The Truth About Geritol and Getting Pregnant

Medically reviewed by Nancy Choi, MD on August 2, 2016Written by Rena Goldman on August 2, 2016
geritol pills for pregnancy

If you’re trying to conceive, you may have read about Geritol. The multivitamin is often listed on blogs and online pregnancy message boards as a way to boost fertility.

Some posts talk about there being “a baby at the end of every bottle.” But is there any truth to this claim?

Read on to learn more about Geritol, multivitamins, and getting pregnant.

What is Geritol?

Geritol is a brand of vitamin and mineral supplements. The manufacturer makes a variety of different formulas. Some formulas are designed to boost energy. Others are designed to provide vitamins and minerals you may not be getting from your diet.

There are specific Geritol vitamins for different groups, from senior citizens to vegetarians.

The formulas come as capsules or in a liquid solution you take by mouth. They’re available in some pharmacies and online.

Will Geritol help you get pregnant?

Having the right amount of vitamins and minerals is an important part of getting pregnant, as it helps to increase your overall health status. But there isn’t any medical evidence to suggest that Geritol, in particular, will help you conceive.

In fact, the brand itself says that any claims that Geritol will boost fertility are false: “There is, unfortunately, no evidence that specifically taking Geritol can increase your fertility or your chances of getting pregnant. We don't make any fertility claims, and we’re not quite sure how the rumor got started.”

One possibility for people thinking the multivitamin will help them get pregnant is because of its iron content. Iron is needed for the body to produce hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that moves oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

The mineral is also needed for growth, development, and the functioning of certain cells. When a woman has her period, she loses iron. A supplement can help replace what’s lost. Women also need iron during pregnancy when their blood volume increases up to 40 percent. Iron is also found in foods such as red meat, beans, green leafy vegetables, and more, so if someone has a balanced diet, they may already take in adequate iron.

However, since the vitamin and mineral formulas sold under the Geritol label aren’t designed for fertility, they don’t have the same makeup as a prenatal vitamin.

What’s the difference between Geritol and a prenatal vitamin?

Dr. Kaylen Silverberg, a Texas-based fertility specialist, says one key difference between Geritol and prenatal vitamins is the amount of folic acid: There’s more folic acid in a prenatal vitamin.

Folic acid is a B vitamin that plays a key role in a baby’s early spinal development. Not having enough can cause spina bifida, a potentially disabling condition that happens when the spinal cord doesn’t form properly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that women take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily at least one month before getting pregnant and during pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend taking a higher amount, depending on your existing levels and whether or not you’re getting enough through diet.

“I tell all my patients to take prenatal vitamins. I’m unaware of any studies that specifically link Geritol to pregnancy,” says Dr. Silverberg.

Another key difference, according to Dr. Silverberg, is that prenatal vitamins include a stool softener. This is to help lessen the side effects from taking iron as a supplement. The mineral can cause problems in the digestive tract, including constipation.

How can you boost your fertility?

When you’re trying to get pregnant, a good first step is to make sure you’re eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. You want to try and get as many vitamins and minerals from your food as possible. Next, talk to your doctor about selecting a prenatal vitamin that’s right for you. Prenatal vitamins come in a variety of different formulas. For example, some contain more iron. These are made for women who were anemic before pregnancy.

Dr. Silverberg says there are other supplements you can take to boost fertility that have been studied. He suggests dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

DHEA is a hormone your body makes naturally. It helps the body make male and female sex hormones. Some research has shown that taking DHEA might help boost fertility by stimulating ovulation. However, using DHEA as a supplement is controversial. It is unclear whether it is beneficial for all women with fertility problems, and in some cases may be harmful.

CoQ10 is an antioxidant your body makes to help with cell function. As we get older, the body makes less of it. Supplement manufacturers make a man-made version of the antioxidant that you can take by mouth.

It’s been shown to provide a variety of health benefits. Dr. Silverberg says there are a couple studies that suggest higher pregnancy rates when women take CoQ10, but experts aren’t sure why that is yet.

Next steps

Geritol is not the miracle vitamin the internet says it is. The best way you can raise your chances of getting pregnant is by practicing healthy lifestyle habits (eating healthfully and exercising) and taking the right prenatal vitamin. Some women may need help beyond vitamins, and that’s where a fertility specialist comes in.

According to Dr. Silverberg, you should get tested by a fertility specialist after trying to get pregnant for a year if you’re under 35, and after six months if you’re over 35. He also recommends having your partner’s sperm tested as a part of the process.

Q:

What vitamins/supplements are important for women who are trying to get pregnant?

A:

Both before and during pregnancy, a multivitamin is important for the mother’s health as well as the baby’s development. This is especially important for mothers who do not eat a balanced, adequate diet as well as mothers who may have an absorption problem. The multivitamin should include iron, folate, calcium, iodine, and vitamin D. During the first trimester in particular, pregnant women should take a folic acid supplement of 0.4 to 0.8 mg per day. 

Nancy Choi, MDAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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