While pregnant women take prenatal vitamins to supplement what may be lacking in their diet, the prenatal vitamin may not contain enough nutrients to supply everything they need. While it can be tempting to double up on prenatals to boost their nutritional value, more is not necessarily better. Before you take more than the recommended daily amount of any nutrient, especially during pregnancy, check first with your doctor.
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Is Two Better Than One?
You may think that if one prenatal vitamin is good for you, two are even better. While it may seem better to have more than enough than not getting enough, getting too much of any vitamin can lead to potentially hazardous consequences. This is true even if your prenatal vitamin seems to be lacking in some nutrients. Take this example: the Cleveland Clinic recommends 800 mcg to 1,000 mcg of folic acid every day, but your prenatal may only contain 400. Seems logical to take an extra, right? The problem is that prenatal vitamins contains more than just folic acid. Some of those vitamins are hard to overdose on, because they get flushed from your body regularly. However, others are stored in the body until they are used. Excessive buildup of fat soluble vitamins can have dangerous consequences for you and your baby.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Extra fat soluble vitamins are stored in your liver and fat cells until you need them. If you continually take more than you can use, excessive amounts build up in your system. Some examples of fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D and E, all of which are found in a typical prenatal vitamin. Cleveland Clinic recommends taking a prenatal that contains between 4,000 and 5,000 international units of vitamin A, 400 international units of vitamin D and 10 mg of vitamin E. This amount should be sufficient for your pregnancy needs. Getting a little more than this from time to time is generally still safe. Taking more than twice of the recommended daily allowance of any vitamin and mineral, however, is potentially dangerous during pregnancy.
If you have stored too much of a certain vitamin or mineral, your body will react. An overdose of vitamins A, D or E will often cause nausea, fatigue and headaches. A vitamin A overdose may also cause blurry vision and skin shedding. Vitamin D overdoses may cause appetite loss, in addition to bone pain. If you have taken too much vitamin E, you may also experience double vision or excessive bleeding and bruising. Don't think you will take the brunt of a vitamin overdose; your baby may experience some effects as well. Both vitamins A and D are linked to birth defects when taken in excess.
A Better Vitamin
While taking two prenatal vitamins is not a good idea, you can still get plenty of vitamins and minerals even if they are lacking from your diet. First, check with your doctor to see if there is a better prenatal vitamin that suits your particular needs. In addition, some pregnant women may need extra amounts of certain nutrients to stay healthy during their pregnancy. These include both iron and folic acid. However, this is not common. Do not take additional supplements during pregnancy without first consulting your doctor.