Prenatal vitamins are a mainstay for women who want to make sure they are hitting all of their nutritional targets and doing all that they can to undergo a healthy pregnancy.
These vitamins often have higher levels of folic acid to help prevent certain birth defects, zinc to help curb preterm births, iron for placenta development, calcium for strong bones, and vitamin A for eye health and development.
All of these things are great and generally well-balanced in the supplement for a pregnant female. But, if you are a male, can you take a prenatal vitamin, too?
Below, we will help answer the question of if men can take prenatal vitamins meant for women (or if you would want to), explain how certain prenatal supplements may not be optimally balanced for a man's body, and then cover some supplements that men may want to consider as an alternative to support their fertility.
Read Related: Vegan Prenatal Vitamins: Our Top 3 Recommendations
Can men take prenatal vitamins meant for women?
Technically, if a man took a prenatal vitamin meant for women, it is unlikely to be harmful if it were just on occasion or for a few days.
The prenatal vitamins meant for women don't have anything like female-specific hormones in them, they are the same vitamins, minerals, and supplements that all humans need, just balanced in a way to help give a pregnant women a little extra nutrition. Specifically, to help cover the increased needs of some nutrients, like iron.
So, if you accidentally took your wife's prenatal supplement, or were wondering if you could share vitamins over a weekend where you forgot your own multivitamin -- you will likely be just fine.
Prenatal vitamins meant for women may not be well balanced for men
However, it is not advised to plan on taking a woman's prenatal vitamin as a man on the regular, as some of the amounts may be way above what you need and may cause some issues.
One of the biggest concerns here is the Iron content.
Adult men need 8mg of Iron daily, while non-pregnant adult women already need more than double that, at 18mg. A pregnant woman's Iron needs are even higher, at 27mg a day.
This higher Iron need for pregnancy tends to be compensated for in prenatal vitamins, which are likely to contain a decent amount of Iron.
In men, this extra Iron above what they need may cause issues like stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting in the short term, or even brain and liver damage in the long term. You definitely can go overboard with Iron, and it can be dangerous if it goes on for a long time.
Fertility supporting vitamins for men
If you are looking into prenatal vitamins for men because you want to support your fertility efforts as a man, there are much better ways to go about it than taking a prenatal vitamin meant for women.
Certain vitamins and supplements may help support healthy sperm production, and general men's health. Although, the best way to support healthy sperm production as a man is to take great care of yourself through a nutritious balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoidance or minimization of substances like nicotine and alcohol.
Below, are a few supplements that may aid in general men's health and healthy sperm production. For the best results, you would want to start these at least 3 months before you are planning on conceiving, as it takes about this long for sperm to be produced.
1. Men's Multivitamin
A men's multivitamin contains a lot of your general vitamins and minerals to help avoid deficiencies. Folate is also usually found in these multivitamins, which is important for DNA synthesis and sperm function.
If you choose vitamins listed as being made for men, you would not expect too-high levels of Iron for a man (if it contains any at all), like what might be contained in a vitamin made for women.
A good go-to men's multi is Men's Nutrients from Pure Encapsulations. You can order this supplement in large bottles of 180 capsules or 360 capsules, so you always have some on hand.
You can buy this Men's Nutrients supplement from Pharmedico Pharmacy: Here.
2. Omega-3 supplement
Most multivitamins do not also include Omega-3s, so you may want to consider also adding this one on for extra reproductive support.
Higher Omega-3 intake has been found to help improve semen quality and total sperm count. There is also a positive correlation between increased human sperm motility and DHA concentrations in the membrane.
Orthomega 820 from Ortho Molecular Products is a good Omega-3 supplement that boasts 950mg of total Omega-3s in just one gel capsule daily.
You can purchase Orthomega 820 from Pharmedico Pharmacy today: Here.
3. CoQ10 supplement
Part of what may drive infertility in men might include high levels of oxidative stress.
CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant that may help combat some of this oxidation. Studies show that CoQ10 supplementation can improve sperm motility and seminal quality.
If you want to add Coq10 into your preconception supplement mix, the 100mg CoQ10 from Integrative Therapeutics may be a good choice.
You can purchase this 100mg CoQ10 supplement from Pharmedico Pharmacy: Here.
Written by: Jill Barat, PharmD