons to help you make a more informed decision.
- For women who are hoping to become pregnant in the near future, taking prenatal vitamins before conception gives you a head start on creating a healthy environment within your body. Prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, which is absolutely essential to the development of the baby’s spinal cord and brain. Many doctors suggest taking prenatal vitamins, but it’s okay if you are more comfortable taking a multivitamin instead – as long as you are getting at least 400 mcg of folic acid per day.
- There are also some distinct advantages to taking prenatal vitamins even after the baby is born, during the breastfeeding stage. It’s adding additional healthy supplements to your already nutritious breast milk. It is possible to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet, but that can be difficult when you are taking care of a baby full-time.
- Taking in too much folic acid can bring unwanted side effects, like digestive problems, loss of appetite, bloating, sleep disturbance, depression and a whole laundry list of other problems. Keeping aware of your folate intake is the best approach to curb any discomfort.
- Prenatal vitamins are also rich in iron, which is generally a good thing, but taking the amount contained inside a prenatal vitamin would be too much if you aren’t also supplying a baby. Having an intake of too much iron can lead to vomiting, constipation, and nausea.
- Taken alone, there isn’t a sufficient daily amount of calcium inside of prenatal supplements. Prenatal vitamins are supposed to supplement the calcium you obtain from your diet and typically contain only 200 to 300 mg of calcium, while your body needs around 1000 mg daily, if you are under 50. It isn’t a good idea to rely solely on the vitamin intake of prenatal vitamins, meaning you will likely have to take other supplements.
While you can see that taking prenatal vitamins when not pregnant isn’t ideal, it doesn’t mean that it is impossible. As long as it is well-maintained and managed, you should be able to successfully utilize prenatal vitamins to your advantage.