Is it OK to take a prenatal vitamin if you’re not pregnant? Absolutely! There is a growing body of evidence that this is actually a good idea.
It has been known for some time that adequate intake of folic acid by a mother before conception and into pregnancy can prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida and meningomyelocoele. Folic acid is a prominent component of all prenatal vitamins. The March of Dimes recommends that mothers “take folic acid before you’re pregnant.” You can see their full discussion of this at http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/folicacid_before.html.
A recent study published in the journal Epidemiology revealed a 60 % lower risk of autism in children born to mothers who took prenatal vitamins during the three months prior to conception and continued into pregnancy, versus those born to mothers who did not. For more information on this study, go to WebMD at http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/news/20110601/prenatal-vitamins-may-lower-autism-risk.
In order to ensure that you get these benefits, you would need to be taking a prenatal vitamin well before conception, an event whose timing can rarely be predicted accurately. This has led noted health advisors Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen to recommend that “if you’re of childbearing age – that is, between 12 and 50 – and there’s a chance you’ll ever be pregnant anytime in the future (10 years or 10 months from now), we YOU Docs want you to start taking prenatal vitamins with the DHA form of omega-3’s. NOW!!!”
Some would argue that the higher than usual amount of folic acid in prenatal vitamins can mask the presence of pernicious anemia, which is caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. This is actually a moot point with the best prenatal vitamin formulas, as these contain enough vitamin B12 to overcome the issue of pernicious anemia masking.
Prenatal vitamins are among the best multivitamin formulas available. Also, there is nothing really gender specific about them. More than a few male Obstetricians who recognize the quality of their favorite prenatal vitamins take them as their own multivitamin supplement.