Do Prenatal Vitamins Have Benefits, Even If You’re Not Pregnant?

This critical macromineral aids fetal development by helping build bones and teeth, and also helps maintain maternal bone density.* Calcium is also important for nerve conduction, muscle movement, normal circulation, and hormone circulation.*

“Calcium is a massively important mineral that’s regularly under consumed in America, and guess where a developing fetus sources its calcium from if the pregnant mom is not taking in enough calcium daily? Baby gets it from mom’s bones. While it’s thrifty, it’s not a good thing obviously,” warns Ferira. In other words, daily calcium intake should be top priority from diet and supplement sources during pregnancy.

While you won’t find high amounts of calcium (like 500 milligrams plus) in prenatal vitamins typically. This is less because of its potential to compete with iron absorption (again, at very high calcium levels) and more because “calcium is a genuinely bulky mineral that requires a lot of ‘real estate’ in the prenatal,” explains Ferira. “You would be looking at a whole lot of capsules or tablets if the prenatal formula includes 300 milligrams or more of calcium, along with all the other prenatal essentials.”

If you’ve been told to increase your calcium intake, it’s best to take a food-first approach, then take the appropriate amount of supplementation for your unique nutritional needs, to “mind those gaps,” as Ferira puts it. Supplemental calcium is best taken with food and away from other supplements to avoid stomach upset and promote proper absorption.

Ferira recommends spacing any stand-alone calcium supplements away from your prenatal multi (or any multivitamin, for that matter) to optimize its absorption. She also shares that “morning time can be rough during pregnancy, but minerals can be tough on the tummy in the AM for non-pregnant folks too, so listen to your gut (literally) and personalize your supplement timing approach.”

While adolescents between the ages of nine and 18 need 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day, adult women and men ages 19 to 50 require 1,000 milligrams per day from diet and supplements combined, regardless of whether they are pregnant, lactating, or neither. 

To put this daily need into perspective so you can plan accordingly, “one serving of dairy, like a serving of plain Greek yogurt or a cup of milk, delivers about 200 to 300 milligrams of calcium, respectively.” notes Ferira. “And before you ask about greens, yes the plant kingdom offers calcium, too, but in way smaller doses. A whole cup of chopped broccoli or kale will give you about 50 milligrams of calcium,” she adds.

You may still be wondering if prenatal vitamins are appropriate if pregnancy is not in your near future. If you’re hoping to boost your energy or strengthen and shine up your locks, keep reading.

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