Here’s What Can Happen If You Take Prenatal Vitamins When You’re Not Pregnant

African American Black woman looking at her natural curly hairPrenatal vitamins are essential for both mothers and their babies. Not only are they vital for baby’s development, but ingredients such as calcium, folic acid, and iron (to name a few), protect mom against pre-eclampsia, boost fertility, and supports a healthy immune system, respectively. You may even be familiar with the widely reported benefits of helping to grow long hair and nails, and even provide the body with an added dose of nutrients. Only the truth is, if you’re taking these supplements and aren’t pregnant, you may end up with the total opposite of what you intended.

“Many women who sing the praises of prenatal vitamins during their pregnancies are staunch advocates that purport that taking these magic pills, whether pregnant or not, gives them an extra added dose of nutrients that their body needs, a thick mane of healthier, shinier hair and diamond-strong nails that grow in perpetuity,” Dr. Renee Allen, a leading OBGYN out of Snellville, Georgia, tells

Unfortunately, “if you’re not pregnant, not planning to become pregnant or are not breastfeeding, high levels of certain nutrients contained within prenatal vitamins, over a long period of time may actually be more harmful than helpful.”

Here’s why: “Pregnant women need almost twice as much iron and folic acid as the average non-pregnant or non-lactating woman, which is reflected in the contents of the typical prenatal vitamin,” explains Dr. Allen, adding that, “prenatal vitamins are geared to make up the common nutritional deficiencies a pregnant or lactating woman could have. But these vitamins are not really intended for women who aren’t expecting or lactating.”

For example, “getting too much iron routinely on a daily basis, can overtime, be toxic because it can build up in your body, causing constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and, in severe cases, possibly death,” she continued.

Other issues that can arise causing deleterious effects include:

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