Unknown to most people, science has proven a link between birth control and vitamin deficiencies. If you ask a woman who is menstruating if she is taking birth control pills, chances are (more than 60%) her answer is yes. And while women take birth control for a variety of personal reasons, the side effects are relatively confusing. As it turns out, birth control pills can affect your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. In turn, this causes changes in mood, energy levels, and neurological functions.
Not surprisingly, this can have long-term effects including improving your cellular health before you start actively trying to conceive. Today, we’re uncovering the truth about birth control and vitamin deficiencies. Let’s get straight to the point.
Featured image of Kristen Kilpatrick.
Why do women take birth control pills?
The answers are different. For most people, the Pill is a convenient and easy way to prevent pregnancy. They are also used to help treat symptoms and control certain medical conditions. Think: PCOS, PMDD, and endometriosis. Finally, research shows they may offer other benefits, like reducing acne, reducing menstrual pain, and alleviating PMS symptoms. And of course, they provide menstruating men with more organs in their body.
How do birth control pills work?
Before we fall into a vitamin deficiency, it’s important to explain how active pill. Depending on the synthetic hormone, oral contraceptives prevent pregnancy by stopping or reducing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus to keep sperm from entering the uterus, or thinning the lining of the uterus so a fertilized egg is less likely to be fertilized. clinging ability.
Spoiler alert: You don’t get your period on the pill
If this is news to you, trust that you are not alone. Most women don’t know that when you use birth control, you won’t have a period. Whether you bleed once a month, every few months, or notice occasional bleeding, you still haven’t had a period. The reason is, the bleeding that occurs when you take the pill is not the same as your period.
Your “period”—on the pill—is called withdrawal bleeding. This refers to the withdrawal of hormones in your particular pill and in your body. The drop in hormone levels causes the lining of your uterus to shed. In your turn, you bleed. Understanding this is very important. After all, having regular periods (no withdrawal bleeding) is vitally important to your overall health — not just now, but in the future.
Learn more about your menstrual cycle, here.
Side effects of taking birth control pills
Despite the claimed benefits of birth control, there are downsides. For example, the link between birth control and vitamin deficiencies. More on that, shortly. It is not uncommon for some women to experience side effects when they start taking the pill. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for science to catch up. At any rate, we have some data, indicating the following potential side effects:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Breast tenderness or swelling
- Irritability or moodiness
- Spotting between periods (irregular periods)
Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these side effects. Or, let’s take a more holistic approach together to birth control, balancing your hormones, and more.
Vitamins and minerals at risk of deficiency
When it comes to nutrient deficiencies caused by birth control, research says a lot. Clinical studies show that the main vitamins and minerals at risk of becoming deficient — while taking medications — include B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Here are potential signs of a vitamin deficiency for each nutrient, as well as foods and supplements to boost your levels.
B Vitamins (Including Folate)
B vitamins are very important, especially during early pregnancy. Studies reveal that oral tablets can impair folate metabolism, along with other B vitamins. Another study dating back to the 1970s found that the pill increased the risk of vitamin B2 deficiency in women. Foods with folate — and other B vitamins — include milk, eggs, meat, green vegetables, fortified breads and cereals.
Signs of a deficiency: anemia, fatigue, dry skin, neuropathy, brain fog, depression and asthenia.
Birth control pills have been shown to reduce levels of ascorbic acid, aka vitamin C. Remember to eat citrus, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables.
Signs of a deficiency: fatigue, irritability, easy bruising and a suppressed immune system.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, essential for proper immune system function. Unfortunately, oral tablets reduce plasma levels of Vitamin E in healthy women. You’ll find vitamin E in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Signs of a deficiency: muscle weakness, weakened immune system and nerve problems.
Magnesium is an essential mineral, important for energy production. It also helps with more than 300 reactions in the body. Research shows that magnesium in the blood can be reduced by birth control pills. Dietary sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, and seafood.
Signs of a deficiency: cramps, aches and pains.
Selenium is important for helping antioxidants work better in the body and plays an important role in thyroid function. Studies indicate that birth control pills can interfere with the absorption of selenium in the body. Good food sources of selenium include Brazil nuts and animal protein.
Signs of a deficiency: thyroid problems, weakness, fatigue, skin/hair problems.
Zinc is an essential mineral, especially for sperm and egg health. Long-term studies show that women taking oral contraceptives have lower blood zinc levels. You can get zinc through seafood, animal protein, legumes, beans, cashews, eggs, and quinoa.
Signs of a deficiency: immune system deficiencies, skin and hair problems.