Can a man safely use prenatal vitamins?
November 21, 2007 6:10 PM   Subscribe

Our medicine cabinet has some leftover prenatal vitamins. Is there any reason that I (as a healthy adult male) shouldn't use them as a daily multivitamin until they're used up (about 60 days worth)?
posted by gwenzel to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
do you need all that crap? probably not. pitch 'em
posted by caddis at 6:17 PM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Prenatals have a huge amount of iron, IIRC, which may not be good for you. They also may make you unbelievably nauseated. If it were me, I'd consider it a sunk cost and toss 'em.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:17 PM on November 21, 2007

I'd be more worried that they're expired than that they're pre-natal (I've had bad luck w/expired vitamins YMMV). As far as safety goes, the American Pregnancy Association is reccomending it for men too, so it must be fine.
posted by dipolemoment at 6:26 PM on November 21, 2007

scroll way down on the link, to see the recommendation, I meant to say also.
posted by dipolemoment at 6:27 PM on November 21, 2007

My answer to these kinds of posts is always the same:"Go ahead and eat it."
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:28 PM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Not to be too flip, the key thing that differentiates Prenatal multivitamins from regular multivitamins is iron and folate. The amount of iron in most prenatal vitamins is probably not going to do anything, even in someone with inherited hemachromatosis and it's damn near impossible to overdose on folate. All of which goes to validate my theory that "Go ahead and eat it" is usually the correct advice on AskMeFi.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:36 PM on November 21, 2007

They will not give you cooties. Go for it.
posted by meehawl at 6:53 PM on November 21, 2007

I occasionally take the leftover prenatals we have when I run out of my normal cheapo multivitamin. If I take them 3 or more days in a row the high levels of iron constipate me. If you start running off schedule after you start taking them, you may want to reconsider.
posted by mollweide at 6:58 PM on November 21, 2007

My sister (not pregnant) likes to take prenatal vitamins instead of regular because, according to her they make her hair and nails grow faster, stronger, shinier, etc. They do have a lot of iron, which I find makes me nauseated on an empty stomach. There is no reason not to try them, and if they make you feel off, stop, it's unlikely they'd do any real harm besides possibly making you feel a little uncomfortable.
posted by catatethebird at 7:06 PM on November 21, 2007

I used to live with a male friend whose mother is a gynecologist. One day I was throwing something away and I saw a ton of prenatal vitamin packages in the garbage. I thought he and his girlfriend were about to make an announcement :).

But no; his mother had a bunch and told him he could take them if he wanted. Never hurt him, so I doubt it would hurt you.

(this hardly qualifies as medical advice, though)
posted by sbutler at 7:12 PM on November 21, 2007

enh. They probably won't hurt you, although I took them for a month or so (not pregnant, but had been told they would make my hair and nails grow in stronger) and it was a fairly unpleasant experience. YMMV.
posted by kalimac at 7:24 PM on November 21, 2007

Excess iron is linked with increased risk of heart disease. Men, in general, get enough iron from diet. Pregnant women, in general, are the group that need the most iron. One big difference between multivitamins marketed for men and women is that men's multivitamins don't contain iron. Just don't do it. Vitamins are cheap - get some without any iron. And go donate blood on boxing day!
posted by selfmedicating at 7:49 PM on November 21, 2007

You are asking 2 distinct questions here:

1. Are they safe?
Yes, probably. I'm guessing that the LD50 of a prenatal pill is on the order of hundreds of pills for a health male--but IANAD. Assuming that you only take one per day, your chances of dying are pretty infinitesimal.

2. Should I take them?
Probably not.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 8:04 PM on November 21, 2007

Do they have iron in them? I'd assume they do if they're prenatal vitamins. I am not a doctor, but I think you should be careful about taking them if they contain iron. The Merck Manual states: "Women who are not menstruating and men should not take iron supplements or multiple vitamins with iron unless specifically instructed to do so by a doctor. Taking such supplements can make diagnosing bleeding from the intestine difficult. Such bleeding may be due to serious disorders including colon cancer."

[on preview: what selfmedicating said]
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:45 PM on November 21, 2007

Simple question: why would a healthy adult male need to take a multivitamin?

Multivitamins for modern balanced diets are a profitable scam.
posted by wilful at 12:40 AM on November 22, 2007

I'm pregnant and take a prenatal vitamin, so arguably my body needs all that iron. They still make me nauseous. Normally I take them immediately before going to sleep so I can sleep through the nausea, but last night I took them too early and my husband got to witness me moaning for an hour about how miserable I was.

If all that iron affects me that badly, I'd hate to see what it would do to you. It wouldn't kill you or anything, but it's certainly unpleasant.
posted by christinetheslp at 5:09 AM on November 22, 2007

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