ZocdocAnswersAre prenatal vitamins safe to take when you are not pregnant and don't intend to become pregnant?

Question

Are prenatal vitamins safe to take when you are not pregnant and don't intend to become pregnant?

A friend told me she's been taking prenatal vitamins in place of a multivitamins. It has alot of great things like vitamins A, C, D, and E, Folic acid, calcium, B-12, Iron, and others. I've also heard that there is too much of some of these vitamins, however, if you are not pregnant.

Answer

When you are thinking about taking any over-the-counter supplement, multivitamin, or herbal remedy, it is important to do your research. While vitamins and supplements are inspected by specific agencies, they do not undergo the same research and safety processes that prescription medications do in the United States. Before taking any supplement, be sure to read the label for the specific ingredients and the amount of each included in the product. A good method to reading the label is to look at the %DV, or percent of the recommended daily value. Do not exceed the dosage instructions which are written on each bottle. If you are of child-bearing age, even if you are not currently pregnant or intend to become pregnant, it is generally safe to take prenatal vitamins. It is important, however, to speak with your doctor. Prenatals contain vitamins and minerals that are healthy for women, and also improve the chances of normal, healthy fetal development if pregnancy does occur. The main differences between prenatals and other vitamins are the amounts of folic acid, iron, and calcium. Folic acid is important for the development of red blood cells and for cell health, in addition it is important for fetal spinal cord development. Iron is important for all women, as blood loss through menses often causes anemia, which can cause fatigue and other symptoms. Calcium is important for bone health in women. It is important to take calcium daily from a young age to prevent osteoporosis down the road. Prenatal vitamins often incorporate the daily recommended value of these and other vitamins, rather than having to take these supplements as individual pills. At any age, it is important to see your doctor regularly to be sure you are up-to-date on age-appropriate screening tests as well as preventative health interventions, which include reviewing your diet to ensure you are receiving the appropriate amount of nutrients. In addition, you should see your doctor to discuss your concerns regarding prenatal vitamins.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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