There has been a lot of talk recently about the usefulness of prenatal vitamins, especially since actress and author Mindy Kalig mentioned that she swears by them. Women everywhere are taking these vitamins (sans baby) to help with hair growth and all around skin glow, but we wanted to find out if there are other options for ladies looking for that extra vitamin boost.
We talked to Calorie Count’s Director of Nutrition Rachel Berman, RD, CSR, CD/N, about the potential risks that can come from prenatal vitamins and a healthier solution for women wanting that extra daily supplement.
What are the benefits of prenatal vitamins that would make women want to take them even when they are not pregnant?
Prenatal vitamins contain more iron than regular vitamins so those who do not get enough in their diets, many vegetarians/vegans for example, might benefit from a higher dose of iron.
Many women swear by the fact prenatal vitamins improve hair and nail growth and yes, they contain higher amounts of folic acid which does promote production of new cells. However, there’s no solid evidence that the prenatal vitamin is responsible for hair/nail growth in woman who are not pregnant. During pregnancy, women typically experience improved growth and thickness of hair and nails, but hormones are also contributing to this effect. It is possible that women who aren’t pregnant are benefiting from other vitamins/minerals that might be present in any multivitamin.
What are some possible long term effects that could come from taking prenatal vitamins for a long period of time? Are they safe for everyone?
Women must be aware that prenatal vitamins should not be a substitute for well-balanced eating. For example, prenatal vitamins only contain about 25 percent of the amount of calcium we need in a day. So if you are relying on the vitamin for your calcium needs, you might end up with an increased risk for osteoporosis.
However, some nutrients we can get TOO much of. Iron needs during pregnancy are higher and therefore the prenatal vitamin contains more than a standard one. Too much iron in your diet plus the prenatal vitamin can result in constipation, nausea, vomiting, and more seriously, damage to your heart or brain potentially resulting in heart attack or stroke.
What are some healthier options/vitamins women should take?
When in doubt, choose a daily multivitamin for your age, sex and even tailored to your medical needs.
What are some other natural vitamins women could take to achieve that extra inch of hair growth they seek with prenatal vitamins?
Pantothenic acid stimulates use of vitamins for benefits and prevents hair loss andBiotin, Inositol and Folic Acid promote healthy cell development.
So ladies, while prenatal vitamins are great for when you have that little bun in the oven, we suggest you stick to your doctor recommended vitamins for your daily intake. And when it comes to that extra long mane you’ve been hoping for? Have you tried Mane ‘n Tale?