Wellness Hair Care Are Prenatal Vitamins Good for Hair Growth—Even if You're Not Pregnant? Some claim prenatal vitamins improve hair growth and give them shinier strands. By Kathleen Felton Kathleen Felton Kathleen Felton is a writer, editor, and content strategist with several years of experience working in digital media. She is an expert in health, pregnancy, and women's lifestyle. health's editorial guidelines Updated on January 9, 2023 Medically reviewed by William Truswell, MD Medically reviewed by William Truswell, MD William Truswell, MD, FACS, operates his own cosmetic and reconstructive facial surgery practice. Dr. Truswell was the first in his area in Western Massachusetts to have an accredited private office surgical suite. learn more Share Tweet Pin Email It's no secret that prenatal vitamins are packed with many essential nutrients. Folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and vitamin C are all important for pregnant people. You can get these by eating certain foods and taking dietary supplements. Folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and others could help support a baby's development and protect against brain, spine, or spinal cord birth defects—called neural tube defects. But could prenatal vitamins also deliver longer, faster-growing hair and smoother skin whether someone is pregnant or not? Are there any long-term side effects to consider to taking prenatal vitamins or reasons you might want to stick to a regular multivitamin instead? Health polled dermatologists, nutritionists, and a GI healthcare provider to find out their thoughts. Prenatal Vitamins and Hair Growth Claims Anecdotally, you may have heard a pregnant person describe hair growth while taking prenatal vitamins. We still need more research to back this claim clinically. Can the vitamins or other changes during pregnancy promote hair growth? We don't know for sure, and a 2018 literature review concluded that the role of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals in hair growth is important but not entirely clear. Is It Safe To Take Prenatal Vitamins if You Aren't Pregnant? Many people take prenatal vitamins when trying to conceive but before they're pregnant. For example, it's recommended that people take 400 micrograms of folic acid each day before and during pregnancy. Obstetricians and gynecologists also encourage prenatal vitamins for individuals who are not pregnant (but desire to be) in preparation for pregnancy. This helps ensure the body has enough access to essential vitamins and minerals for the baby's growth. "For the first few months after having a baby—when you may not have time to eat a balanced diet and feel exhausted—taking prenatal vitamins is fine," said Health's contributing medical editor Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. "But long term, they have higher than necessary amounts of certain vitamins and minerals that can cause [negative] side effects." Two, in particular, to be aware of are iron and folic acid, Dr. Rajapaksa said. Too Much Iron Some people can benefit from an iron supplement, such as young people with especially heavy periods and parents-to-be, since the nutrient aids the baby's brain development and helps prevent iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy. But too much of this mineral long-term can be a bad thing. "Taking more iron than you need all the time can lead to constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or worse," said Cynthia Sass, RD, MPH, Health's contributing nutrition editor. Too Much Folic Acid Although it's unknown what amount of folic acid might be dangerous, taking large amounts offers no benefit and may carry risks for certain people. Plus, it is "one of the most significant differences you'll find in comparing a prenatal and regular multivitamin," said Stephanie Middleberg, RD, a nutritionist based in New York City. This B vitamin is important during pregnancy because it helps prevent neural tube defects and preterm birth. You don't have to worry about overdoing it on folate—the natural form of folic acid found in foods like fruits, veggies, and nuts—through diet. But consuming too much in supplement form has the potential to mask a severe vitamin B12 deficiency in those who don't have their levels tested. High folic acid levels may correct the anemia that the vitamin B12 deficiency causes but not the nerve damage. Folic acid supplements can also interact with several medications. Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, a San Diego-based nutritionist, recommended prenatal vitamins to female athlete clients since athletes tend to have a greater risk of low iron levels, as well as to people who think they might get pregnant soon. But Bazilian told Health that besides folic acid, iron, and the essential fatty acid DHA, the vitamins and minerals in most prenatal vitamins are pretty standard. For that reason, "prenatals may not give an additional 'boost' above a regular quality multivitamin," Bazilian noted. 18 Causes of Hair Loss - And What You Can Do About It What To Do for Hair Growth Instead of taking a prenatal vitamin when you're not pregnant—and getting too much of certain vitamins and minerals—there are other ways to help your hair growth. Biotin If you're after longer hair, Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City, recommended a daily biotin supplement for non-pregnant people. Dr. Jaliman suggested one that contains 2.5 milligrams (2,500 micrograms) of the B vitamin, such as Nature Made High Potency Biotin Softgels. However, the research on biotin supplements for hair growth is limited, and it may only be helpful for those with a biotin deficiency, which is rare. Collagen Another option is collagen peptides, which Middleberg recommended for healthier skin, hair, and nails. Our pick: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, which you can easily mix into smoothies or juice. Like biotin, more research is needed to determine the true benefits of collagen for skin, hair, and nails. Some studies have shown that collagen can improve skin elasticity and hydration. Still, the claims by companies and on social media exaggerate the benefits of collagen compared to what research shows so far. Pantothenic Acid Provitamin B5 (also known as pantothenic acid or D-panthenol) might also benefit hair growth, according to a 2021 study. The study authors noted that the vitamin is often used in hair care products that stimulate hair growth, aid in strengthening and thickening hair, and prevent split ends. You can take a dietary supplement to get pantothenic acid, but it occurs naturally in almost all foods. It is added to some foods (like cereals), so taking a supplement isn't really necessary. You can get the recommended amount of pantothenic acid by eating a variety of foods, including these foods: Beef, chicken, seafoodEggsMilkWhole grains (like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal)ChickpeasAvocadoPotatoesBroccoliPeanuts and sunflower seeds 7 Ways to Regrow Thinning Hair A Quick Review While some people may notice faster-growing hair from taking prenatal vitamins, taking high levels of vitamins you don't need is not a good idea. Always consult a healthcare provider before taking any new supplements to make sure they're right for you, and look for reputable brands with not too many extra filler ingredients, Bazilian said. Most importantly, drink enough water, get plenty of sleep, manage your stress, and fill your plate with lots of fresh produce, healthy fats, lean proteins, and fiber—all are key to a healthy body inside and out. "It may not be as easy as popping a pill, but a healthy lifestyle will benefit you in numerous ways without posing unnecessary risks," said Sass. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Nutrition During Pregnancy. Oh C, Keats EC, Bhutta ZA. Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation During Pregnancy on Maternal, Birth, Child Health and Development Outcomes in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2020;12(2):491. Published 2020 Feb 14. doi:10.3390/nu12020491 Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP, Tosti A. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019;9(1):51-70. doi:10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Folic acid: the best tool to prevent neural tube defects. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Good health before pregnancy: prepregnancy care. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Folic acid: frequently asked questions and answers. Selhub J, Miller JW, Troen AM, Mason JB, Jacques PF. Perspective: The High-Folate-Low-Vitamin B-12 Interaction Is a Novel Cause of Vitamin B-12 Depletion with a Specific Etiology-A Hypothesis. Adv Nutr. 2022;13(1):16-33. doi:10.1093/advances/nmab106 National Institutes of Health. Folate. National Institutes of Health. Biotin. Rustad AM, Nickles MA, McKenney JE, Bilimoria SN, Lio PA. Myths and media in oral collagen supplementation for the skin, nails, and hair: A review. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022;21(2):438-443. doi:10.1111/jocd.14567 Wargala E, Sławska M, Zalewska A, Toporowska M. Health effects of dyes, minerals, and vitamins used in cosmetics. Women. 2021;1(4):223-237.doi:10.3390/women1040020 National Institutes of Health. Pantothenic acid.