While many men typically aren't in the market for prenatal vitamins, you may be wondering if it's safe (or ever a good idea) for men to take such vitamin supplements. There are several differences between prenatal vitamins for women and vitamin supplements specifically designed for men.
Can Guys Take Prenatal Vitamins?
Taking prenatal vitamins if you're a man likely won't hurt and may even provide you with extra health perks when it comes to your overall health, preventing deficiencies, and boosting your chance at successful conception. Some prenatal vitamins for couples contain multivitamin supplements for both men and women trying to conceive a baby. These men's pre-conception vitamins claim to aid in healthy sperm production and are generally rich in antioxidants such as lycopene, selenium, zinc, and vitamins E and C.
Pros of Prenatal Vitamins for Men
Prenatal vitamins made for women are higher in certain nutrients (such as iron and folic acid), which is a perk for men struggling to meet these nutrient needs on a daily basis. Many prenatal vitamins for women also come with essential omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient many Americans are deficient in -- even men -- says a 2014 study published in the Nutrition Journal.
Believe it or not, the American Pregnancy Association encourages men to take some type of multivitamin supplement when trying to conceive with their partners because male fertility accounts for one-third of infertility cases. The same source suggests these men get plenty of zinc and vitamin E daily and take a multivitamin supplement, pre-natal vitamin, or a male fertility supplement to maximize the chance of conception. Choosing a pre-conception vitamin designed specifically for men is your best bet, but a woman's prenatal vitamin may also do the trick.
Most prenatal vitamins are specifically designed to meet pregnant women's needs, but there aren't many concerns if men choose to take them as well. Men who do this may end up taking in more nutrients (such as iron and folic acid) than their body needs, but prenatal vitamins shouldn't exceed dangerous tolerable upper intake levels (the highest safe possible amounts) for men. Exceptions are for men susceptible to iron overload, as is the case for men with a hereditary condition called hemochromatosis. Iron can build up in the organs and glands of these men, causing cell, tissue damage, and even premature death.
Should Men Take Prenatal Vitamins?
Men (especially those with low levels of iron or folate) seeking higher dosages of vitamins and other essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids often found in prenatal vitamins, may reap some health benefits from taking such vitamins. However, they should check in with their doctor to be sure. To maximize fertility, these men may also consider asking a medical professional about fertility supplements and pre-conception vitamin supplements specifically designed for a man's unique nutritional needs.