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Can I Take Prenatal Vitamins While on Birth Control?

Medically Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on August 20, 2020

You may have heard that taking prenatal vitamins can help your hair and nails grow, among other things. They’re chock full of iron, folic acid, calcium, and other nutrients.

First, there’s no scientific evidence that proves prenatal vitamins benefit hair and nails. Taking them when you don’t need to -- like when you’re on birth control -- could cause problems. Here’s what you need to know.

Side Effects

Prenatal vitamins are generally safe. The problem is they may have more nutrients than your body needs if you’re not pregnant. That could bring about unwanted side effects. These include:

Folic acid. Babies need it to ward off birth defects. But high levels of folic acid can hide the fact that you’re not getting enough vitamin B12. That could lead to nerve damage.

Iron. Moms-to-be need it to make extra blood for the baby. A buildup of this mineral can trigger:

Calcium. It’s great for your bones, but too much can cause:

There’s no need to take prenatal vitamins if you’re on birth control and don’t plan on getting pregnant anytime soon.

If you’re having trouble growing your hair or nails, a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in hair, skin, and nails) can help you figure out why.

Whole foods are the best source of nutrients. Eating a variety of these foods should give you what you need if you’re in good health. They include:

If you still think you need a supplement, talk to your doctor. They can help you choose the right one. They’ll also make sure it won’t affect any medications you may be taking.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Prenatal vitamins: Why they matter, how to choose,” “Is it OK to take prenatal vitamins if I'm not pregnant, and I don't plan to become pregnant?” “Supplements: Nutrition in a pill?”

Office of Women’s Health: “Folic acid.”

Dignity Health: “The Importance of Prenatal Vitamins.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Are You Taking Too Many Calcium Supplements?”

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