Give advice on women's health concerns.

Prenatal Vitamin Side Effects

The Possible Side Effects of Prenatal Vitamins You Never Knew About

Most of the prenatal vitamin side effects are considered normal, but severe and persistent ones need immediate medical attention.
Sonia Nair
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2018
Pregnancy is one of the crucial stages in every woman's life. Health experts recommend a balanced and nutritious diet during this period, to cover the requirement of both the mother and the baby. At times, a nutritious diet may not be sufficient to serve the purpose, and therefore, prenatal vitamins are recommended. They are multivitamins that are specially formulated for pregnant women. These vitamins are believed to be beneficial for nursing mothers, and for women who are planning to get pregnant. Even though prenatal vitamins include several vitamins and minerals, the most important among them are calcium, iron, and folic acid.
Possible Side Effects
Although it has been observed that most users tolerate these vitamins without any trouble, certain side effects may be experienced. These adverse reactions may be associated with morning sickness, which may subside within three to five months of pregnancy. Apart from some common and minor side effects, it is uncommon for prenatal vitamins to cause serious health issues. However, in rare cases, severe side effects may occur. Here is a list of some of the common side effects of prenatal vitamins.
Headache and Nausea: Intake of prenatal vitamins may cause headaches and nausea in some women. While headache is a common side effect, nausea may subside with the onset of the second trimester. Nausea may be accompanied with a sour stomach too. In such cases, a chewable or liquid form of prenatal vitamin may prove beneficial. You may also take the vitamin before bedtime, if your doctor permits. Try having the vitamin along with the meal or a snack, unless your doctor directs otherwise.
Constipation: Another common problem associated with consumption of these vitamins is constipation, which could be due to the iron content. You can relieve this problem by increasing intake of fibrous foods and fluids. Increasing the level of physical activities is another way to counter this problem, provided your doctor allows you to do the same. You may also seek the opinion of your doctor with regard to the use of a suitable stool softener. Dark stools are a common occurrence in women who take prenatal vitamins that contain iron.
Bad Taste in Mouth: Combined with hormonal fluctuations, intake of prenatal vitamins may cause a bad taste in the mouth. This may also lead to an aversion to food. Some women may overcome the condition as their body gets adjusted to the vitamins. Others must seek the advice of their doctor, who might suggest a different brand of prenatal vitamin, or some measures to overcome the condition. Drinking lots of water may sometimes prove effective to combat the bad taste.
Allergic Reactions: Though allergic reactions is very rare in women who take prenatal vitamins, some may develop minor symptoms. If the symptoms are severe, like breathing trouble, hives, itching, swollen mouth, etc., immediate medical attention must be sought.
Other Problems:
  • Indigestion
  • Gas and belching
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Weakness
  • Insomnia
  • Discoloration of urine
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Most of the above symptoms are experienced by pregnant women, even if they do not consume prenatal vitamins. As these symptoms coincide with pregnancy symptoms, it is very difficult to differentiate between the two. But in case of major symptoms, like allergic reactions, severe vomiting, intense abdominal pain and cramps, unusual bruising and bleeding, bloody stools, etc., immediate medical attention is needed. For minor symptoms like headaches and nausea, you can consult your doctor for some safe medicines. Make sure that you consult your doctor, if the symptoms worsen or persist.
Overdose: In case you miss a dose, you can have it as soon as you remember. If it is time for the next dose, it is better to skip the missed dose. Overdose of prenatal vitamins may sometimes cause symptoms, like unconsciousness, paleness, weak or rapid heartbeat, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, etc. In such cases, you must consult your doctor immediately.
Drug Interactions: Make sure that your doctor is well-informed about your medical history, especially blood disorders, allergies, diseases of the liver, heart, kidney, stomach, etc. You must also tell your doctor about your current medication and dosage. NSAIDs, diuretic pills, certain medication for heart diseases, etc., may interact with prenatal vitamins.
Prenatal vitamins do not require approval of the FDA and therefore, it is very important to take this only on the recommendation of your doctor. You should strictly avoid self medication during pregnancy, as any mistake may cause harm to the mother and the baby. Even if you are using these multivitamins, care must be taken to adopt a balanced prenatal nutrition plan. It is better to avoid herbal preparations or prenatal vitamins with herbal blends. These vitamins are now available in different forms and dosages. If you find it difficult to swallow the large pills, you can consult your doctor, who may prescribe powdered supplements, or divide the dosage. Stick to the recommended dosage and duration.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.