There are many common misconceptions regarding prenatal vitamins and their effect on non-pregnant women. You may have heard that they'll help you grow longer hair, will make your skin clearer -- even that they'll help you lose weight. None of these claims is true; prenatal vitamins are nothing more than regular vitamin and mineral supplements.
Prenatal Vitamin Myths
Prenatal vitamin myths abound. Strangely, many of the common misconceptions are in direct opposition to one another. Some sources claim that the vitamins are good for you if you're not pregnant, while others claim they're bad for you. Some say they'll make you lose weight, while others claim the opposite. With regard to weight, prenatal vitamins can't affect you either way; they don't contain any energy-providing nutrients.
Prenatal vitamins are very similar to regular over-the-counter vitamin and mineral supplements that you might take on a daily basis. They contain the same general ingredients, most of which appear in the same quantities. The big differences between prenatal vitamins and regular supplements are that prenatals contain more iron and more folic acid. These nutrients are particularly important to pregnant women and their developing fetuses, and help promote pregnancy wellness.
To lose weight, you need one thing only: to expend more calories than you take in. While this may be easier said than done, it's the common thread shared by all successful weight loss plans. You can't lose weight by taking vitamins; they simply don't cause you to take in fewer calories to expend more, meaning that by definition, they can't effect weight loss. Vitamins and minerals assist in cell function, but don't cause an increased metabolic rate.
If you're concerned that prenatal vitamins aren't safe to take for weight loss purposes, you needn't worry. While the vitamins are completely ineffectual as a diet strategy, they won't hurt you, either, explains Katherine Zeratsky, a dietitian for MayoClinic.com. Prenatal vitamins have large amounts of iron in them, but while iron is toxic in overdoses, the amounts in prenatals aren't likely to affect an otherwise healthy non-pregnant woman.
- "You: Having A Baby"; Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.; 2009
- "What to Expect When You're Expecting"; Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel; 2008
- MayoClinic.com: Prenatal Vitamins