LeAnn Rimes takes 40 vitamins a day, including prenatal vitamins. (Photo: Getty Images/Alexander Tamargo)
LeAnn Rimes raised eyebrows when she recently revealed that she takes a whopping 40 vitamins a day. Among them: prenatal vitamins.
“I’m a big vitamin person. I take, like, 20 pills in the morning and 20 at night — fish oil, prenatal vitamins, probiotics, biotin…I have an herbalist I work with who has put me on a bunch of different things,” she told Into the Gloss.
But Rimes stated as recently as this week that she’s not pregnant:
— LeAnn Rimes Cibrian (@leannrimes)August 11, 2015
Rimes is hardly the first woman to take prenatal vitamins when she’s not pregnant. Some women who aren’t pregnant or trying to become pregnant claim the pills give them thicker hair and stronger nails.
But non-pregnant women may want to think twice about taking these pills, says certified dietitian-nutritionist Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CEO of New York Nutrition Group. “Prenatal vitamins are designed specifically to provide pregnant women with extra nutrition to support growth and development of the baby,” Moskovitz explains to Yahoo Health. “For this reason, specific vitamins and minerals such as folic acid and iron are much higher in prenatals than in regular multivitamins.”
There are many formulas of prenatal vitamins, but the main ingredient is folic acid, which can help lower the risk of birth defects in a baby, certified dietitian-nutritionist Gina Keatleytells Yahoo Health. And there’s a big difference in the amount of folic acid in prenatal vitamins vs. a standard women’s multivitamin (typically 800 micrograms compared to 400 micrograms).
If you’re not growing a baby, your body simply doesn’t need or use that extra folic acid and it’s very likely that you’ll just pee out the extra amount. However, Keatley says, it’s not harmful to your health: “The body does not store folic acid so there is very little danger in continuing to have double the recommended daily amount.”
The potential issue, experts say, is with the extra iron. The recommended iron intake for a pregnant woman is 27 milligrams, but women between the age of 19 to 50 who aren’t pregnant only need 18 milligrams of iron a day, the Mayo Clinic reports.
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Taking in too much iron can cause digestion issues, zinc deficiency, and even depression, Moskovitz says.
Unlike folic acid, extra iron is stored in your body, Keatley says, and there is almost double the daily recommended amount of iron in prenatal vitamins. Iron overdoses can be fatal, but the amount in prenatal vitamins shouldn’t bring you to toxic levels if taken as directed — even when you’re not pregnant.
There’s also the extra cost to think about. For example, a 60-count package of One a Day prenatal multivitamins with DHA retails for $28.99 at Walgreens, while a 100-count package of One a Day women’s multivitamins sells for less than $10.
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